American show jumper Richard Spooner wants you to give him $500,000 to buy a horse. And the crazy part is that’s probably not even enough.
The US equestrian team veteran has turned to crowd funding in an effort to finance his next Grand Prix horse. It’s a novel approach to an ongoing issue for top professionals, but it’s going to be a hard sell. And not because he doesn’t deserve it.
Spooner is among show jumping’s elite. He’s currently ranked 7th in the USA and 46th on the Longines World Rankings. He’s won more than 100 Grand Prix classes, including the prestigious Grand Prix of Monaco a record three times. And he has a reputation for being exceptionally hard working and helpful.
He also lives in France full time. And that hurts his image.
The perception is that most elite show jumpers are living a life of champagne dreams and caviar wishes. Compared to the average person, that’s probably true. There are trickle down perks to being surrounded be opulent wealth and competing at five star European shows. Some of which are literally champagne and caviar.
But competing at the top of the sport also comes at an exorbitant price. Spooner’s best horse, Cristallo, is 17 and coming to the end of his competitive career. For Spooner to continue showing at the elite level, he needs horse power. And at the going rates, the top horses are out of the price range of even the top riders.
And not by a small sum. Last year, well known horse dealer Jan Tops bought the 11-year-old chestnut gelding Palloubet d’Halong for a rumored 11 MILLION EURO. (That’s $15 Million US). In their bid for the 2012 Olympics, the Saudi Equestrian Team spent nearly $40 million Euro.
At those rates, the $500,000 Spooner is asking for wouldn’t buy the left leg of a competitive Grand Prix horse. He’s hoping it’ll buy him a young horse with Grand Prix potential.
He’s not the first elite athlete to turn to crowd funding to support his career either. The Jamaican bobsled team crowd funded their way to the 2014 Winter Olympics. US ski jumper Lindsey Van raised over $20,000 to help cover her expenses for Sochi. Canadian Alpine skier Larisa Yurkiw picked up $22,476 for the same.
The difference is those athletes aren’t competing for $500,000 plus in prize money or winning luxury watches.
So does someone who claims a higher income than you deserve your money? That depends on how big of a show jumping fan you are. Spooner’s not asking us to finance his lifestyle. He’s asking for a horse so that he can continue to represent the USA at the top of the sport. And so that he can continue to do amazing things like this:
Personally, I’ve always wanted to own a Grand Prix horse. The fact that I can now do it for as little $10 is icing on the cake.
Find out more about Spooner’s project at RocketHub.
Carley Sparks covers North American show jumping at getmyfix.org. It’s fun there.