With a zest for life, a contagious drive to achieve and a passion for his family business, Rhys Horobin is not your typical Gen-Y individual. At 24 years of age, the saddle maker, saddle fitter and rising star DJ shared his thoughts and experiences on growing up and working as part of a family business. Making custom, hand-crafted saddles on the beautiful Victorian Mornington Peninsula.
“As a child I grew up around horses and animals. It really made me appreciate and love them that’s for sure. I never envisioned myself to be a saddler or a saddle fitter, instead I was right into my sports and everyday hobbies such as skateboarding and music”.
Rhys' pride and enthusiasm for his work and family is evident. During high school Rhys pursued various avenues of work from hospitality to plumbing but never imagined himself becoming a saddler. However, after leaving school and beginning a 4 year saddle making apprenticeship with his father, Peter, the spark was lit and his journey to becoming a full time member of Peter Horobin Saddlery began. Having the opportunity to learn and work alongside one of the best saddle makers in the world is something Rhys is incredibly grateful and proud of, “Dad is dedicated, hard working and intelligent. To do what he has done starting from a backyard tin shed, I couldn’t compare to anything else. I am proud to learn from him every day and learn skills in saddle fit and saddle making”.
A social soul, Rhys' love for meeting and learning from many equine professionals has him travelling alongside Peter regularly. “I love seeing different places and I am a very social person so meeting new faces is what I love about the job”. From short jaunts up the road and weeks interstate visiting various properties to overseas trips studying saddle fitting, equine ergonomics and anatomy; travelling has quickly become Rhys' favourite part of the job. “The best part of this job is that I could go anywhere in the world and find horses and clients that I could help and service. In Australia I have been from coast to coast and have had the opportunity to do it with my dad."
Not only has Rhys travelled vastly across Australia but he has frequented Hong Kong and Singapore where he has serviced clients saddles and worked within riding schools and racing stables.
Amidst the busy travelling schedule of educational seminars, equine exhibitions, horse shows and inter-state saddle fitting, Rhys also plays an integral role in the daily running and organisation of the workshop. “A day at the workshop consists of organising the orders and getting to know the customers and their horses so we can make saddles to suit them. I have to organise our the workshop schedule which involves cutting leather patterns, stitching, building the trees and also the final alterations such as stuffing with wool and gullet adjustments”.
"We also do a lot of saddle repairs too which is great because I get to learn hands on what other saddles are made of and how we can revamp, fix or alter them for the client."
Daily life working and living in such close proximity with the family may prove to be a challenge to some and although Rhys admits to it is always a learning curve, it does not take long to understand why this exceptional family business works so well because he warmly explains that "in a family business you have to focus on what everyone is good at and nuture that".
Rhys Djing at Boneo Parks CDI
To Rhys the PHS name proudly represents a lifetime commitment started by his parents and now him to educate people about equine back health and to have the dedication to freeing horses from long-term damage caused by ill-fitting saddles. This leads to constant innovation and to continually evolve. “I see PHS not only as a beautiful product but also as an educational tool. We love horses and we love to see customers with well-made, long lasting saddles. Horse's are important to us because they are a part of an equestrians' life so when I make a saddle and sell a saddle the most important thing to me is the horses' wellbeing.
It is not hard to see why over the last 8 years Rhys has become a highly skilled saddler and saddle fitter; his passion and enthusiasm to learn from the best and to carry on what he has learnt for future generations proves to be the driving force behind his up and coming success.
“If you love something you’ll always find time for it”, and that he does, between DJ-ing, recently purchasing a house and working full time at the saddlery, at such a young age Rhys continues to work hard to ensure that the PHS brand continues to stand for quality and craftsmanship for many years to come.