How can you make sure owner and rider are both happy when it comes to owning an event horse? Check out our top tips
1. Get the formalities straight — make sure you have a contract or written agreement between rider and owner(s) at the outset. The Event Horse Owners’ Association has guidance notes for owner/rider agreements and for syndicates on the EHOA website and there is also advice available from World Class.
2. Great communication is the key to a long-lasting rider and owner relationship. Owners don’t want to be seen just as bankers and riders should make them feel fully involved in planning the season and changes to the plan.
3. Talk about expectations around owners’ hands-on involvement. Some owners love having their horses at home for a holiday, helping wash-off at events, looking after the rider’s children while the rider is warming up and generally being one of the team. Others want to spend time with other owners or friends at events and, while they want to pop by the lorry, they’d prefer not to be handed a sweat scraper when they do so.
4. When a horse is owned by a syndicate or multiple owners, make sure there is a clear plan for communication, whether that’s the rider speaking to all the owners, one owner being the main point of contact and then passing on information to the rest, or the rider (or their PA) updating everyone by email together.
5. Riders must not favour some members of the syndicate in terms of benefits such as stable passes at events. How these are shared out should be among the items detailed in the initial agreement.
6. Owners need to have realistic expectations. Not all horses will become superstars and a fair proportion of them suffer injuries and spend time on the sidelines — or even leave the sport altogether at a relatively early age through health problems.
7. Owners should remember to have fun! Get to know the other owners on your rider’s yard, join the EHOA and use its hospitality tent (see list below), attend end of season parties and awards ceremonies. Owning an event horse is expensive — and often heart-wrenching — so you must enjoy it for it to be worthwhile.
8. Riders should remember owners are in this to have fun and help them to do so. Create opportunities for them to socialise with other owners, such as start and end of season parties and dinners with smaller groups of owners. Make going to events a good experience. Just because you don’t want to eat before competing, that doesn’t mean owners don’t appreciate a cup of tea and a piece of cake. And owners — remember that riders get nervous and may need their space before competing.
9. If a rider/owner relationship comes to an end, try to finish on good terms and not to gossip too much about it to others. Think of it like leaving a job — the eventing world is small and you never know quite when you might need each other again in the future.
Read more about why owners get into the sport, what they enjoy about it and what they would like to see change in H&H’s eventing special, guest-edited by Oliver Townend, on sale now.
EHOA tents 2015
The EHOA will have tents at the following events in 2015 and would be delighted to see all members and owners of competing horses there.
- Burnham Market (2–4 April)
- Badminton (7–10 May)
- Chatsworth (16–17 May)
- Houghton (28–31 May)
- Bramham (11–14 June)
- Nunney (19–21 June)
- Barbury (TBC) 9–12 July
- Burgham (30 July–2 August)
- The Festival of British Eventing at Gatcombe (7–9 August)
- Burghley (3–6 September)
- European Championships at Blair (10-13 September)
- Blenheim Palace (17–21 September)
- South of England (26–27 September)
- Osberton (1–4 October)
- Weston Park (TBC) (8–11 October)
- Aldon (22–25 October)