If you don't want to sell, and don't want the wear-and-tear of 5 lessons/week, you could also try posting her on the sporthorse breeders' free lease thread -
I don't know anything about her bloodlines/breed, but a mare with a good performance record may find a home for a few years as a broodmare. While there are risks there, too, you end up with a proven broodmare. It is easier to place an older mare who has had a foal than an older maiden mare & I am thinking ahead to when you graduate - if you can't support her or if she isn't sound enough to show for any reason, then she is already proven capable of that particular second career.
I'm not sure this is a better option than leasing under your trainer's care, but it IS another option to consider.
Best of luck, whatever you decide.
Hidden Echo Farm, Carlisle, PA -- home of JC palomino sire Canadian Kid (1990 - 2013) & AQHA sire Lark's Favorite, son of Rugged Lark.
Just want to be a little devil's advocate here. I half leased my mare to my trainer when I first got her with no ill effects. Like you, I had a longstanding relationship with my trainer and trusted her to take care of my girl in lessons. My mare was ridden 6 days a week, sometimes 2 lessons a day or one lesson and one trail ride. Mostly she got very fit!
Funnily enough, I ended up buying my mare because her old owner had free leased her to my trainer. I got to know my mare in lessons and rides. When owner decided she needed to sell, I was an immediate buyer, and we both knew mare and I already "clicked." I then continued to half lease my girl to my trainer.
Trainer still half and free leases horses to be a part of her school string. Personally I think it's win-win for the trainer and owner. The owner gets their horse trained, cared for and staying fit for free or a huge discount, and the trainer gets good horses for her string.
For some horses, obviously, being a part of a school string wouldn't work. But if your horse has the right disposition, training and soundness, I don't see why not. If you plan on keeping your mare long-term, then not having to pay for he upkeep while you are at school seems great to me. Plus trainer is keeping her fit for you so you can ride normally on your breaks.
If I don't sell her this year, then I will most likely end up keeping her forever and let her happily live out her retirement whenever she is ready. Because of this, I am not super concerned about resale value 4 years down the line. Mostly I want her to be in a situation where she gets the care, attention, and exercise that she needs and deserves.
Didn't carefully read all posts, but:
You said the mare would be used for the show team. What does this mean? Is your trainer involved with IEA (?) or IHSA? In which case, mare would be shown by a LOT of different folks - and, in my experience (videoing IHSA Nationals), in number ofl classes. Or is it several of her good students who don't own their own horses, but show at lower levels?
You do say that she'd be used in 4-5 lessons per week OR one day of showing over a weekend, not 4-5 lessons PLUS a day of showing, as some seemed to have read.
I, too, agree that the leasor should pay insurance - for loss of use, not merely life/accident.
And I, too, find this "They have kindly offered to let me take her back in the summers and over breaks which is very generous of them and would love to be able to have something to ride when I come home." - uh - 'interesting'. If this is a college team, then this is a 'win' for them, since they'd have to keep/maintain her 'off-season'. So I wouldn't get all warm & fuzzy over that :-)
Tough decision - but I'd lean toward others' encouragement to sell. You say she's a 'high-quality show horse' - I'm not sure four years in a lesson program (albeit an 'upscale' one) would do anything positive for her value.
Personally I'd try to sell her first - set a reasonable price and an end date; if you dont get a buyer, use this free lease option as plan B- or plan C if maybe you can find a lease that is a better arrangement. If she sells, "hide" the money to use when you are ready to buy another. While you may think that you want to keep her forever, you may feel differently when she's 12 or 13 and not sound.
We don't get less brave; we get a bigger sense of self-preservation........
If you decide to let your trainer use your mare, get everything in writing! Everything. In. Writing. It doesn't matter how much you trust your trainer, you must get the agreement and all the details in writing. I think we've all seen here on coth too many things happen when there is just an oral agreement.
I think you should sell your horse. As others have pointed out, financially it doesn't make sense to free lease her (I know you don't care about that) but I also think it can be very hard on a horse to be ridden and lessoned on by a wide variety of riders. No matter how nice the barn and how nice the rest of the care would be, it is not a fate I would choose for a horse that had better options. If your horse has some kind of a flaw that makes her unsaleable, than by all means free leasing her as a lesson horse might make sense. But, if she is a nice show horse I think she'd be better off with a new owner.
Also, no matter how wonderful the lease situation seems to be up front, I would urge you not to be naive about leasing. Many people are not as careful with horses they don't own. Many leases that look great up front end up becoming complicated or flat out going bad with a horse caught in the middle.
If you are interested in the leasing option, I'd recommend considering leasing her out at a fair price to an appropriate person, with a contract and insurance, not as a school horse.
I would not even considerate the situation described.
Being in work five days a week is very different from being a lesson horse five days a week. So many different riders with different skill levels lessoning on your horse or multiple riders per horse show (who have to go into the ring without any schooling if this is IHSA) are not going to benefit your horse in any way.
I think it really depends on your horse and what happens in the lessons.
My own personal horse would go nuts having different riders. He is not a horse that tolerates different riding styles and different cues. He would try hard and then get very anxious and lose his mind. My last horse had limited tolerance for riders. He was fine with someone who didn't ask much of him (he was great with my husband) but if he started to feel trapped by a rider's hands, he'd get pretty light in front. Only you know if your horse is flexible enough to take the different riders in stride.
I have a friend who has a horse that would do fine in that situation. She's mellow, she's tolerant and different riders don't upset her. She's a guest horse for the hunt and she takes kids out and brings them back safely. She's worth her weight in gold.
If you want to consider this program, go watch a few of the lessons and see how the horses are treated. Then decide whether your horse could handle it.
If the horses are jumped at every lesson or if the skill level of the riders varies too much, you might consider leasing or selling your horse.
If you do decide to try it, please make sure you have everything in writing and that you think through every contingency before you turn over your horse.
I agree with most of what's being said about looking at all of your options honestly. I rode on my school's team my freshman year, and the horses had a really difficult life. Granted that was the school's fault, but my personal experience is based off of this of course. Not only because of the lessons but the general care wasn't great, either. I did not do the team thing after that year.
I then bought my long-time lease horse and brought her with me at a private barn for my sophomore year. It was awesome, but expensive and time consuming. Junior year I brought her with me again and did not survive. Because I pay for her myself, I had to work 20 hours a week, take my extra classes because my major requires 150 credits (as opposed to 120 to graduate), and still maintain training. It didn't work. Mental breakdown times 2382894.
I ended up advertising her to specific trainers for a full lease. My mare does not do well with multiple people on her, so I knew a lesson program was a no-go. But she's a solid show horse with a decent record, not too much maintenance, safe and sane. I found a lease within 3 emails. So now she is super spoiled at a fabulous barn, great trainer (of my choice), moderate exercise and a contract I can rely on.
So my vote is if you're not 100% comfortable with the lesson program idea, or selling her, go with a lease as others have mentioned. Then you can get your horse back after college and when your life settles down. (Trust me, as a junior right now with my summer internship in the city I am struggling to get it together )
I think this situation depends on a lot of variables:
What kind of person are you? Do you need to go to school and only focus on school, or do you need some sort of outlet your horse could provide?
Are there reasonably priced barns near your school? This is a huge factor!
Are you comfortable with knowing that if you keep your horse, you may have time to ride her and come out and see her, but not be in training for shows and may not show?
This is a decision for you to make. Other people's experiences can provide you with valuable insight, but in the end, the decision has to come from you, not anyone else, to prevent any big regrets down the road.
I will say that in my case, due to some family "stuff" and some shadows of depression, plus my tendency to be fairly hard on myself and a perfectionist, having a horse helped me through some extremely difficult times in high school, and my mom and I decided that it would be beneficial to me mentally to have my horse with me at University. Sortof a way to keep me grounded, and provide me with a place where I knew I could breathe. Without it we both feared a spiral into a dark place. Add to that that my horse is basically a pet, I enjoy riding but I'd enjoy having her just as much even if I didn't ride her and boarded at a smaller farm, etc. Leasing wasn't an option for this particular horse as she had her "people" and was funny about people who weren't "hers." This was another reason why I wouldn't sell her, I didn't know where she'd end up with a personality like that.
Everyone's situation is different, and everyone has their own reasons for their decisions. I hope after carefully weighing all the factors involved in your decision, you come up with a decision that leaves both you and your horse happy.
Whatever you decide, whoever leases her (if that's what happens) really should pay insurance. It's very standard. What happens if she colics? Horses that are leased are almost always insured by the person leasing.
I dunno. There is a huge difference between swapping use of your horse with trainer for her upkeep costs and putting her in the lesson program as a regular 5-6 day a week schoolie with multiple divisions at shows while you go away for months at a time. Novice riders making novice mistakes for years.
I also think you need to rethink you feelings that they are kindly going to "let you use" your own horse on breaks. I know you are close to your trainer as the only other adult besides parents you have had an ongoing relationship with BUT she is not your parent and has her business to support-she won't sacrifice like a parent will when difficult choices crop up, nor should she.
In other words...blind trust is misplaced, even with a contract. Just ask those who had treasured horses leased out to trusted parties and did not get back what they sent out. Or dumped it out back when it got hurt and neglected it. This stuff happens ALL the time.
Another thing some have touched on is young people often assume things will go on as they have been. You may not be able to take that 13 year old lesson horse back and your parents may not be able to help due to unexpected changes in their own circumstances. A quick sell might not be possible to the type home you like.
If you don't want to sell now, see if you cannot find a private lease with one or two others to keep your mare out of the school string. The deal with the trainer does sound pretty good- almost too good to be true for all except the mare.
When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.
If your mare is "high quality" and has a good show record why no just lease her out. Everyone here is saying free lease, free lease her out, but if this horse is that nice you could stand to make money on a lease. What does your trainer currently think she should be priced at? Take 1/3 that value plus lease pays everything including insurance. You get to keep your horse and get a lease fee. Sounds better to have one person ride your horse then god knows how many in a lesson program. After the lease is up you can reassess the situation to see if you want to keep doing it or sell.
I want to be like Barbie because that bitch has everything!
Only you can make the right decision in this situation. I think you have had some great advice. Financially speaking, you would likely do best to sell your mare to a good home now while she is young and successful. Put the money into an account or investment that you set aside for the purchase of your next horse (or a "rainy day)." College is a whole new world for most folks. Also can't predict the future- what sort of degree you will ultimately end up with, what sort of financial situation you will have when you graduate, if you will end up getting an advanced degree etc. I wish you the best of luck with whatever you decide and both you and your mare a very happy future.
i rode at a barn with school horses that worked probably 6 days a week and they were used heavily but they were well taken care of. the thing is that the horses did what they were comfortable in, so they may not be a useful 3ft horse, but they had alot of use in lower fences. maybe they were jumping 2.6ft or less. also they were group lessons, so you didnt jump a whole lot which was good for the horses. alot of these horses thrived and lived to ripe old years and even if they couldnt work, the owners took good care of these horses and it is amazing how long these horses could live working daily.
but with so many riders riding these horses, it could affect their training. most horses i would find would end up being butt carters, but if yours is fully trained you dont need that. the other thing is that this farm was really good at taking bad horses that would end up being put down, and carefully managing them in the school horse program, alot of these horses turned out really nice! i just dont think every person has the talent and program to make school horses turn good.
i think because i dont really want to share my horse with that many people, i would not consider doing this lease. horses can thrive in a lesson program, but i just dont want that for my horse. i probably would sell my mare or find a leasor that would allow you to turn lease into half lease in the summers.
If you keep her and 'free lease' her to your trainer you will know she is getting good care (whatever you write in the contract), she will get ridden under the supervision of a trainer whom you trust, and you will retain not only the right to continue to own your horse but also be able to ride when you get back. The cons would obviously be that your mare may pick up some bad habits undersaddle from the various riders, may get additional wear and tear, etc.
However, remember if you sell her you cannot control where she ends up. While you get to choose the initial buyer, they could easily switch trainers, sell, etc. And some people have very different ideas of what "good" care or "fair" workload might be. Plus you would not have any horse of your own to ride during your breaks. Of course the plus side would be that you would be selling her in her prime ($$) and would not be taking on the risk of a horse during college.
So to me it would be more of a financial decision.