Experience Eventing, Part 2

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Available for syndication: Max McManamy and Project Runway

Last week saw the launch of Experience Eventing, a website that has been a labour of love and a work in progress for some years. The brainchild of a core of people within the Event Owners Task Force who want nothing but the very best for US Eventing, it’s purpose is to simplify the process of owning a US horse – whether you’re a rider, enthusiast or eventually, a breeder.  Our series continues today with Part 2, click here for Part 1.

Part 2:
Dr. Tim Holekamp and his wife, Cheryl, owned and campaigned Windfall, who took them to the Athens Olympics and Rolex as well as many other premier events, and they subsequently bred from him with considerable and continuing success. He doesn’t hesitate when I ask him what has been the most fun he’s had with syndication and eventing,

“The anticipation of going to London, and watching a horse that I own a piece of succeed with a rider of the quality of a person such as Boyd Martin. It’s just as much fun to own a tenth of an Olympic horse as it is to own the whole horse, it’s even more fun because you can link up with other people, and if you have a rider that communicates well, it works very well.  A great owner does not have to have deep pockets: with syndication for a relatively small amount of money you can own an eighth or a tenth of a very top horse, or an emerging horse.”

The EOTF’s affiliation with the USEF means it can pass on some very nice exclusive bonuses to Experience Eventing members – there is already an owner’s house booked in a prime location at Greenwich for this summer, course walks and dinners are often organised to be co-ordinated with riders and coaches, and planned photo opportunities with your horse whilst he’s grazing or before warm-up for example, so that owners never feel like they’re being short-changed for time with their horse, or rider. Whereas perhaps it’s true that ten owners might not get individual stable passes, ten owners might not want to hang around the stables feeling in the way, and instead can enjoy themselves as a group and take advantage of the camaraderie and all the other special perks syndication has to offer. 

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Available for syndication: Ringwood Magister with rider Tiana Coudray at Gatcombe last year

There may also be  substantial financial perks available too as a result of the way the LLC is set up, although that should never be the incentive to become an owner. Dr. Holekamp again,

“We don’t want an owner to see this as a tax dodge or a profit-making proposition because it’s neither one, it’s an opportunity to be right up close and personal as a supporter of one of the ‘real-est’ horse sports left on earth. It is absolutely the most real thing I know of that you can do with a horse.”

Dr. Holekamp’s wife Cheryl still competes and judges in dressage, but being members in three syndicates gives them a different perspective altogether,

“It’s a way to be an owner at an international competition, it’s a way to stay in touch with people who are on their way up, it’s a way to have a real connection to a horse that is one of those rare talents that can do upper level eventing.”

Owners in a syndicate need two things, according to Dr. Holekamp, both of which the EOTF delivers. They are,

“To be protected from horse liability: owners have virtually no control over what happens with their horse and yet as owners they have potential legal liability – that’s been pretty thoroughly solved with carefully written LLC structures.”



“A limit to how much support they’re going to be required to give. Sometimes when the sky’s the limit and there’s an unforeseen incident –  for example, lots of vet bills, it can turn into astronomical numbers. We don’t want that to happen, we want everyone to know going in that there’s a maximum they’re going to be exposed to.  
The only really good answer in the absence of federal money to support international eventing, such as in other countries,  is to create small bills for people instead of big bills.”


Elite rider seeking a horse for syndication: Clark Montgomery

Dr. Mark Hart also added that the website has enabled owners and riders to better understand the whole syndication process. They now have access to a tangible product that demonstrates the terms of the syndication agreement so the owners know what they are getting in return for their financial support and the riders know what is expected of them from the owners.
“This transparency and knowledge is what our sport needs to grow and develop now and in the future in order to attract and retain new owners.”

Both Dr. Hart and Dr. Holekamp, as well as all the members of the EOTF have spent countless hours out of their incredibly busy lives making Experience Eventing a reality, with no personal gain except hopefully the satisfaction of improving the lot of US eventing, and I have to wonder why they would bother. Dr. Holekamp tries to articulate it for me,

“I find drama and irony every where I turn in eventing and I never find it in dressage, and I work in both worlds! That’s part of why I love eventing, it’s amazing how exciting some of the things are that happen in this sport and the fantastic excellence you’ll see as a result. It’s one of the last sports in the world where top level horsemanship is consistently rewarded – not occasionally, not accidentally but consistently.”

Many, many thanks to Dr. Hart and Dr. Holekamp for taking extra time to talk to me, and congratulations on the fabulous new website, and of course to Boyd who’s on his way to Southern Pines for the Syndicates’ horses first run of the year. Good luck and Go Experience Eventing! 

PS: Boyd told me I was welcome to post one of the Syndicate update videos on here for my story, they are all available on Youtube, so I’ve duly embedded it below for you, but I tend to agree with Dr. Holekamp, it does feel personal to the syndicate members and I felt a bit squeamish watching it, as if I was reading someone’s diary or prying into something I shouldn’t, and I have to admit, as much as I love Boyd I stopped after less than a minute!

Go Neville and Otis this weekend, and keep up the good work Boyd!

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