Friday’s Five – Tips to help riders of all levels find horse owners

bitofbritain-Week1

 

Friday’s Five – Tips to help riders of all levels find horse owners

You do not need to have an Olympic appearance on your record to seek out ownership support. There are many individuals who would be interested in joining your team and supporting your riding journey even if you are not targeting a four-star in the near future. But when you head out looking for owners you need to forget the traditional model of ownership – a wealthy individual already steeped in Eventing culture – and broaden your horizons to bring new people into the sport. People who would get satisfaction and enjoyment from being part of a sports team and watching a horse rise up the levels.

Now that you know your target audience can be anyone, how do you go about getting them on board?  
It’s like seeing the cute guy/girl across the room…you want to go introduce yourself, but are too shy, embarrassed, or afraid of rejection. Well, here’s the good thing about owners: you’re not going to date them!  It’s a business relationship, and your world won’t end if they don’t fall madly in love with you and turn you down. But if you want to be successful there are some important steps that need to be taken.

Step 1 – Legally prepare a syndication: Before actively seeking owners, do some preparation first.  Look into the syndication process and decide how it could work for you.  If you are in the United States, check out the Event Owner’s Task Force.  Contact a lawyer to draw up the paperwork – I cannot state it strongly enough, there MUST be a written contract in place between rider and any horse owner. Once you invest in a contract, you will have it for life and will just have to change the horse and owner names, share prices etc.

There have been high-profile ownership disputes go wrong (Peter Atkins and Henny), which could have been prevented with a proper written agreement.

Step 2 – Create marketing materials: Start with some nice business cards with your name, business, and phone number.  Go a step further with a pamphlet or packet including a short explanation of the sport of Three-Day Eventing; your biography; your horse’s stats; and your intended goals.  Include a section detailing how individuals can join your team – ‘Syndication opportunities available, for more information contact: 555-555-5555 or visit mywebsite.com.’

Step 3 – Develop a brand: Attracting owners is less about how good you are, and more about how good you APPEAR to be.  Create a ‘brand’ for yourself.  What does that mean? A brand is an idea and image that a consumer connects with.  Everything you do in public (and that includes the internet) impacts your brand. A brand is more than a logo or trademark; it’s everything you do, everything you say, how you ride, how you present yourself and your horses, and ultimately how you are perceived.

 


 

Step 4 – Use social media: Make a Facebook fan page and keep it current with weekly updates.  Create a Twitter account.  Get a YouTube page to post training and show videos. This sport is about the action so showcase it whenever you can. Consider buying a professional video if you have an exceptional round to share.  Start your own website with a blog to talk about your Eventing adventures to create a connection with the people you are inviting into your sport. Social media is a free and a necessary source to make yourself a better-known rider.

Remember to always maintain a professional image. Do not display questionable behavior like drinking, drugs, inappropriate photos, profanities, fights, boyfriend love fests, etc. There’s not much to be gained from plastering your personal life all over the internet for the world to see.

Step 5 – Finding owners
Owners are everywhere and can potentially be anyone. Horse syndication enables a larger group of individuals to be able to afford to get involved. You need to interact with people outside of the Eventing world. Just like you set aside time for training, you need to set aside time to look for owners. How about one evening each month to start? An evening each week would be more productive but be realistic with the time you can dedicate.

Start with your own family and friends. Have you ever truly shared your sport and tried to involve them? You might be surprised that Aunt Jane and cousin Jennifer would like to own part of your horse, but they never knew that was an option. They may be really proud of what you do but didn’t know that they, too, could have bragging rights to your successes.

Look to the members of your community. Join business groups like your local Chamber of Commerce. Once you have your syndication contract, marketing materials and social media in place, have the confidence to walk up to potential owners and introduce yourself.  Get to know members at meetings and gatherings by asking if they have children or grandchildren. Maybe invite them to come out to your facility for a lesson to try out a really fun sport. Be sure to explain that many of the participants are adult amateurs like them. Invite them to an event and tell them to bring their clients for a fun day. You would be happy to host them at your trailer and explain the sport. Getting owners begins with starting a relationship. Shake some hands and bring people into your world. How else can they discover the great sport of Eventing?

What’s the worst that could happen?  Your card gets tossed and you move on to meet someone else.  Even if that individual doesn’t invest in you, you’ve made a new contact and potentially created a new fan – someone who may not offer financial support, but who may Like your Facebook page and share your video to others in their circle.  It’s about networking: owners aren’t going to find you, you have to go out and find them.

I wish it was as easy as letting your riding and horsemanship speak for itself, but sadly that doesn’t speak very loudly. Instead, actively market yourself to new clients and learn to sell yourself, your horse, and your sport.  Leave potential owners with a good impression and a professionally-produced advertising package for yourself and your horse and eventually, you will get a yes. Owners are out there and you can find them.

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