It’s All About The Horse

Bug and I competing in the Advanced at Pine Top this spring. Photo by Hoofclix.

Many of you have been following my journey with my amazing horse, Win the War (aka Bug), since we made the big move up to Advanced last spring. For those that are new to our story, I have ridden all of my life, but I didn’t start jumping until about 10 years ago. I acquired Bug in 2005 from Charles Town Racetrack as a 4 year old. He hadn’t done well at the track, and I was excited to start him in his new career of eventing. Little did I know, seven years later, we would be competing in our first Advanced.

We competed at the Advanced level last year with pretty good results. We went on to the CCI*** at Bromont, where my piloting error caused us to jump outside of the flags at a corner. He jumped around three-fourths of the course like a star, so I know he has what it takes. Due to life throwing some wrenches at me unrelated to Bug, I decided to compete at the Intermediate level last fall to try to really fill in the holes.

This spring, we came out with a bang, and I was feeling really excited about the season. Unfortunately, after Pine Top, Bug popped a splint and has been out the spring season. However, he is BACK and feeling great. I have our schedule all mapped out (in pencil, of course), and I am hoping that with the amazing Bonnie Mosser’s help, we will be ready to rock and roll this fall.

Syndication is a term that is being tossed around a lot in our industry these days. It is a way for people to get involved in the sport and help riders follow their dreams. It isn’t a way for people to make money, by any means, but there are a lot of people out there that just want to be a part of something big. To own a piece of an upper level horse is a really cool way for people to live out their dreams through someone else.  There are a lot of options available, and every syndication is a bit different.

For me, syndication could be a great way to help with Bug’s yearly expenses.  Syndication is not only about being involved with the horse, but it is about supporting and backing a rider that one believes in.  I am an up and coming rider with big dreams.  I know that there are a lot of us out there. Do I tend to put all of the spotlight on Bug? Yes. He is an amazing, once-in-a-lifetime horse. However, I must remember that I have brought him along from just being off the track. I have spent countless hours building the relationship that we have. I have worked hard to get where I am. Am I perfect? No. Do I have a lot to learn? Heck yes. Taking all of that into account, though, I am doing my best to educate myself constantly. I sit on a lot of horses every day and am using every minute to try to become better.

During my research into syndication, some people had some very blunt advice for me.  I have been told that no one will want to invest in me, as Bug and I have had so few Advanced runs. I have been told that I am silly to even talk about “The Team” and myself in the same sentence. I have been told that I should sell Bug to fund the rest of my career. I have been told that it is all about the rider in this business, not just one horse. At first, I wanted to take these things personally. However, after the dust settled, I realized that these people are truly trying to give me good business advice. All of these things may, in fact, be true. Sometimes, though, you have to balance what everyone else is saying and fighting for your dreams.

To me, this sport IS about the horse. To say anything contrary to that seems silly in my mind. Each and every big-named rider has had one horse that has really sent them to the top. The good riders go on to produce more, but just getting one horse to the top is no small feat. I have other horses coming up through the ranks, but I am trying to be fair to every horse I sit on. I don’t want to push them too quickly just to make a name for myself. I realize that we are in a results-oriented world. However, how many riders do you know that have AMAZING talent, but they just aren’t sitting on the right horses? Does it make them any less stellar of a rider? The horse is a very important part of this game we play.

There has been a lot of discussion lately about horsemanship.  Arrows have been flying at riders that are putting qualifications before the best interest of the horse.  It seems ironic to me that some of the people telling me that the business is all about the rider, not the horse, are some of the same people criticizing riders for putting the RIDER before the HORSE.  To me, everything about this sport is about the horse.  Sound business practices are definitely important.  I understand that people won’t want to invest in me or my horses if I don’t make wise choices and give them a reason to want to invest.

I have not decided 100% on what I want to do.  Honestly, it scares me to sell any part of Bug, as he is THAT horse for me.  I will continue to work hard and try to improve my riding on a daily basis.  If I find that there are, in fact, people out there willing to invest in Bug and me, then I would love to share my dreams with them. Coming up with syndicate benefits is something I plan to do; I am thinking hard about what I have to offer.   I am willing to be as invested in his syndicate as they are in us.   Maybe I won’t make it in this game because of my outlook, but I am sure going to try!

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