I’ve just had this interesting chat on #equestrianhour on Twitter where I asked what people thought of the fact that there wasn’t much happening in terms of brands sponsoring freelance coaches/instructors. I am not necessarily talking about myself as I am just a little fish in a massive pond but I know of some wider-reach coaches who don’t compete often any more but see many clients and could potentially be fabulous brand ambassadors.
I should add that I don't mean for coaches to become reps/sales people pushing certain brands onto clients.
Think about it – a little, smaller scale coach like me visits on average four different livery yards a week, two being rather large. They house a couple of hundred or more horses altogether. Most of these horses have owners who either have lessons with me or at least see me passing by.
Now, I don’t drive (driving coach is great too – think of racing cars…you can barely see the car for brands’ stickers 😉 ) so I also travel regularly on trains to London, Hampshire, Berkshire, Oxfordshire. Occasionally I also fly abroad to teach. Again – that’s some serious amount of people who see my breeches/jacket/backpack/thermos/boots etc etc on a daily basis.
The other day I was waiting for a train at a station (in my jods as usual 😉 when someone walked up to me and asked me if I rode (clue in clothing). We got chatting and it turned out she had two horses at advanced level and trained with Carl Hester (what are the chances of that by the way??).
The point is, people who ride notice other people who look remotely horsey whether they want to or not.
If a rider needs something in terms of clothing for themselves or for the horse, in terms of feeding or management – they will ask me for advice first. If I say, this and that is great, they will buy it 9 out of 10 times.
Now, let’s not forget that’s just a little me running my own little coaching programme. If you multiply this to match a situation of a much more accomplished trainer who perhaps doesn’t ride or compete that much any more but teaches many riders (who then go out and about) it seems obvious that she/he would potentially be a fabulous “sponsorship material”?
If you are an instructor – have you ever been approached by a brand who wanted visibility via your coaching presence?
If you are a rider taking lessons, have you ever asked your coach what bit best to use or where they got their boots from or their breeches from?
There isn’t a day someone doesn’t ask me what best to buy for this or that, where I got this or that from. If I say buy xyz because I think it would suit them great, they buy it.
So, as a coach, what are your experiences? Would sponsorship of things like clothing/boots/venue sponsorship so you could run clinics etc etc helpful for you?
Or perhaps, as a rider, you think it isn’t a good idea? Perhaps you look up only to competition riders to see what they wear, what their horses wear, what they feed?
Perhaps you only look up to coaches/riders who actively compete at higher levels?
I am genuinely very curious about it and although of course I would love to be sponsored myself, I am realistic and try to look at this situation with as little bias as possible.
If I had a product for riders or horses, the right coach with values I would want to promote in my product, would be the first person to approach to see how they could represent me so it makes me wonder why are most brands so focused on such saturated field as rider sponsorship is?
Your thoughts would be much appreciated!