Last week I had an email informing me about a competition to become a Blue Chip sponsored rider.

I deleted it. They`re only interested in those riding at a decent level of competition; going out every weekend, being affiliated, etc. Which is fine, but they are only advertising to other competitive riders. How many non-competitive riders are there who would still be interested in the goods?

Which led me to thinking that really one of the best ways to advertise your company`s clothes/feed/tack is for professionals to use them. I don’t just mean professional riders (We all know Mary King loves her Joules clothes) but farriers, instructors, vets, physiotherapists and dentists. After all, these people interact with the common horse riders.

From a personal point of view – if I was an amateur horse owner, perhaps in my first year of ownership – and saw my instructor wearing a particular brand of clothing and saying how warm they found their winter coat, I would take a closer look, feel the material, try it on for size, and go and order one. Likewise, if the yard owner at my livery yard used a certain brand of hard feed, I would be more influenced to try it. A couple of years ago Premier Equine rugs swept through the yard, triggered by one influential person. The type of person who should be targeted by equestrian companies.

I think the element that persuades me to buy something, especially with the advent of online shopping, is being able to try something on for size, or at least get the feel for the type of material or it`s weight. So, perhaps instead of focusing on sponsorship for competition riders, equestrian brands should try to get associations with professionals so that they reach out to everyday riders and horse owners who can see the items in use and then go and order them for themselves.

Have a little think about the number of people a farrier would see in one day. If they only shod ten horses a day that would be fifty people that they see in a five day week. And over a six week cycle of shoeing they would see three hundred clients. And that doesn`t include the people who walk past them on the yard, or friends of clients who happen to be chatting there on the day. Physiotherapists would see a similar number of individuals, if not more, and so would vets. They all, like me, visit different yards too, which increases the audience too.

As an instructor, I probably don`t see the widest range of people – I go to about ten different yards in a fortnight, and see about 30 clients a week. Yes, I see a lot of people week to week, but I am also one of the first people that they ask for recommendations in terms of riding boots, types of bits or tacks, or makes of clothing. I also have this blog and a social networking presence, which reaches out to many  I tend to recommend things that I use myself, such as my super comfy Sherwood Forest jodhpurs.

So perhaps companies would have more of a guarantee of recommendations if they formed formal associations with professionals, gave them some form of discount on their products in return for the professional using, recommending, and blogging about the products. That would ensure that the professional continued to use the products, and not opt for a different brand that is on sale when they go shopping. The company can also feature the professional in adverts, their website, and at tradeshows, which gives the professional free advertising and promotion.

When I looked at getting my personalised jacket, below, I thought that it would be good to get associations, or sponsors, who wanted their logo featured on my jacket. Perhaps the vet, farrier, physiotherapist that I use would give me a discount on their services in return for me wearing their logo on the sleeves of my jacket. I`ve just never gotten around to speaking to the individuals and looking at prices for embroidery on jackets or hoodies. Can anyone help me with this?



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