So a new modern era has begun in eventing in the form of crowdfunding. This is a modern way of funding your rides whilst making the sport more accessible to the greater public. However it has been met with more than its fair share of criticism in the equestrian world.
Emily King (daughter of Mary – every Brit’s fav event rider because she is just so lovely) launched a campaign on her Instagram account asking if any of her followers would be interested in contributing via crowdfunding to secure her ride on ‘Langford Take the Biscuit’ AKA Hobby. The campaign was successful and she secured the ride via crowdfunding within a matter of days. It was reported that there are 556 people in the ‘Your Horse & Country Magazine HobNob Syndicate’. Emily has also stated that because of the way she raised the money to buy Hobby she will donate all of their future winnings to charities including World Horse Welfare of which she is a patron. Sounds cool right?
I thought so I contributed a whole £20 to become a member of the syndicate. Since then I have had a letter welcoming me to the syndicate, a copy of Hobby’s competition schedule, dates of organised course walks and yard visits (which by the way for the critics are run on a first come first served registration basis with numerous dates so the opportunities will be open to many syndicate members but not all 556 people at once) and regular updates on how Hobby gets on in his competitions. I have been impressed with the organisation and really enjoy hearing how Emily and Hobby get on.
Emily King was not the first eventer to raise money to keep their horses via crowdfunding. In 2017 Irish Eventer Jonty Evans raised £500,000 to secure his ride on Cooley Rookes Draft or Art to his friends. However it seems it is only Emily that has received criticism and man there is A LOT of it online. This is not a dig at Jonty who seems like a very likeable chap. But the only differences I can see in between the two campaigns is that Jonty was at a higher level of competition at the time as he crowdfunded to secure his ride on the horse he had ridden at the Rio Olympics. Emily is competing at BE novice level on Hobby at the moment. The other difference there seems is that Cooley Rookes Draft had an offer made on him to be purchased and Jonty campaigned asking for donations to match that amount. Emily needed to raise £40,000 which was a way lower figure and also the figure she needed to buy Hobby, however non supportive members of the horsey community seemed to have a problem with this amount stating it seemed a lot for a horse competing at that level – but hey this is the sort of thing you need to have an opinion on when you decide if you want to contribute right? Although perhaps not all over the internet in a negative trolling manner.
Perhaps people are not familiar with crowdfunding? Crowdfunding is a form of alternative finance asking a large number of people to contribute to a project or venture online. Crowdfunding is a modern massively growing market that is becoming more and more popular. In 2015 $34 billion was raised through crowdfunding – that is a lot of money! It has been used for a wide range of reasons including artistic and creative projects, medical expenses, travel and community projects. Websites for crowdfunding you may have heard of include Kickstarter, Just Giving and Go Fund Me. The principal is that there is a project instigator that proposes an idea to be funded, individuals that support the idea, and a platform that normally is a website that brings the groups together to launch the idea. What you get from contributing depends entirely on each particular project. There are reward based projects, projects that provide you with equity/shares of a project or donation based crowdfunding just to name a few examples. Emily King offered the chance to be part of a large syndicate called ‘Team HobNob’ as a reward to contributing to her cause, I would like to add that she never said the contribuer would own any tiny piece of Hobby.
Syndicates are no way a new thing in the horse industry with it being common practice in the racing world. With there being more and more larger (and cheaper) syndicates that your everyday Joe or Josephine can join without owning any percentage of a horse. Which I personally feel as a self proclaimed average Josephine is a good thing for the equestrian industry. As the equine industry has been historically elitist with only the super rich being able to be involved in high level competition. Surely expanding our sport to the greater public is a good thing? So my thoughts are, perhaps a syndicate like this is not something to invest in to make money. It is an interest you can follow whilst having the feeling of being part of something you ordinarily could not be.
Hobby and Emily won the BE Novice at Cholmondely Castle on July 30th 2018. Their next competition looks to be at West Wilts on September 7th- 8th 2018. So look out for them and give them a cheer of encouragement if you are there!
As part of the HobNob syndicate I am updated on which events Hobby will entering and how he gets on. I am invited to visit the yard and to walk a course with Emily and other fellow syndicate members which I hope to do soon and will of course write about it on here to show you all!
Follow Emily on instagram @emilykingofficial or on Facebook -Facebook.com/emilykingofficial.
Photos used were taken from Emily’s Facebook page.