Alex Gingell was born into an established farming family in Horningsea, just north of Cambridge. His mother was a keen hunter and eventer in her younger years and was also the DC of the Newmarket and Thurlow PC for a decade whilst Alex and brother Matthew we active and successful PC riders, trainers and competitors. Alex's Granny was the infamous Betty Gingell who was the record breaking hunt master of the Cambridgeshire Harriers for 52 years. Betty was a very renowned showing judge who found herself on the cover of the Horse & Hound more times than Lester Piggott!! After winning lots at PC level Alex moved quickly on to the British Eventing (Juniors) competing at Windsor 3DE ** at the National Championship on his 14th birthday. He was selected for the British Junior Event team aged 15 along with Tina Gifford and William Fox-Pitt, now Olympic riders. Alex competed regularly against the likes of Mark Todd and Andrew Nicholson and was due to fly to Australia on 15.10.90 to ride for Olympic Gold medalist Matt Ryan, a continuation of an amazing season in the UK where he had already reached 31st in the top 100 riders.
He had one more event to try to win at Weston Park. Tragically, rather than the win Alex had hoped for, Alex almost lost his life. His horse's studs sunk into the top of a square table fence and forced them both to dramatically somersault, with the horse landing on Alex’s head! The fence judge saved his life by pulling his tongue out of his throat and then the ambulance arrived to shock his heart back into life. Alex was in a coma for days, suffering brain damage. He had to learn to walk, talk and feed himself again. Once mobile, Alex forced himself to run so his recovery would be accelerated. He ran the Paris Marathon with a time of 4 hours within 2 years of the accident.
It soon dawned on Alex that the best healer was time and that more years were required to achieved a full recovery so he decided to train to become a dressage judge and start a degree. He was accepted on a Ba (Hons) in Equine Studies at the Moreton Morrell (WCA) and passed List 6, 5 and 4 dressage judging in 3 consecutive years. In the 3rd year of the degree course Alex travelled to NZ and rode and trained with Bryce Newman in the North Island with some success. It was in NZ that Alex got introduced to sales and then realised that the life he wanted to carve out was combining sales with horses, dressage judging and supplements.
Alex began to sell branded supplements in a franchise for Horse Health Products UK Ltd in 1996 and was very successful. Over time it didn't sit comfortably with him as many of his customers were also personal friends and he knew that many of them would spend money on their horses before themselves, some even living in caravans in order to afford their horses. He knew he could create better products than the ‘on the shelf’ ones and at a far better price and so he identified a gap in the market. Alex had a natural lead into the racing yards in Newmarket, home to many world leading trainers, because his Granny Betty and her husband Hugh Gingell owned the Cottenham Point to Point. He began supplying the raw ingredients to trainers in bulk and advising them on how to mix them differently for each different horse's needs.
This was extremely successful in East Anglia but he had a desire to make this concept reach further. With Alex's horse knowledge and his wife Jayne's marketing expertise they set about the challenge of building Hack Up. Jayne's challenge was to build a website so Alex could share his expertise with the whole of the UK, not just Newmarket and East Anglia. He could then formulate for each horse's needs and then split the payments of larger orders over two or three months. This effectively gives the every day rider and competitor the ability to buy larger quantities and making the savings that before only large racing yards could. It was a complex project but one that Fizz took on with enthusiasm. Now the site is processing 40-200 orders each day with the capacity to do 1,000’s on its own brand new dedicated secure server where it houses all the horse's history and formulations as well customer feedback.
If a customer places an order by 4pm then it will be created and dispatched the same day on a next day delivery excluding weekends. Due to the fact that the products are sent direct to the customer and do not have to spend up to 2 years on a shop shelf, they can be free from preservatives, colourings and flavorings that neither the customer or the horse wants nor needs. By cutting out the retailer and wholesaler the active ingredient cost can be significantly reduced giving the horse owner better value for money.
When customers talk to Alex he can establish training issues as well as supplement requirements, which he shares with the riders. Often, people are needing calmers to help them overcome an issue that can also be supported through understanding the horse. As a true horseman, Alex has been formulating nutritional supplements to help the horse and rider combination for many years. Horses are herd animals with flight instinct. Therefore, the riders fear can influence the horse and if it reacts situations can quickly become dangerous - we want people to stay safe. Tension and resistance can often be linked to lack of suppleness and discomfort, because of which horses can form habits to cope. Some of them need to be supplemented to help and then trained out knowledgeably, so having a deep understanding of horses, Alex is in a unique position where he can help steer people and identify when it is a time for a vet, physio or over to a local trainer.
Alex has spent many months formulating and chatting to customers on Facebook, phone and Live Chat whilst training up 2 very capable members of staff to assist him with the formulating. There is now a team of 9 horse women processing orders who are happy to help and set up your online account or just simply do it all for you. If you are happy to get started on your own, simply sign up and then spend just a few minutes telling us all about our horse on a prompting document that you access via the FREE FORMULATION button on the top of the home page. After a short time you will have a text and email to say that the formulation recommendation is now available for only you to see on your account when you log back in. You may get a call to discuss any questions or queries your information has posed before a formulation is recommended. You get 20% Extra Free on your first order and all online orders get 10% Extra Free. There are always offers with Hack Up branded product codes for riders to benefit from too!
Every horse is different, they are individuals whose body responds differently to nutrients. Alex Gingell has decades of experience with the key raw ingredients that are used in the bespoke products. He has listened carefully to the feedback from professional owners, trainers and riders who together have owned 100,000’s horses for decades. Feedback is vital to help Hack Up learn more about your horse, but often even the initial formulation is highly effective as it is drawing on the knowledge and experience of so many years and horses.
The bespoke products are made up from a number of key ingredients, each is natural and human grade, all have properties that are beneficial to horses. Alex starts the process by needing to know your horses physical statistics, diet and workload, then understanding his behaviours, breeding and temperament, what is normal, and what is a change. So reading or hearing about your horse is vital for the formulation to be as precise as possible. Keeping all this information on the sophisticated website so we can refer to it all for years to come was also something Alex insisted he needed to help many more horses. So, with all that sorted, Alex pushed further, he also wanted to have a place where his customer could respond to each formulation to keep the horse's details flowing. So on each Bespoke page there is a Chat facility that goes directly to Alex and the other Formulators. Keeping the website developing in line with the pace of the market has seen the need for a full time team of dedicated Coders with cutting edge ability. At all times the focus in on keeping the service levels and product quality as rapid as they are today. Usually you have a response to your Free Formulation Form within a few hours .
The first 1,000 customers received products with handwritten labels, but they faded in the tack room conditions especially in the winter, so now we have automated labels with permanent ink with information taken directly off your bespoke page direct to the printer. These have been a huge success saving much time, with fewer aching wrists and resulting in legible labels for the duration of the bespoke and beyond.
Sometimes it takes a little while to get things right and it took Alex two years on his 16hh 12yo eventer 'Countryman' to get the dressage phase in horse trials "really sussed". He spent hundreds of hours analysing and practising movements and finally achieved a score of 22 at 3 consecutive Open Intermediate BE events in 1989, beating Virginia Leng, Mark Todd, Lucinda Green and his trainer Owen Moore. He ended up on his dressage score each time. That was when he really got the 'dressage bug' and began his judge training.
Trained to judge by both David Trott and Inga Briant, Alex became the youngest list 4 judge in the country aged 23, meaning he could judge Advanced event horses at Open Intermediate level.
Alex was a member of the ground jury at Houghton International Event 2014.
In 2011, as his children began competing he decided it was time to revisit dressage judging as he had always intended, in association with his growing family's love of riding. Now Alex judges all over the country although mainly in East Anglia due to his many commitments. Alex always takes dressage judging very seriously and is renouned for reading the situation accurately in tests and the Houghton Hall ground jury experience has spurred him on to get FEI qualified and further up the dressage judging lists. He is now set to take his List 3 exam in the next few months so watch this space!!