Funding the equestrian habit

This week, the Eventing world is focused on the USEA (US Eventing Association) Convention in Colorado. While many of us at the lower levels are unable to attend, Eventing Nation is doing a great job of posting notes and highlights, keeping us informed.

Reading the notes and seeing what David O’Connor has in mind for bringing our eventing team up to par with the rest of the world has me super pumped to get out there and compete this coming season. Unfortunately, even though I’m smack dab in the middle of some of the best eventing barns in the country, I, like most of my fellow competitors, am not made of money.

This begs the question: how do I successfully finance the ability to train and compete my horse to progress up the levels? Discussions with my international friends about how to fund my habit program have yielded the same response as my husband: why don’t you get sponsors? Apparently, in Europe, sponsors are far more common for riders at all levels–not just those at the top of their game. And why shouldn’t they be? What better way to advertise your feed store, tack shop, farrier business, veterinary hospital, or trailer company than to slap a logo on a saddle pad, trailer, etc. for a rider who already supports your business? I’m always the first to share good news about a tack store or other business with great customer service and prices, and other riders do the same.

Sponsorships don’t have to be tremendously expensive, either. If Purina would just fund Johnny’s grain bill monthly, that would be enough to fund one or two riding lessons a month. And, if Stubben wanted to slap a logo on my saddle pad in exchange for offering trial saddles, I’d be more than happy to SHOUT about how much I (already) love my Stubben. But think about the other possibilities: my horse trailer travels all over the southeast US for competition (as well as Army PCS moves); a well-placed logo generates as much advertising (if not more) than a high-priced billboard! Why are more US businesses not offering sponsorships to riders?

In the meantime, jobless and dependent on finding sets of 1 week orders as a project officer for the AR Guard, I am frantically racking my brain to figure out ways to fund this season’s competition fees, travel expenses, and lessons.

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