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Crazy idea borne from USEF syndication site: crowdsource a horse?

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  • Crazy idea borne from USEF syndication site: crowdsource a horse?

    Zany idea of the morning: could an event rider crowdsource campaign an upper-level eventing horse?

    I was inspired by the new USEF site encouraging folks to join an event horse syndicate:


    I fully support the idea of syndication and will tell all my rich friends about it. But even if I realize my most grand career ambitions, *I* will probably never be able to spare the kind of cash these syndicates need. We're talking $10,000 buy-in + $3000-$8000 in annual maintenance expenses for an elite rider, or for an emerging rider, something on the magnitude of $2500 buy-in and $2000/year in maintenance costs.

    But I bet there are HUNDREDS of us who can spare $50, maybe even $100 or $250, maybe even $1000 or $2000.

    For our luddites out there, crowdsource campaigns fund projects by spreading the funding across many donors at several funding levels. Donors pledge to give $X if--and only if--the project's stated funding goal is reached. They're easier to understand when you see one in action, so here's a (sort of relevant) example: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/...amate?ref=live

    I admit there are problems with this idea, most obviously that it would be difficult to crowdsource an elite horse's ongoing annual maintenance costs. It would be much easier to crowdsource the horse's initial purchase or the first year of maintenance costs. But for some riders, *that* is the exact hurdle they need to cross to attract "real" syndication.

    There would be publicity and public relations advantages to this approach too. I can imagine hundreds of people walking around Rolex with buttons, t-shirts, or hats marking them as small donors to a certain rider's syndicate. I can see Pony Club kids in meetings debating which rider they want to give to, why that rider deserves their money, and how the Pony Club is going to go about raising $X toward the campaign--and in the process, we're encouraging active debate in the next generation about how and why riders should be funded. They will remember those conversations when they grow up, become wealthy, and consider syndicating a rider.

    Riders who have a huge following among the ammies, like Kim Severson--or, and I hesitate to say this lest it be taken in bad taste, riders who have recently experienced a loss and could use the leg up such as Boyd Martin or Meghan Moore--could really benefit from this sort of thing. Boyd's existing sponsors bought him a new horse shortly after the barn fire to say "We still believe in you." Imagine if the whole eventing community could say "We still believe in you," $10/$20/$50/$100 at a time.

    Can you do this sort of fundraising without an Internet crowdsource campaign? Sure. But crowdsourcing campaigns make the effort very visible, make visible how many other people are "in it" with you, and a lot of donors are motivated by the idea that they only shell out cash *if and when* the campaign gets enough pledges to meet its funding goal. And having a specific URL link to pass around does a lot for getting the campaign to go viral. It could even--God forbid!--get people *who are not currently in the eventing world* to consider donating to a rider.

    So...what do we think, folks? Am I NUTS and need to go back to writing my academic papers about social media? Who among us has the cojones to try it? I'm thinking some young rider with nothing to lose, everything to gain, and a deeply inspiring story would be a good guinea pig. Someone like Nate Chambers and Rolly. And of course, who among us wants to threadcrap all over this idea?

    ETA if you know a rider who might take this idea seriously, I invite your PM. I have no money, but I'm a grad student in digital media studies and rhetoric and composition (translation: the person who studies how you would successfully build and advertise a crowdsource campaign). Frankly it's not rocket science to develop a Kickstarter or Crowdtilt campaign, but if the barrier is that you're afraid of the technology/don't know which web site to go with/want to discuss the characteristics of previous successful crowdsource campaigns, I'm your girl.
    Last edited by jn4jenny; Mar. 16, 2012, 12:38 PM.
    Head Geek at The Saddle Geek Blog http://www.thesaddlegeek.com/

  • #2
    I think it is a great idea!

    My husband and I participated in something similar with a racehorse...we often joked we owned "a hair"
    It was a wonderful and affordable experience http://www.horsehats.com/HorseRacingClub.html


    • #3
      I like it!

      I'm not knowledgable in anything businessy so I have no idea if it would actually work or not, but I really like the idea and think it could open a lot of doors if done correctly.

      I think if there was some way to make this successful, it would open a lot of doors for young riders to get through the proverbial "doorway" to the professional world, without having to miraculously convince a bunch of wealthy people that it'd be better to invest in them that has proven nothing yet instead of BM/PD/KOC/BD etc. (Not saying they don't need funding, just saying it may be helpful to potential up and comers.)


      • #4
        Could have probably helped CR with her fundraising to get to Badminton by buying a hair of Shiraz. Just a thought