Equine SQP of the Year
“Charlotte’s attention to detail and her very personal approach made her a worthy winner in this category”
Charlotte Forkes-Rees is a sales specialist and R-SQP at Mole Country Stores in Berkeley, Gloucestershire. She qualified as an SQP in April 2019 and won the Newly Qualified SQP of the Year award at the National SQP Awards 2019.
She said: “It was amazing to be named Equine SQP of the Year at the National SQP Awards 2019 – horses have been a passion of mine for a long time so being able to be recognised for this at an industry award is amazing.”
Charlotte said that the store’s equestrian customers range from farmers who have an old child’s pony, to breeders of miniature ponies, professional show and event riders, happy hackers and riding club and pony club members. The store also has several travellers who use the store for their animal health and feed requirements.
She said: “I make a habit of ensuring that I practise what I preach, whether that is faecal egg counts, regular poo picking, down to how I feed. I make it a priority that I keep myself up to date with how the industry is promoting best practice. I can then feel confident in the advice I give and help troubleshoot any problems my customers may have, or at least feel able to counter any objections they may make to my advice.”
As standard, Charlotte likes to talk customers through immediate animal health needs as well as the longer-term plan they have for their horse.
“By doing so I can see if there is any way they can improve their current health plan,” she said. “Usually this will include integrating faecal egg counts more regularly throughout the season, the introduction of tape worm testing, and seeing where they may be able to integrate other treatments when a FEC indicates it is needed.”
Charlotte said that she has found that yard visits can help to gain traction with customers, as she can clearly give them ideas of how they can implement simple changes to their current routines, be that daily, weekly, monthly or yearly, and how this can improve the health and wellbeing of their horse.
Looking at challenges she faces in her role, Charlotte said: “There are lots of challenges in the equine market. A lot of our core customers are getting tuned in to certain buzzwords.
“When I talk about resistance, for example, I’ll suggest the correct products, but then they’re not necessarily applying it in quite the correct way. It can make it hard then because they say ‘Well, I know what I’m on about’. A little knowledge can be dangerous.”
Charlotte said that owners are clued up on biosecurity and know about not using other people’s equipment, using their own stuff, not sharing things.
“COVID-19 meant that biosecurity was just as important for humans and making sure that people stayed safe,” she said. “I think people were very sensible.”
Looking forward, Charlotte, who qualified as a Gold Standard SQP in 2020, said that she wants to continue learning.
“The future is about keeping my qualification and continuing with the necessary CPD and the learning to carry it forward,” she said.