• Catie Staszak

What's Next for Andy Kocher

By Andy Kocher as told to Catie Staszak

Sound Bites by CSM introduces its guest commentary with input from Andy Kocher, who capped his winter season with a career best position on the Longines World Jumping Rankings, coming in at 70th in the world. Kocher, who helped Team USA take home the win in the CSIO4* FEI Nations Cup at the Winter Equestrian Festival in March, had his season cut short due to the Coronavirus pandemic just as he was making a career change, leaving his position as head rider for Erica Hatfield to expand his Andy Kocher Showjumpers business. He’s using his time away from competition to develop exciting young prospects and get innovative with his sales business, one of the largest in the country, with three bases across the U.S.

I was planning for this [career] change to happen. I didn’t say it to anyone, but I knew in my head that I’d had about enough. It was time to move on! It happened about three or four weeks sooner than I was planning, but that’s how things go.

I thought, ‘Well, I’ll build up my young horses and my green horses, and I’ll plan my summer out.’ I was going to go to Virginia for the summer, and then I was going to have my brother in New York and Tom [Foley] in Pennsylvania.

We were planning to finish WEF out. I had one FEI horse left, [Top Line Sporthorse International’s] Coldplay, and I was going to build up the younger ones a little bit. I was going to do the [Longines Global Champions Tour of Miami Beach], just because it’s a hard show to get into, and I was qualified. Then I was probably going to take a little break and train the young ones again and see what I had. I had them out with my other riders, and they were developing them in Texas, in Ohio, and in Georgia, so I hadn’t seen them all winter. I wanted to see which ones were green, which ones were [ready to go], which ones were going to be Grand Prix jumpers, and which were going to be children’s jumpers.

Then, Coronavirus happened, and they cancelled all the April shows. I thought, ‘Okay, good. I have three weeks to train before Kentucky Spring [in May].’ Then they cancelled Kentucky.

I’m Focusing on Training.

Now, we’re not focusing on competition. We’re focusing on really training these horses and seeing what we have. It’s going to be nice, because we’re going to have a few months where we ride every day. We haven’t missed a day, because if we do get going in June or July, we’ll have some ready horses.

We’ll teach the younger horses to jump the water, the walls. We bought some new jumps from Dalman Jump Co., so we could train like a horse show. I’m trying to have a very good course where I have an open water, a nice liverpool, a big wall—anything you’d see at a show. So, when the shows start, I’m ready to roll—and these are horses that probably haven’t been to many horse shows.

[When riding for my previous owner], I had to pass on [the sales side of my business] to my staff, and they did a good job. They started out very slow, but toward the end, they were holding their own. They were making some sales, doing some leases, and doing some deals, but it took six months to train them. I had to train them for everything—what to say on the phone, how to answer questions, how to make leases and write up bills of sale.

Now, I can get back to that, and it’s something I really enjoy. I’ve been on the phone, and just by being on the phone myself and having time to return messages, we’ve had several horses get vetted. People have time to talk now and to look at videos. I think it’s been good.

The Sales Landscape is Going to Change.

Here’s the thing: How are people going to check results [for a sale horse] if there are no results? If someone comes to me and says, “I want a ready-made junior jumper,” well, this one is—but he’s not going to have results. He would, but there are no shows.

I really think that the market for young prospects is going to be the new thing. People have time to train them now. You can ride and work with a 4- or 5-year-old now. You’re not going to a horse show. This is a great time to be investing in 3-year-olds, 4-year-olds, and 5-year-olds or just young, green horses, of any age that are on the cusp of doing what you want them to do next by the summertime. I really want to get out there and promote the foals we have. We have nine or 10 foals on the ground this year, and next year we’re going to have 20 more coming on the ground.

I think the horse business will be okay, but I think the sale of competition-ready horses will slow down for a bit, because the excitement, the thrill of it all—it happens at the competitions, and that’s not going to happen for a while. The sale of prospects and green horses will pick up.

The Time to Buy Online is Now.

I did an online auction once through a company, and I thought it was successful. We ended up selling three or four horses, and I ended up doing a couple private sales because of it.

Paul Schockemöhle recently told [Danish publication St. Georg] that the only thing still returning profits for him were his online auctions. I’ve bought many horses off of those auctions, and I like them, because they give you the x-rays, so you can have your vet look at them and make your own judgment off them, and you might get a deal. I think we’re a little behind the times [with online auctions]. I’m going to be in Wellington until at least the middle of May, and I'm going to launch [an online auction] of my own from here.

I’m Excited About the Young Horses in My String.

I know Doirin Clover Boy will be a good horse. Barring anything crazy, I think he’ll be a horse for teams by next season. I think he’ll be a good horse for WEF next year. He can really jump. He doesn’t touch the poles; he’s scopey. I think he’ll be a big-time horse for sure.

I also have a horse I’m riding for Stony Ride Management and Sam Tuerk named Camryn. He’s a homebred of the Tuerk family. They always knew he could jump, but he’s a bit big for Sam’s taste, so she let me have a few jumps on him, and I got a really good feeling. I started showing him a bit and went right into the 1.40ms. He had his passport ready to go and jump some FEI classes before the circuit was put on hold.

I have a 7-year-old named Cavaquisa PS that I think will be a good horse. I bought her from Paul Schockemöhle as a 5-year-old. She’s only been to one horse show in her life, but by the time we get done this spring, she’ll be ready to go.

I think there are some new, up-and-coming horses here that we’ll see in the five-star classes or jumping for Team USA.

“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” That was the famous quote from the Depression. Those fear people won’t buy, but there are going to be people who make money from this for being creative. For me, this is a terrible thing, but I’m going to try to make it a good thing for my business.

Andy Kocher Sport Horse Auctions launches the first of its kind exclusively online sport horse auction in America in May 2020. To learn more, visit Auction.AndyKocher.com.