Have you ever dreamed of purchasing a top-level International show jumping horse? Now you can thanks to a unique campaign launched by grand prix rider Richard Spooner, and you don’t need to have thousands of dollars lying around to do it.
Richard Spooner, shown here with Billy Bianca at Jumping Verona in 2012, is one of America’s most successful grand prix show jumpers. Photo: Leslie Potter.
Earlier this week, Spooner launched a crowdfunding campaign on the site Rockethub.com to help fund the purchase of a new grand prix prospect. Crowdfunding works by soliciting small donations, sometimes just a few dollars, from a large pool of backers. The practice has become popular in recent years through sites like Indiegogo.com and Kickstarter.com, where artists, musicians, filmmakers, software developers and others seek funding directly from their fans. There have been plenty of horse-related projects funded through these crowdsourcing methods, but this might be the first time a serious attempt has been made to fund an actual horse.
Prices for top show jumping prospects have skyrocketed with multi-million dollar price tags becoming more common. Most top-level riders rely on well-heeled owners to foot the bill for these pricey ponies. Syndicates, where several owners purchase shares of a single horse, are a popular way for a talented rider to obtain a high-level horse.
Crowdfunding can be loosely compared to syndicates, but instead of a few people each contributing a lot of money, a lot of people contribute a small amount of money. In the case of a syndicate, the people involved typically have some decision-making responsibilities in regards to the horse’s career and may cash in when the horse wins a big prize—or be on the hook if the horse doesn’t live up to his potential. For crowdfunding, that’s not the case. Contributors won’t be owners of the horse. They’re simply backing the first step.
That’s not to say there’s no tangible reward for participating in the project. Spooner is offering a variety of incentives for backers who contribute as little as $10. At that amount, you’ll receive an autographed photo of the horse in competition with Spooner. Incentives become more enticing as the contributions increase, all the way up to riding lessons with Spooner on his horses, plus owners’ passes to an international competition. That level of thank-you gift requires a $10,000 contribution.
Who is this crowdfunded equine athlete? That’s yet to be determined. Spooner has set his fundraising goal at $500,000, and with that funding he aims to purchase a horse around 7 years old. The horse will be a prospect, not a proven grand prix winner, but old enough to be competing soon after purchase.
Before you start thinking about how you can use this method to put a new horse in your barn, it’s important to note that Spooner has a history of success at the top level, and his backers are almost guaranteed to be rewarded with exciting results once the purchase is made. Spooner is known as “The Master of Faster” for his impressive rides in the show jumping arena. He’s won more than 100 grands prix in Europe and North America and has had much success with his current top mount, Cristallo. He even has a bit of Internet notoriety that precedes this campaign: a video of his impressive save during a round at Spruce Meadows more than ten years ago was brought to light and went viral a year ago.
For more information about Richard Spooner’s crowdfunding campaign, visit Rockethub.com.