Friday, December 31, 2010

Sponsorships 2.0 - Tips for the Young Professional Rider

So you followed our advice in our “Sponsorships 101 - Tips for the Upcoming Rider" blog post and you’ve successfully secured your first corporate sponsorships… wohoo! Now what?

First, you have to realize you’re not in Kansas anymore. It is essential to understand that a sponsorship agreement is a business contract with obligations on both sides. Here is our advice to build a successful sponsorship relationship.

1. Have a contract or clear agreement

The equestrian market operates somewhat casually, but to avoid any misunderstandings, both parties should work out in advance what the sponsorship entails. You should get the terms in writing, preferably in a formal contract or at least an email.

The contract should cover 3 aspects:
  • What are you going to give me?
Sponsors generally give product/services (or a discount if it’s a high ticket item) to the sponsored rider. It could vary along the way but some value should be stated on the contract. For example, the contract could say “we will supply X, Y, Z for your X number of horses.”

It goes without saying that once you have a corporate sponsor, you should use their products in public at all times. For example, if you have a clothing sponsor, you should only wear their clothes – so if they are only giving you 3 outfits and you really would need 5, instead of wearing something else, check if you can get a discount on the extra 2. You need to be proactive and think of these things before you sign on the dotted line.
  • What am I required to do?
You are probably going “yippee! I’m getting free stuff!” but a sponsorship means that you have obligations and you should know what you are expected to do. The terms will vary depending on the company but on the contract, you may find specific requirements, like displaying the company’s logo on your website, a banner at horse shows…etc.

The company will probably want to use your image. Not all riders do, but if you want to have control of your image, you can ask for the right to have final approval on photos. If you do, make sure to promptly respond to emails as the marketing world operates on very tight deadlines.
  • Time frame
The great majority of sponsorships work out well for both parties, but a contract should state the length of the agreement and how to terminate it.

2. Understand the "unwritten rules of your sponsorship contract"

These might not be explicitly written in a contract but  you should understand them in order to navigate in peaceful sponsorship waters.
  • You are now an ambassador for a brand.
The equestrian market is relatively small compared to other sports and one athlete is unlikely to affect sales in a million-dollar way. Nonetheless, once you have corporate logos on your trailer, you should be mindful of your conduct and behave in a professional manner at all times. What you do or say in public reflects on your business and your sponsors. So, as I tell young riders: wear a helmet, pet your horse and be nice to people!
  • Learn as much as possible about the product
At horse shows, other riders might come up to you and ask specific questions about the products you endorse. You are not expected to be an expert, but you should know as much as you can so you don’t give out wrong information. If it’s a technical product, you might want to keep some brochures in your tack trunk.

Also, ask the company what to do if you have a client interested in purchasing. Should you tell them to call the local rep? The main office? Refer them to the website? Don’t be afraid to ask as most companies will have a preference but will sometimes forget to discuss it with you.
  • Facebook, Twitter, Blogs: don’t be shy…promote yourself!
Most upper level riders move in circles of their peers (besides their clients), so they don’t always realize how many people are out there, watching them. But low level amateur riders form the vast majority of the equestrian community (I don't have specific numbers but I would say probably 99%). These riders are passionate about the sport and always on the look-out for helpful tips and information on how the pros do things. The internet provides the perfect vehicle to reach out to them, share your knowledge and passion for the sport.

Social media offers a great (and free!) platform to promote yourself, so get on the Facebook, Twitter and Blog bandwagon asap. Make it a point to spend a few hours every week updating new, relevant content. It will be worthwhile for your own business and will increase your "sponsorship value" if I can be so crude. On Facebook, I would advise to have a separate page for the business from your personal one. Drunken photos in your underwear are a no-no on both.
  • Avoid conflicts between sponsors
So…you only have one head and your 5 sponsors all want you to wear their hat at a big competition. (BTW - They might not come out and say “hey, wear my hat” but if they give you a hat, they want it on your head…).  It is your job to avoid conflicts between sponsors and keep everyone happy. You should have a clear plan and determine who gets a piece of what (maybe even with sponsorship levels). Learning to service and balance your various sponsors’ needs requires work, much like becoming a successful rider. You can learn a lot from more experienced riders or have mentors in the business world who can advise you.

Also, your sponsors might send you generic products with their logo (clothing, saddle pads, horse blankets). If you have a sponsor in that category, make sure to refer them to your sponsor as you should not accept conflicting products.

Communication is the key to any successful relationship so if you are not sure about something, don't be afraid to pick up the phone or send an email.

It is worthwhile to learn how to manage sponsorships well. Sponsors are investing in you, so do what you can to help them, acknowledge their contribution and you will be able to maintain solid relationships throughout your career.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Nominate ECOGOLD for Equestrian Social Media Awards!

If you enjoy our videos, Facebook page, Twitter page and everything we do on the social media front, please nominate us for the Equestrian Social Media Awards.

It is very's how:

On Facebook - Click here to go on the Equestrian Social Media Awards Page, you have to "Like it", click on "Post" and write "I nominate ECOGOLD (make sure to @ our page) for best 14. Saddlery and 1.You Tube Channel"

On Twitter - Tweet " #equestriansocialmediaawards and then @ECOGOLD for 14 and 1" 

Voila! It's super easy, doesn't cost anything and it will make Patricia very happy. :D

Once you've voted, come back here and watch these fantastic ECOGOLD videos...

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Training Tips from Top Riders - Phillip Dutton, Oliver Townend, Karen O'Connor and more!

One of the most popular seminars at the USEA Convention was “Training Tips with Top Riders” where Phillip Dutton, Becky Holder, Karen O’Connor, Amy Tryon, Oliver Townend, Buck Davidson and Allison Springer answered questions from the audience. Enjoy the videos!

Training Tips from Top Riders - Part 1 - Phillip Dutton, Becky Holder, Karen O'Connor, Amy Tryon, Oliver Townend, Buck Davidson, Allison Springer

Training Tips from Top Riders - Part 2 - Phillip Dutton, Becky Holder, Karen O'Connor, Amy Tryon, Oliver Townend, Buck Davidson, Allison Springer

Training Tips from Top Riders - Part 3 - Phillip Dutton, Becky Holder, Karen O'Connor, Amy Tryon, Oliver Townend, Buck Davidson, Allison Springer

Training Tips from Top Riders - Part 4 - Phillip Dutton, Becky Holder, Karen O'Connor, Amy Tryon, Oliver Townend, Buck Davidson, Allison Springer

Training Tips from Top Riders - Part 5 - Phillip Dutton, Becky Holder, Karen O'Connor, Amy Tryon, Oliver Townend, Buck Davidson, Allison Springer

Training Tips from Top Riders - Part 6 - Phillip Dutton, Becky Holder, Karen O'Connor, Amy Tryon, Oliver Townend, Buck Davidson, Allison Springer

Sports Psychology - is your mental preparation holding you back?

One of the most interesting seminars at the USEA Convention featured Equestrian Sport Psychologist Daniel Stewart. He talked about the importance of turning negative thoughts into positive ones. For example, saying “I’m going to jump clear” is positive as opposed to the negative “I’m not going to have a rail down”. They basically mean the same thing but in the mind, having positive thoughts instead of negative ones is a more effective way  to succeed. The seminar was very entertaining and informative, covering all aspects of sports psychology and relating them to riding: how to build confidence, the power of mental images, how to manage stress and how to specific goals and not lose focus.

Here’s the video of the Sports Psychology Seminar, courtesy of the USEA.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Helmets in dressage - Should they become mandatory?

After US Olympian Courtney King-Dye's accident, a handful of Grand Prix riders started wearing helmets in the dressage ring. This started a pro-helmet movement with more and more riders wearing one,  while warming up and in competition. The movement spread to eventing when US event rider Allison Springer became the first rider in a helmet in the dressage phase at the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event.

"Should helmets become mandatory?" and "to what degree?" will be questions on every North American eventing and dressage association's agenda.

Dressage Canada wants to lead the way and make helmets mandatory in the warm up for all riders. The United States Dressage Federation and United States Eventing Association will discuss various rule proposals at their respective conventions , that range from recommending helmets to making them mandatory at varying levels.

Coincidentally, most ECOGOLD-sponsored dressage riders support riding in helmets. At the Royal Winter Fair, we had an informal discussion with members of the Canadian Dressage Team. Some of the pro-helmet riders told us that they had been pressured not to wear them in competition and that a mandatory helmet rule was needed. "They have to make helmets mandatory." said one of the riders "There will be a big fuss for a year or two, but then everyone will get used to it and our sport will move forward." We were joined by Charles Owen president Roy Burek, who is based in the UK, where "the helmet issue" is not on the radar. We had a great chat which ended with Mr Burek fitting Olympian Jacquie Brooks with a new helmet, that she wore the following night in the Grand Prix Freestyle (see video below).

 When asked if helmets should be made mandatory, Jacquie Brooks told us:

"The move towards wearing helmets is a positive and overdue one. Dressage is not only behind other equestrian sports such as jumping and eventing but lagging far behind many sports such as skiing, bike riding and hockey both on professional and recreational levels.
The argument they don't look as good is simply not appropriate. It is time to treat our sport like the sport it is. Technology to protect us should be welcomed not rejected."
Jacquie Brooks and Gran Gesto - Freestyle at the 2010 Royal Winter Fair

Olympic Three-Day event rider Chelan Kozak, who represented Canada at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics and 1994 World Equestrian Games,  would also support a mandatory helmet proposal : "I'd be sad to see the traditional look of the top hat be forced out. But as a 1995 head injury survivor, I would support a mandatory helmet rule. I'm old enough to recall this same debate over body protectors and approved helmets. A safety device that SHOULD be implemented at preliminary level and above are cross-country: air vests!"

Jill Kreiser Jardie, an dressage rider from Alberta, Canada confesses to have mixed feelings: "I wear my helmet all the time except  in the competition ring, where I do like the traditional top hat....I am an advocate for helmets, but have mixed feelings about the loss of a top hat".

Ellen King, a Quebec dressage coach, would like consistency in the proposed rules: "I contacted Equine Canada's rules committee about the proposed changes to suggest consistency. What is allowed in the competition ring, should be allowed in the warm-up. Usually things are allowed in the warm-up and not in the competition ring, not the other way around. I think there is some resistance to making it a rule that helmets must be worn in the competition ring, especially at the FEI levels."

Sara Seidman, an amateur rider from Ontario, Canada strongly supports a mandatory helmet proposal: "Helmets may not be as pretty as top hats, hunt caps or cowboy hats...but they are a helluva lot prettier than brain damage."

Well said Sara. ECOGOLD supports the use of protective headgear in dressage at all levels, in the warm up and in competition.

In 2010, we changed our product labels and marketing materials to show images of Grand Prix dressage riders sporting helmets in competition. More importantly, our 2011 catalog features Olympian Jacquie Brooks, a pioneer in the  promotion of protective headgear for dressage riders at all levels, and she looks fantastic in her helmet!

What do you think?

A peek at Totilas' new barn - Ann Kathrin Linsenhoff’s horse estate

Totilas, the most famous dressage horse in the world, is presently at Paul Schockemöhle's stable, where he will remain this winter. He will move to Ann Kathrin Linsenhoff's property in Kronberg in the spring, to prepare for the 2011 show season with his new rider Matthias Rath.

Last year, Young Rider Amy Jager represented Canada at the FEI Young Rider World Cup at the CDI-W Frankfurt  riding in ECOGOLD's Stabilizer Saddle pad. Ann Kathrin Linsenhoff, the new co-owner of Totilas, is a generous sponsor of the FEI Young Rider World Cup program. Amy Jager was lucky to stay and train for a few days at her beautiful horse estate and she sent us these photos.

But first, here is the video from the press conference where Matthias Rath was introduced as Totilas’ new rider.

Photo Gallery - Amy Jager and Jive's World Cup Adventure
Amy and Jive arriving at the facility

The North American Young Riders were based at Ann Kathrin Linsenhoff’s horse estate
The Young Riders in front of the stables
Jive liking the new place!
Amy Jager and Jive
The stables

Outdoor arena
Totilas' future home

Inside the stables
Amy and US rider Kassandra Barteau in the arena

Amy and Kassie leave for Frankfurt and visit the Christmas market

 Frankfurt - the view from city hall overlooking the Christmas market
Jive travelled to the competition in style in Matthias Rath's lorry
The arena at CDI-W Frankfurt

Ready for the jog

The FEI Young Rider World Cup begins!
On the jumbotron
Amy Jager and Jive
Amy Jager and Jive

All done. Good job!

Quadrille videos from the 2010 Royal Winter Fair Horse Show

The 2010 Royal Winter Fair Horse Show saw the introduction of a fun dressage quadrille competition where teams battled for $15,000 in prize money (in a very civilized way. It is dressage, after all). Here are a couple of videos.

First, the victorious team with their winning performance in Round 2. Team "Los Mysterios" with  Stephanie Jensen, Megan Lane, Whitney Harris and David Marcus. OlĂ©!

Team Brookhaven, coached by Olympian Jacquie Brooks, rode in ECOGOLD’s Frictionless Saddle pads and did a very touching Remembrance Day routine.

Team members Joyce Cameron, Leah Wilson, Jen Kellock and Lori Bell dedicated their ride to family members who had served in the Armed Forces during World War II.

Video - Team Brookhaven Quadrille at the 2010 Royal Winter Fair Horse Show

Jaimie Holland and Fleurina selected for FEI Young Rider World Cup

Jaimie Holland, who rides in ECOGOLD's Stabilizer Dressage Saddle pad, will be Canada's sole representative at the 2010 FEI Young Rider World Cup, which takes place on December 15-19 at the Frankfurt CDI-W, in Germany. This will be a great finish to Jaimie's incredible season with her mare Fleurina,  having won individual freestyle gold, individual bronze and team silver at this year's North American Junior and Young Rider Championships in Lexington, Kentucky. 
Jaimie will be sending World Cup reports from Germany, but here is an introduction in her own words.

“I am 21 years old and am pursuing an Honours Bachelor of Science Kinesiology degree with a minor in Psychology at McMaster University. My horse, Fleurina, is a 12 year old Westphalian mare out of Floristan I and Nevermind. I have owned "Nina" since she was a four year old and was brought over from Germany by Lori Bell from Norbert Van Laak's barn.

Together with the help of my long time coach Tom Dvorak, we have brought Nina up and trained her through the levels from training level to PSG now. Periodically my coach Tom Dvorak has German trainer Norbert Van Laak over for clinics that I also ride in. Nina and I share a close bond because I have had her and ridden her since she was a baby. Nina has a heart of gold and tries her heart out for me every ride. She is a true competitor and has all of the tests and the freestyle pattern memorized - sometimes she thinks she is smarter than I...which may be the case.
Nina and I have represented Canada at the North American Championships four years in a row now, sometimes qualifying at the last show and the last ride only to have personal bests at the championships each year. In 2007 we helped earn the Junior Team Gold Medal in Virginia, followed by the Young Rider Bronze Medal in 2008 in Colorado. This year has been our best so far finally cracking that infamous 70% in the technical tests and earning Individual Gold, Bronze and Team Silver medals at the 2010 North American Young Rider Championships in Lexington, Kentucky.
Getting ready for a major competition like this is very exciting, but also a lot of work. This year, I have been working with my personal trainer, Kendra Olsen, doing a lot of cross fit workouts to prepare physically. Additionally, I have been working with Sport Psychologist, Dana Sinclair, from Human Performance International since my first year at Juniors to make sure I am mentally prepared. To cap it off, making sure every ride I have a game plan ahead of time of things I want to work on and achieve, and just honing Nina's and my skills and partnership. I can't wait to get there and just ride and have fun!!!!!!”

Video - Jaimie Holland and Fleurina - Young Rider Freestyle at the 2010 Wellington Dressage Classic

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Small Business Saturday!

We don't like to be preachy but today is "Small Business Saturday", an excellent initiative to encourage consumers to support small businesses.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Team Brookhaven's Remembrance Day Quadrille at the Royal Winter Fair

The Royal Winter Fair Horse Show innovated this year, with a dressage quadrille competition where four teams fought for $15,000 in total prize money.
Team Brookhaven, coached by Olympian Jacquie Brooks, rode in ECOGOLD’s Frictionless Saddle pads and did a very touching Remembrance Day routine.

Team members Joyce Cameron, Leah Wilson, Jen Kellock and Lori Bell dedicated their ride to family members who had served in the Armed Forces during World War II.

Here is the video of their Quadrille Competition routine at the Royal Winter Fair.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Ecogold Sponsors Three Teams Including Silver Medal Winning Canadian Eventing Team at 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games

Press release and Photo credit - Amber Heintzberger

October 3, 2010 -- Lexington, Kentucky -- Ecogold is the proud sponsor of the silver medal-winning Canadian three-day eventing team and the fourth-placed US eventing team as well as the Canadian dressage team at the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in Lexington, Kentucky.

The Canadian eventing team, including Hawley Bennett, Kyle Carter, Selena O’Hanlon and Stephanie Rhodes-Bosch as well as Canadian individuals Rebecca Howard and Jessica Phoenix used Ecogold saddle pads for all three phases of the eventing championship. Riders raved about the quality and technical superiority of Ecogold saddle pads as well as the outstanding support that they receive from the company.

Rebecca Howard said, “We use Ecogold pads for all three phases and they are fabulous! The cross-country pad is the one that I am especially excited about. They look classy and they don’t move.”

Howard also commented on the success of the Canadian riders at WEG, “What do you say? We’re all thrilled! Everybody just did their job and it worked out like it is supposed to.”

Canadian team member Hawley Bennett-Awad said, “Ecogold has been a huge factor in the Canadian team. The horses look beautiful and the saddle pads are amazing. People have been asking about them all through the competition. We just got the ‘Who Dat?’ award here at WEG, but I think that at the London 2012 Olympic Games we will be a team to look out for!”

Stephanie Rhodes-Bosch said, “Patricia from Ecogold has been amazing. I ride in a custom saddle that’s gigantic and Ecogold had special pads made; they have been great supporting all of us. I love the way the pads fit the saddle and the horses’ backs have stayed cool and didn’t get sore at all during this strenuous competition.”

Ecogold also sponsors the US eventing team of Phillip Dutton, Boyd Martin, Buck Davidson and Karen O’Connor as well as individual competitor Becky Holder.

Top US finisher Boyd Martin said, “Galloping around the enormous and somewhat terrifying cross-course at the WEG, I was confident that my horse’s back would be comfortable and my saddle would stay put thanks to my Ecogold saddle pad. The company has been very supportive not only during the WEG but of my riding career here in the USA.”

Incidentally, popular Australian rider Peter Atkins, who wears a helmet camera to film his rides, also rides his horse Henry Jota Hampton in an Ecogold cross-country pad. Atkins’ slogan “Run Henny Run” is printed on hats and T-shirts and was mentioned several times on the televised broadcast of the championships.

The Canadian dressage team included Ashley Holzer, Belinda Trussell, Bonny Bonnello and Victoria Winter. Holzer placed eighth in the Grand Prix Freestyle at the WEG.

As well as supporting these teams, Ecogold sponsors nine of these riders, who dominated their team selections for the World Equestrian Games, on an ongoing basis. Ecogold also sponsors leading show jumping rider McLain Ward, who is competing on the US show jumping team at the WEG.

In addition to saddle pads, Ecogold manufactures open-front horse boots, cross-country horse boots, and dressage boots.

Ecogold is comprised of a team of experts in the field of textile engineering with more than 40 years experience in high-performance materials. All Ecogold products are made in a company-owned factory in Montreal, Quebec, Canada to ensure the best quality materials and workmanship.

For more information or to order Ecogold products, please visit or call 1-866-432-6465.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Ecogold-rider McLain Ward on the TODAY Show!

McLain Ward, who rides in ECOGOLD saddle pads, was interviewed on NBC's Today Show, with fellow show jumper Georgina Bloomberg, to talk about the World Equestrian Games. Here are some photos!
TODAY show host Matt Lauer interviews Georgina Bloomberg and McLain Ward
McLain was there to talk about the World Equestrian Games

" guys jump big jumps like this?" "Yep!"
Wohooo!! Let's go for GOLD!!
Sapphire gets her close-up...and her ECOGOLD saddle pad underneath!
World Equestrian Games will be televised on NBC

Friday, September 17, 2010

ECOGOLD riders dominate US Eventing Team Selection for World Equestrian Games

Not only has the US Eventing Team chosen to ride in ECOGOLD Saddle pads at the FEI World Equestrian Games in Kentucky, but when the final selection list was announced earlier this week, we were proud to see a majority of the team formed by ECOGOLD-sponsored riders.

The United States Equestrian Federation has named the following horse and rider combinations as the team and individuals to the U.S. Eventing Team for the FEI World Equestrian Games which will take place from September 25-October 10, 2010 in Lexington, KY.

Congratulations to the riders who made the selection! Click on their names for their profiles in our Hall of Champions:

Team USA Riders:

Buck Davidson and BallyNoe Castle RM
Phillip Dutton and Woodburn
Boyd Martin and Neville Bardos
Kim Severson and Tipperary Liadhnan

Individual riders:

Karen O'Connor and Mandiba
Becky Holder and Courageous Comet

Thursday, September 16, 2010

ECOGOLD rider McLain Ward and Sapphire Win Richest Grand Prix in Show Jumping History

HITS Press Release/ Photos: ESI Photography.

Two-time US Olympic Gold Medalist McLain Ward of Brewster, New York, who rides in ECOGOLD Saddle pads,  and his majestic, "million-dollar" mare, Sapphire, owned by McLain Ward and Blue Chip Bloodstock, won the inaugural Pfizer $1 Million Grand Prix on Sunday, September 12 at HITS-on-the-Hudson in Saugerties, New York.

The legendary duo of Ward and Sapphire proudly added their names to the show jumping history books once more when they bested a field of 43 High-Performance riders before an energetic and enthusiastic crowd of thousands that lined all four berms surrounding the Strongid Stadium. Sunday's line-up featured some of the best and most promising athletes and horses in the sport, including some of America's brightest up-and-coming stars and several American and International Olympians..

Olympic Course Designer Steve Stephens of Palmetto, Florida set a challenging and technical course that was decorated to the hilt by Olympic Course Decorator Flora Baptiston of Brazil.

"The course was brilliant," explained Ward. "Steve [Stephens] has been a great course designer for years, and he was a brilliant rider before that. Today was a great balance of tests."

After a successful week of show jumping, the Strongid Stadium was transformed into a field of dreams, as custom jumps, exclusive to the Pfizer $1 Million Grand Prix, including a fence from the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, set the stage for the biggest event of the year.
Another ECOGOLD rider, Charlie Jayne of Elgin, Illinois and The London Group's Athena led the crowd to a thunderous applause when they captured the first clear effort of the class. The pair finished second in the jump off.

"This was the biggest class I've ever competed in," said Jayne. "I felt the presence of the crowd, and that we were all jumping for the fans today. HITS did a great job of getting an audience to come out for the class."

Jayne and Athena tasted success earlier in the season at HITS-on-the-Hudson when they captured the $125,000 Strongid© C 2X Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health.

The best was saved for last when Ward and Sapphire immaculately took the victory with a faultless round in 44.782 seconds, as the crowd witnessed history-in-the-making for the once-in-a-lifetime pair.

"I owe my career to her [Sapphire]," said Ward, who now nears the four-million dollar mark on his mare. "I watched Charlie go, and I've got to say, standing at the gate, I was nervous. There was a lot of money on the line."

Ward and Sapphire led the way in a victory gallop, joined by the top 20 horse-and-riders of the class as the crowd cheered approvingly of the outcome.

"McLain is the best rider I've ever seen, probably will ever see, so it's an honor to be in second place," exclaimed an ecstatic Jayne. "I'm grateful to be able to compete in a class like was an excellent event today, and I couldn't ask for anything more."

Thursday, August 26, 2010

A sneak peek at the saddle pads for the World Equestrian Games

ECOGOLD is busy this month making the saddle pads for teams that will be competing at the 2010 World Equestrian Games in less than a month.

Here are some photos...

Canadian Dressage Team Saddle pads are ready!
Ashley Holzer's saddle pads

Canadian Eventing Team Cross-country saddle pads
Some riders have special saddles, which means custom saddle pads - this is Rebecca Howard's
Stephanie Rhodes-Bosch's pattern on the cutting table

US Eventing Team Saddle pads - don't worry, they will be ready...
Team USA's Cross-country Saddle pads
Phillip Dutton's special pattern for his blue XC saddle

Will look like this.