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Sponsorship – no longer just for the professionals

Gone are the days when the only sponsored riders were professionals with a string of horses. It’s becoming more and more common for amateur riders to secure sponsors which offer them a range of benefits.

As an amateur to avoid income tax and VOSA implications you will not be able to receive a cash sum, instead most companies will offer products either free or at a discount, or in some cases a training bursary.

You shouldn’t though think a company will shower you with free goodies just because you asked for them and that they won’t want something in return. In exchange you need to offer your services back to the company. Different companies will expect different things from you whether it is modelling for photo shoots, wearing branded clothing, attending events as a brand ambassador, writing a blog, leaflet drops at events or writing reviews of their products.

As an amateur when considering what you can offer to a sponsor it is important to keep in mind VOSA guidelines which relate to ‘hire and reward’ of a vehicle. Screen writing and other advertising on lorries or trailers can be seen as to infer a ‘for profit’ status as a rider even if you don’t actually receive any money and so pushes you in to the territory of needing an operating license and working tachograph for vehicles over 3.5T. The rules are not clear cut so it is best to stay on the safe side of the line and if an amateur display no advertising at all on your lorry when travelling. Remember, if you are caught out then pleading ignorance will not suffice and you may well be hit with a hefty fine.

If you ride for a living no matter how great or small, driving your lorry will automatically be considered as for hire and reward so you should ensure you have an operating licence in place and a tachograph if necessary. If in doubt always speak to VOSA directly who will be able to clarify their position and requirements.

So how do you go about getting this sought after sponsorship? Some companies run competitions to find their sponsored riders, others you will need to contact directly. In both instances you will need to create a package that stands out to the company and separates you from the numerous other requests that they will be receiving on a regular basis.

If you haven’t already got one, create a website BUT ensure it is good! It doesn’t need to be all singing and all dancing but it has to look professional and work. With modern programs such as wordpress and moonfruit available free of charge it is easy for even a total beginner to put together a professional site with minimal effort. Importantly keep it updated, nothing looks worse than a site that has not been updated in 2 years! Also consider social media, both Facebook and Twitter can be a fantastic way of gathering a following and therefore increasing your marketing potential to sponsors.

Remember when including any photographs OR images (which can include logos and backgrounds) on a website that you must comply with copyright law. For a more detailed understanding of what you can and can’t post read this article.

In any application include details of your achievements and aims in addition to what you can do for the company in return. You should include sufficient information to interest the reader but without going into too much detail. Ask a friend or family member to read your application before it is sent to check not only for grammatical or spelling errors but also to ensure it is interesting and engaging.

For examples of some amateurs who have had great success marketing themselves and securing multiple sponsorships see the below links:

Shoestring Eventing

Gift Horse Eventing


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