I cannot believe how much horses cost today in comparison to how much they cost even 15 year ago. I found an old receipt for board from 1997 (when I was full leasing an Arab). I was at a hunter jumper barn with a heated indoor, many full time staff members, etc and it was only $375 a month!!!! I pay over $100 more than that these days for a barn without an indoor. I know that times have changed and there is no use complaining about it, but what I do want to point out is that it is much more expensive these days to own a horse.
Showing a horse has gotten increasingly expensive as well. When you have show horses being sold for millions of dollars it makes it much harder for your everyday person to break in to the big leagues. That is why many riders have taken a page from the racehorse play book and started to create syndicates.
A syndicate is a group of people, sometimes as few as three and sometimes as many as 4o, who come together for the sole purpose of owning a horse. A syndicate generally a limited liability corporation (LLC) with its own organizational set up, bank account, and goals. It is totally the idea of a single horse being a business.
Syndicates start, for the most part, because a rider has found a horse that they think can compete at the top levels but they are not able to personally afford it themselves, nor can they find a single sponsor to help them with the purchase. The rider will work to get a group of people together for the price of the purchase and also to pay a certain amount for the upkeep and care of the horse. In exchange whatever winnings the horse earns will be put back into the bank account and paid out with dividends checks. Some syndicates have all owners with equal percentages, i.e. everyone pays in 20% and they will all get the same percent out. Some syndicates has someone being the primary and paying a larger percentage of the costs, but that person will also have a larger percent of the returns.
So why would I want to be a part of this? I have always dreamed of owning a top horse. With my reasonable salary it can be tricky owning Gen and paying for the Schoolmaster. There is no way I can afford to ever buy a fancy horse, let alone pay all the costs to keep it healthy and in the show ring. I honestly don’t even think I can afford to be a part of a syndicate of 40, but at least that I can still dream about. I have always wanted to be in the winners presentation at Devon, this could be my way in. Maybe someday someone out there will want a syndicate of 80 people that I can afford to be a part of, but for now I guess I will just have to keep dreaming and working to try and put myself as a rider in to the wins!