Katie Riley has a goal, and she’s well on the way to achieving it. Katie is the lady behind British riding sock business Coolhorsesocks, and her aim is to be the leading technical sock brand in the UK equestrian market. With riders up and down the country wearing their socks and professional riders helping to fly the flag, it’s safe to say Coolhorsesocks is a brand to watch. We were excited to sit down for a chat with Katie as she plots her plans for sock sales domination in 2022 and beyond!
Coolhorsesocks was founded in 2008, and for 10 years produced great designs and established a solid foothold in the market. I took over in 2018 following a sabbatical travelling in India, Asia, Australia and New Zealand. Prior to that I had been working in graphic design for the exhibition industry and was based in the hustle and bustle of London. I have been around horses my entire life, so it was a natural step to want to work in that sphere. I had studied graphic design at university and those skills have been invaluable in helping me grow Coolhorsesocks and getting a reputation for amazing patterns!”
Katie got her first horse when she was just 4 years old, a 12.2hh pony who taught her the ropes (and no doubt how to pick herself up and get back on when it all goes wrong!). Having a horsey family helped, with Katie’s mum also being a keen rider and horse owner. Katie went on to compete with the Atherstone Pony Club where she met 5* eventer and Team GB member Imogen Murray, who is now a Coolhorsesocks brand ambassador. Horses remained a constant presence in Katie’s life and after enrolling at Nottingham Trent University, she also joined the equestrian and horseball teams. She became friends with riders who now proudly wear Coolhorsesocks and help fly the flag for the brand!
“I got to know Lizzie Baugh and Katie Bleloch who have both represented Great Britain as young riders. I already had an excellent understanding of what I wanted from my riding kit for hacking, training and competition, but getting to know riders on the pathway to becoming professional athletes has given me even deeper insight.”
Since taking over the brand 5 years ago, Katie has listened carefully to the most important people as she forged a path forward in the equine market - her customers. Reading emails and social media messages, speaking to customers at events and working with professional riders, Katie developed the Coolhorsesocks range into two distinct collections - the riding socks and competition socks. With seasonal updates, (pumpkins, penguins and holly are just some of the examples!) for riders to add a fun twist to their outfit and exceptional attention to the technical details Coolhorsesocks has it all.
“I design all the socks in house, and it’s not just about choosing the colours and patterns for each style (though that is very good fun!). The socks also boast lots of fantastic features which make them perfect for riders. The Coolmax fabric is breathable and moisture wicking, and I’ve included padded soles and extra arch support to keep you comfortable all day long. The competition collection is even more innovative, with a clever compression design to help muscle recovery and Premgripp® Offset Foot Technology to ensure full contact and enhance balance”.
Everything is manufactured in Katie’s home county of Leicestershire, part of the brand’s commitment to supporting British industry. Katie also has her eye on sustainability, something which is becoming so important as climate change and our impact on the planet becomes clearer. The new Conscious Horse collection is part of the Coolhorsesocks drive for a greener business. These are competition-ready socks made with a lighter gauge to fit tight-fitting boots. Crafted from recycled yarn for the leg and a fully engineered and fitted organic cotton foot (recycled Coolmax fabric isn't available yet) the Conscious Horse socks are packed with the same fantastic features as the rest of the Coolhorsesocks collection with a ribbed arch, cushioned footbed and micromesh venting.
So what else is on the agenda for Katie and Coolhorsesocks? Katie shares her plans for 2022 and beyond!
“I’m keen to develop the brand and engage with our customers to make sure the socks are exactly what they’re looking for. I’m so proud of all the work done so far but I want to cement our position in the market and that means not standing still! I’m taking the trade stand to Badminton this year and know the atmosphere will be incredible after 2 years away. I’ll also be looking at ways to expand our sustainability and make sure we’re doing everything possible to be an eco–friendly brand.”
Katie hasn’t left the world of competitive riding behind either, partnering her horse Reb at 90cm unaffiliated showjumping and aiming for British Eventing next year. All that as well as running a busy equestrian brand? Katie is certainly a busy lady!