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Can you be a successful equestrian without being rich?

Can you be a successful equestrian without being rich?

After Oliver Townend’s claim after finishing second in Maryland 5* that “you don’t have to be wealthy to make it in eventing”, debate on whether this is true has arised. 

People point out that one person’s definition of “wealth” can be very different to what another person understands, while other people question whether some of the top riders of the sport under-estimate their own privileged upbringing from an early age and the benefits their connections bring. We will analyse whether it is important to be rich to become a successful equestrian. 

Horses can be free

I know this will come as a shock to some, but there are horses you can take care of for free. Stephanie Moratto, a Pet YouTuber talking for FEI explains it to us in this video:


Horses can be free if they do not have a home and need someone to take care of them. However, to take on a free horse you need to ensure you have the right facilities to ensure their care (vet fees, stables, annual vaccinations,  food, water, livery costs…) and it is possible you will take on a horse with health or soundness problems, which can cost more money in the longer run. 

Horse ownership of performance horses is around $900 to $5000. However, we have seen horses used at top show jumping competitions go up as far as $1M. The average horse costs between $100 and $10,000. 


The 3 factors that affect a horses’ cost

When considering a horse’s cost we can look at three main factors: its training, registration and breed. Horses that receive more training or specialized training can be more costly, while those who receive little to no training are cheaper to purchase. 

Also, horses that are registered will have their horse’s pedigree and performance record. The better it is, the more the asking price will be. Finally, there are breeds that are costlier than others. You might like: discover the different colour coats and patterns of horses

Bloodlines and conformation are important, but these can be avoided if you encounter a willing horse that is safe to be around and fun to ride. When you buy a horse that is more than $1500, you are probably buying a horse that had the time and money put into, making it a nice horse to own. 


Popular sport amongst rich and famous women

Regarded as the sport for the wealthy, many of the world’s richest men and women show their love of equestrian show jumping. This is not just a sport for recreation or leisure, it attracts millions of dollars in cash prizes and global recognition. 

Amongst participants we can see Bill Gates daughter, Jennifer Gates, who has joined the league of show jumping competitors, as well as Eve Jobs (late Steve Jobs’ daughter), Jessica Springsteen (Bruce Springsteen’s daughter) or Georgina Bloomberg (Michael Bloomberg’s daughter). 

Eve Jobs and Jennifer Gates own private estates in Wellington, where the Equestrian Festival is held every winter. Jessica Springsteen and Eve Jobs are on the list of top 30 show jumping women in the U.S, while Jessica Springsteen has represented her country at the Olympic Games


A sport for the wealthy? 

According to some people, the nature of show jumping accommodates the wealthy and high-placed people. Horses needed for the height jumping cost thousands of dollars to purchase and their maintenance expenses can go up to thousands of dollars every month. 

We can agree that having unlimited money makes it easier to move up in the sport, but money is not all. 

Horses are the ultimate deciders, and they don’t perform the same way every day. Horse owners and riders need to connect with their horses to perform better and there needs to be a great deal of training and effort to stay in the top. Also, money alone cannot ensure you will know how to measure steps properly or clear off a jump-off in the fastest time. 

Do you think you need to be wealthy to be successful in equestrian sports, or is it a matter of talent and hard training? Leave us a comment on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook