Owner/Rider Partnerships: The Benefits

Owner/Rider Partnerships: The Benefits
News Equestrian Services

While some riders compete with their own horses, at the highest level of the sport it is common for a rider to develop a partnership with a sponsor, who owns elite sport horses and selects a talented (and lucky!) rider to compete with them. The nature of each owner/rider relationship varies, but the rider typically cares for and trains the horse (sometimes with expenses paid for by the owner) and in exchange the owner receives a cut of the prize money and gets to share in the thrill of success.

In this two-part series, we delve into the world of owner/rider partnerships, based on our experience of negotiating and maintaining such relationships.  This first article discusses the benefits of a strong owner/rider partnership, and our second article focuses on the risks that can come with entering this kind of agreement and the key points to think about when doing so.

Benefits for the rider

There are various reasons that riders benefit from partnering with an owner.

Primarily, it is often an opportunity to train and compete with a high-performance horse that the rider would otherwise not have the chance to ride. Owners also tend to have strong reputations and networks within the equestrian world and can often provide experience, guidance and contacts to support the rider in their career, no matter what stage the rider is at.


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More practically, professional riding comes with a lot of expenses and owners often support their riders financially by paying for at least part of the horse’s expenses (veterinary bills, show expenses, training and stabling costs etc.). This dampens the financial risk and burden for the rider.


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Benefits for the Owner

One of the main benefits for the owner is that, by supporting a rider, they get to invest in the sport that they love.  Aside from the reward of watching a rider develop and prosper with their support, it is also a good way for owners to deepen their links within the equestrian community. 

For horses that are not quite competition ready, it can also be a good way to have the horse trained and kept fit and healthy, with minimal input – as the rider usually takes care of that side of things.

Finally, although not always at the forefront of an owner’s mind, supporting a rider is an investment opportunity. If the owner provides a talented rider with great competition horses, they can achieve top results and take home substantial amounts in prize money, of which the owner will typically receive a cut (depending on the terms of the partnership). Additionally, the owner can invest in a horse for a rider with the goal of selling the horse. When the owner decides to sell the horse, after the rider has trained and competed with the horse, the owner can make a substantial profit.


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Beware of the risks…

With a strong partnership, both the rider and owner get to share in their success together. However, there are of course risks to this kind of partnership. Riders and owners can face complicated issues later down the line if clear conditions are not set at the beginning of the relationship regarding aspects like the level of care, permitted activities, split of prize money and liability for expenses. In our second article, published shortly, we discuss the key points to consider when entering an owner/rider partnership.


Authored by

Emma Waters
Senior Associate
Equestrian Services Team

Ellen Kerr
Trainee Solicitor 
Equestrian Services Team