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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan. 4, 2005
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    12

    Default Lessons vs Leasing

    I'm about to become a re-rider. I rode for about 10 years before college, but after my first semester I became overwhelmed because in order to afford my mare I had to work two jobs, which meant I never got to see her. I ended up selling her. I came to school in a non-horsey area so once she sold I gave up riding completely. In the past 5 1/2 years I've ridden only once. I just graduated and have decided to move to the NoVa area, where my mom now lives. Until I pay off my student debt, or at least the majority of it, I do not feel comfortable purchasing a horse as the financial responsibility worries me. I've been researching lesson barns in the area and checking into lease horses. It seems that the best situation for me would be to half-lease or full-lease one on-site at a lesson barn. Most of these that I have found require one lesson a week, and offer 2-3 rides/week on the horse. While I understand the benefits of going the lease route (potential to jump higher than on a "lesson horse", showing, getting extra saddle time, etc. not to mention the relationship) I'm wondering if my money may not be better spent in taking more than one lesson a week. With two + lessons a week I would likely make one of those a dressage lesson. I also have hope that I may be able to catch-ride a bit once I get back into riding shape. Any comments and ideas are welcome but I guess my question is this: Is more saddle time better than more time taking lessons?
    Jen



  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr. 26, 2006
    Location
    Madison, Wisconsin
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    4,524

    Default

    I would start by taking as many lessons as you can afford. Then you can decide how it's suiting you. It's easier to lesson and then decide to lease, then to lease and then decide that you want more lessons, or that the lease horse you've locked yourself into isn't working out.

    So I'd choose lessons first, then leasing in a few months if you decide you want it.
    Quote Originally Posted by tidy rabbit View Post
    Oh, well, clearly you're not thoroughly indoctrinated to COTH yet, because finger pointing and drawing conclusions are the cornerstones of this great online community.



  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar. 24, 2010
    Location
    Tucson
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    7,158

    Default

    What financial responsibilities do you not want in a purchase that you think you avoid in a lease? Every lease I've ever known still includes responsibility for vet bills, shoeing, etc., so I think you're fooling yourself if you think the overall financial responsibility isn't there. Now, it does mean you aren't responsible for a horse the rest of its life, so if you're worried you'd buy a horse and it would go lame, or turn out to be a wrong fit, and you'd be stuck with its expenses and unable to afford to ride, I can understand that.

    I think a lease is great if you don't want to make a commitment to owning a horse yet. However, to me, your situation sounds like you'd be better off with more lessons instead of a lease.

    (I say this as someone who would actually much prefer a lease - I enjoy having a consistent relationship with one horse and being able to build and make progress together. That's very important to me, personally.)
    My horse is a dressage diva so I don't have to be.

    Quote Originally Posted by katarine
    If you have a fat gay horse that likes Parelli, you're really screwed



  4. #4
    Join Date
    May. 15, 2004
    Posts
    282

    Default

    I agree with the others--(because I've been there too). Since you've had such a long break in riding, I would suggest finding a barn that has several good lesson horses and take a lesson twice a week if you can afford it. Ride different horses and get your "horse legs" back. You may then discover that you really like a particular lesson horse that may also be available for lease. Then you have the benefit of having gotten to know the horse and feel much more comfortable committing the time and money into leasing said horse. I did this with a lesson horse (after a long break from riding) and ended up buying him!!

    Also, not all leasing situations require you to pay other expenses for the horse (such as vet bills, shoes, etc.), especially if the barn owns the horse. For example, I board my horse at a lesson barn and am looking for someone to part lease her. I'm only looking for partial payment towards my board (there is a requirement of one lesson a week, as well).

    Hope this helps! Good luck finding the right situation!



  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan. 4, 2005
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    12

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by netg View Post
    Now, it does mean you aren't responsible for a horse the rest of its life, so if you're worried you'd buy a horse and it would go lame, or turn out to be a wrong fit, and you'd be stuck with its expenses and unable to afford to ride, I can understand that.
    That is exactly what I'm worried about financially. I feel comfortable with the short term commitment a lease would offer.
    Jen



  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct. 31, 2009
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    USEA-Area 3/USHJA-Zone 4/USDF-Region 3
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by ExJumper View Post
    I would start by taking as many lessons as you can afford. Then you can decide how it's suiting you. It's easier to lesson and then decide to lease, then to lease and then decide that you want more lessons, or that the lease horse you've locked yourself into isn't working out.

    So I'd choose lessons first, then leasing in a few months if you decide you want it.
    This is exactly how I did it

    Whats great about taking lessons first is you can try out trainers and horses without a long-term commitment. You also get to build correct muscle memory!

    You will progress really quickly, so the horse that would be appropriate to lease now would be too easy in a few months, and the one that will be appropriate in time won't be at first.
    Leadline is a legitimate reason to have children.



  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb. 3, 2000
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    Nokesville, VA
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    I agree with starting off by getting as many lessons as you can.
    Janet

    chief feeder and mucker for Music, Spy, Belle and Tiara. Someone else is now feeding and mucking for Chief and Brain (both foxhunting now).



  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct. 24, 2010
    Location
    West of Atlanta
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    232

    Default

    Another vote for taking lessons first, because that truly give you the most flexibility, and the least amount of commitment. That way you are not "stuck" at a barn that's not a good match for you. It also will allow you to develop some friendships at the barn, and get some information about a horse / or a trainer/instructor.



  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun. 12, 2007
    Location
    CT
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    6,532

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    Start with lessons. Ability wise, you may outgrow a horse fast in the first year or so as you get back up to speed. It's better to have the flexibility to be able to ride different horses, see what you like and what you don't at this point in your skill level and life, then think about a commitment.



  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov. 11, 2008
    Posts
    363

    Default

    I'm in somewhat the same situation as you (minus the previous horse owning and previous riding part). I can't afford a horse at this point. I try to take two lessons a week, when the weather allows. Our trainer also allows people to pay a smaller fee to come and hack outside a lesson. That has worked out really well for me.



  11. #11
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    Jan. 4, 2005
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    Default

    Thanks for the replies everybody. Lessons it will be. It's going to be really strange to not have my own, and even more so to have to start over and relearn everything but I've been looking forward to it since I gave it up. Now it's just the fun part of finding the right barn/instructor when I get there. First lessons make me more nervous than first dates!
    Jen



  12. #12
    Join Date
    Nov. 4, 2010
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    153

    Default

    I'm in the same boat as you! I started riding again after a 15 year break three months ago. I too considered leasing, but it's best to take lessons at this point. As others have said, you need to get back in shape, and you won't yet be up to riding a horse that met your previous skill level, but you will be soon. Hang in there and ride as many different horses as you can. Good luck and have fun!



  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jan. 3, 2010
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    921

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    I started again a little about a year and a half ago after a 12 year break. I live in Boston and it was very hard to find a barn with quality lesson horses. I eventually did, but I have to drive an hour.

    I ended up buying my own horse last summer, but still travel to take lessons because I bought a 2 year old that I'm sending for training this spring (Yep. I'm crazy). I just didn't want to deal with the nutbaggery that can go with leasing. I got the great grandson of a pony I fell in love with when I was 11.

    Start with the lessons and your heart will take you the rest of the way once yo get your legs back.
    ==================
    Somehow my inner ten year old seems to have stolen my chequebook!

    http://reriderandpony.blogspot.com/



  14. #14
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    Feb. 3, 2000
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    Nokesville, VA
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    Quote Originally Posted by badthingy View Post
    Thanks for the replies everybody. Lessons it will be. It's going to be really strange to not have my own, and even more so to have to start over and relearn everything but I've been looking forward to it since I gave it up. Now it's just the fun part of finding the right barn/instructor when I get there. First lessons make me more nervous than first dates!
    Think of it as a way to get rid of your old bad habits before they re-establish themselves.
    Janet

    chief feeder and mucker for Music, Spy, Belle and Tiara. Someone else is now feeding and mucking for Chief and Brain (both foxhunting now).



  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jun. 3, 2010
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    370

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    Quote Originally Posted by Janet View Post
    Think of it as a way to get rid of your old bad habits before they re-establish themselves.
    I like this.

    It seems you've set your mind on lessons first, and I totally agree! Maybe you can work out a deal with your new trainer where you could come out and hack one or two days a week in exchange for maybe helping some of the younger kids tack up their lessons? That would give you the extra time in the saddle to get those muscles back in shape, and wouldnt take up too much of your time if you did it on lesson days or hack days.



  16. #16
    Join Date
    Jan. 4, 2011
    Location
    South Florida
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    101

    Default

    I was able to find a half lease where the owner only came out once a week on a good week and it went really well for me I was able to hack all the time (the horse needed to get out 5 or six times a week to be sane and loose) and get my legs back so much quicker with more saddle time. But our barn is pretty relaxed and we were allowed to jump outside of lessons so I was paying a lot less to lease and I had more experience than the owner so she loved that when she came out to ride her horse was going better than it used to. This was a very unique situation though and it worked out well as we are two adults trying to make time for riding after work. However I still bought an OTTB after about 6 months and am now looking for another one while he is on stall rest due to an unfortunate injury.



  17. #17
    Join Date
    Jun. 17, 2001
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    down the road from bar.ka
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    33,722

    Default

    OP, try to take lessons from different trainers too. That will let you explore the various options, evalute the trainer and their program and start to get to know just about everybody in those barns. Amazing what you can learn with ears and eyes open and mouth shut.

    Go watch a show too, see how trainers deal with a little pressure and treat both client and horse.

    There is something called a "school lease" that is a flat fee for a predetermined number of exclusive days on a specific horse usually owned by the trainer. Most of these are 3 days a week, typically 2 lessons and a hack day-but they can vary as defined in the written contract. Usually 30 days notice to terminate by either side so not particularly restrictive if you need out.

    I see more and more of these as the cost of maintaining a dependable schoolie skyrockets along with overhead to operate the program.
    When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

    The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.



  18. #18
    Join Date
    Jun. 29, 2004
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    10,987

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    Quote Originally Posted by badthingy View Post
    Thanks for the replies everybody. Lessons it will be. It's going to be really strange to not have my own, and even more so to have to start over and relearn everything but I've been looking forward to it since I gave it up. Now it's just the fun part of finding the right barn/instructor when I get there. First lessons make me more nervous than first dates!
    You will probably surprise yourself and not really have to relearn everything, especially if you're able to lesson on a consistent basis. I agree with everyone else, start out with lessons and work your way into a lease or partial lease once you've settled in with the instructor and barn you decide on. I did the same after a 24 year break from riding and have had several successful "free leases" where I only paid a part of board and farrier expenses on a monthly basis, not even a contract involved.



  19. #19
    Join Date
    Aug. 12, 2010
    Location
    Westford, Massachusetts
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    I started riding again in August after a 30 year break. I do not want to buy a horse for the same reason as the OP, I am not comfortable with a long term financial obligation right now...at my age and my spouse's age, health problems are not unlikely.

    I took 4-5 lessons before picking up a half lease. Full time job and young child mean I have need a more flexible schedule than multiple lessons as week would allow. I take one lesson a week and can otherwise ride when it's most convenient for me and not have to worry about getting onto the instructor's schedule. Bonus is that the horse is privately owned, not a school horse or the trainer's horse, so if the owner is out of town, sick or otherwise unable to ride, she generously offers me extra rides beyond the three a week I'm paying for. There have been a number of weeks where I've been able to ride nearly every day, that would cost a fortune paying for lessons or paying for hacks.

    Horse is a good guy and safe for someone coming back after so long. He maxes out at about 2'9", but since I won't be doing more than that for quite a while, if ever, he's a good fit for the forseeable future. OP is much younger and has not taken so long a break, so outgrowing the horse would be more of a concern...if you lease, I'd stick with 3 or 6 months commitments if you can get them, so you can "trade up" if you need to. Most leases offer an "out" with 30 days notice, but I'd only want to use that in a real emergency, not because I wanted a different horse.



  20. #20
    Join Date
    Jan. 30, 2008
    Location
    Germany
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    I've been in this situation twice. The first time I chose lessons, the second time I chose a half-lease.

    While I agree that lessons are the best way to shop for a new barn and trainer, I think that a suitable half-lease will get you back into shape quicker than two lessons per week.

    The first time I got back into riding, I took two lessons per week. Even after four months of riding plus excercise at home, I still was not in "riding shape." It got to the point where I felt like I was wasting my lesson $$ (and the instructor's time). I don't have a lot of natural riding ability, so the best way for me to learn is constant repetition and sometimes I really wanted an opportunity to practice something before my next lesson. Even now, with my own horse, if I need to take a month off for work, I don't want a lesson the first week back - I want to do basic WTC for 45 minutes a day for five days or so before attempting anything else.

    Another issue that I had with lessons, was that I looked forward to them, and when they didn't go well, I took it pretty hard. With the half-lease, if you have a difficult lesson or trouble "getting" an exercise, you can go out over the next few days and work through the issue on your own before arriving at the next lesson ready to move on.



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