Investing in horsepower – How your business can benefit from buying a competition horse
In the third blog of this series, we take a look at why investing in a competition horse can be great for business.
There is no denying horses are an expensive pursuit – but there are a number of ways you can get involved without taking out a second mortgage. And if you back the right horse, you might even see a return on your investment.
Plus, owning a competition horse can bring huge rewards in other ways. Equestrian sport is exciting, glamorous and extremely sociable – and nothing quite beats the thrill of watching your own horse compete.
Aside from personal pleasure, corporate ownership can be a powerful promotional tool.
Benefits of corporate ownership
- Boost your brand: Naming the horse after your company gives you an excellent opportunity to promote your brand to a new audience. Many people involved with horses have a disposable income, so they provide a lucrative market.
- Develop client relations: A day out at an equestrian event offers a great opportunity for entertaining clients, as most big events have hospitality areas where you wine and dine them. You can also take them behind the scenes, to meet the rider, visit the yard and watch the horse in training – and give them a day out with a difference.
- Networking: Owning a competition horse can open many doors and offer numerous opportunities to network with key players from Olympic riders, to big business owners.
Horses for courses
When most people think of buying a competition horse, they think of horse racing, but there is a range of equestrian disciplines where you could invest. The three major Olympic sports, which attract the biggest crowds and biggest prize money, are showjumping, dressage and eventing. The one you choose depends on your brand, your business goals and your budget – and also which one you find most interesting.
In recent years, showjumping has seen a massive increase in prize money, thanks to investment from the likes of Rolex, and some competitions pay millions of dollars in prize money. As a result, this is the discipline of choice for the offspring of some of the most famous and wealthy Americans in the world, including Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Bruce Springsteen. If you want to rub shoulders with the stars, this is the sport for you.
As well as glamorous people, top showjumping competitions, like the Global Champions Tour, are held in the world’s most glamorous locations, including Miami Beach, Shanghai and New York.
Eventing, which is like an equine triathlon, is one of the most exciting (and dangerous) sports in the world, but also one of the most expensive! Entry fees are prohibitive, while prize money is pretty poor – even the world’s biggest events only pay around £80,000 to the winner.
However, according to Alex Vantuyll, membership secretary of the Event Horse Owners Association (EHOA), there are other perks: “You get to visit some fabulous homes and stately gardens, which often aren’t open to the public. I feel so privileged to be in these places – it really adds to the experience.”
Dressage is all about elegance, power and the partnership between horse and rider. Charlotte Dujardin brought the sport into the public domain at London 2012, thanks to her double-gold medal winning performance – and it has grown in popularity ever since. It’s an incredible sport to watch at close quarters – with truly stunning horses and a lot of bling. If you want to dazzle your clients, this is the sport for you.
How much does it cost?
As with all things in life, you get what you pay for. Grand prix showjumpers, at the top of their sport, can fetch six-figure sums, but they can also bring in big prize money.
However, you don’t have to pay millions to buy an equine athlete. To make your money go further you might want to invest in a young horse, or young rider, who are yet unproven. A promising young eventer, showjumper or dressage horse will cost around £20,000 to £30,000. You then have to take into account the running costs, which can be another £20,000 a year.
Investing in a youngster can be a gamble, but if the horse goes on to success you could see a significant return on your investment. It’s also exciting watching your horse rise up through the ranks.
The costs are similar in racing; according to a 2015 survey by the Racehorse Owners Association, the average annual cost of keeping a horse in training is £22,595 for a horse on the flat and £16,325 for a jump horse. However, its worth bearing in mind that a racehorse can be earning its keep as a two-year-old, while horses in other disciplines won’t reach their prime until they reach double figures.
One way to make your money go further is to go into a partnership with other owners, or set up a syndicate. More on this below.
Types of ownership
Owning a competition horse used to be seen as an elite pursuit. However, with an increase in popularity of syndicates and partnerships, there are now opportunities for people of all incomes and backgrounds to enjoy the excitement of being an owner.
Whichever option you choose, make sure you formalise the agreement with the rider.
“I would not go into an ownership without a written document,” says Alex. “Even if you are buying a horse for a friend, it’s a good idea to ensure there are no grey areas, on everything from prize money to vet bills.”
If you want to share the costs of ownership, setting up a partnership is a great option. Under this arrangement all partners are registered owners, but you need to decide the percentage each of you own.
There are three options under this arrangement:
- You go into a partnership with the rider
- You put together a partnership
- The rider teams you up with like-minded individuals
A syndicate is the most cost-effective way to experience the thrill of ownership. There are syndicate options for everyone, from young horses at the beginning of their careers, to established equines competing at some of the most prestigious events in the world.
It’s also a great way to network, but you don’t get all the benefits of actual ownership – unless you are head of the syndicate. According to Alex from the EHOA, it’s worth volunteering for the job.
“That way you’ll be registered as the owner, which means you get your name in the British Eventing programme and it will be read out over the tannoy at competitions. Also, you’ll be the one who deals with the rider, which means you have a better relationship with them and there will be more opportunities for client outings and experiences.”
British Eventing even offers a syndicate membership, as this is an increasingly popular option in the sport.
It’s worth bearing in mind that the FEI (International Federation for Equestrian Sports) gives out a maximum of four passes to owners for access to events, which is why syndicates for Olympic sports tend to be made up of smaller numbers than in racing.
Ultimately owning a competition horse is all about having fun with friends, family and clients – prize money is an added bonus. But once you get involved you’ll be hooked – we promise!
For more advice on horse ownership get in touch. We can advise you every step of the way, from finding the right horse and rider, to drawing up the contract.
Image credit: FEI