AN award-winning young entrepreneur is to expand her horsebox rental businesses after striking a deal with a company which brings injured racehorses back to health.
Dawn Branley, 22, has forged an agreement for her Freedom Self-Drive Horse Box Hire business with equine hydrotherapy firm Equilizers, which she hopes will increase her firm’s involvement with the North-East’s racing community.
Freedom, which she launched last year, will provide Equilizers with the vehicles it needs to transport injured racehorses to its base, which like her firm is in Morpeth, Northumberland.
Dawn says the tie-up will take her business to a new level as it increases its current turnover of £78,000 by 25% year-on-year as the two businesses grow in size.
“This agreement increases the scope of the business and means that we can grow our contacts in the horse-racing industry,” she said. Dawn was the proud winner of the Business Award at this year’s Blueprint Awards, which recognised the best business plans from students, staff or alumni of Durham, Newcastle, Northumbria, Teesside or Sunderland universities.
She plans to use the £10,000 prize money to add at least one more wagon to the business’ three boxes as well as introducing trailers for use with 4x4 towing vehicles.
Dawn, who is studying psychology at Newcastle University and runs the business with her partner Michael Brannighan, also plans to establish a sales force within a year.
She has competed in a number of show jumping events and had the idea for the business after years of renting horseboxes, which required a company driver to be present.
“Not only did I have to rent out a horsebox, which can be expensive, I had to pay for someone to sit around all day at the wheel while I was at the show.
“This has made horse riding unaffordable for a lot of people in the past” she said.
Dawn faced a number of difficult hurdles in the early stages of the business, including being ruled ineligible for help by the Prince’s Trust for being a student instead of unemployed, and being knocked back for funding by a bank.
She was eventually able to fund the launch of the business by securing a £15,000 loan from Barclays, which she used to buy her first horsebox.
Dawn also runs GiddyUp North, the first equine online community specifically aimed at the North-East.
The site, www.giddyupnorth.com, covers everything from information on local shows and events, local rides and bridle- ways, horses and ponies for sale/loan/wanted, to meets and services such as farriers and equine dentists.