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Asking the Free Leaser to Help Out with Chores

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  • Asking the Free Leaser to Help Out with Chores

    For the last 2 years we have given a very nice college student a free lease on one of our horses. She is the nicest person you could ever have around. We pay for lessons and shows. She has done a great job with the horse. Since she doesn't have any money I've also given her old britches, old boots, let her use my helmet, show jacket, show shirt, etc.

    (and its nice to have someone to go to the occasional show with, even though that hasn't worked out for me to go all friggin' year).

    For a while now I have been feeling resentful at times that I do all the chores and farm work, and, since time & energy is limited, that means I usually don't ride. She shows up and rides and then leaves.

    Last summer I asked her to learn how to drive the mini tractor and start raking the ring. This was a step toward making the chores more fair, and preventing my "Why do I have to do all the work and she just rides" resentment. She said she would learn to do the ring raking, but never did.

    On one hand I feel guilty about being resentful and asking her to do more chores, because it has been really nice to have a friend to ride with on occasion, and you couldn't find someone nicer than her to have at your farm. (and she has done a nice job with the horse).

    But I have to admit I'm getting too resentful at being the one who does all the chores <and never rides>, so I've basically decided that its time for me to ask her to do some stuff.

    We pay her for horse sitting when we go away, and in hindsight, we probably shouldn't pay her for that. I also pay her to ride my older horse a couple of times a week - its important that he stays in work to keep fit. In hindsight I should have asked her to do that in return for the free lease/lessons/shows. Everything is clear in hindsight, right?


  • #2
    Generally a free leaser pays all of the horse's expenses as if it were there own so there would be no more reason for them to do chores than any other boarder who was paying full board. I am guessing that is not your arrangement, is that correct?
    McDowell Racing Stables

    Home Away From Home


    • Original Poster

      She doesn't pay any expenses. I'm using the term "Free Lease" but maybe there is a better term for it. (FWIW I plan to ask her to pay for the horse's shoes once she finishes school and gets a job).


      • #4
        If she is as nice as you say, she should see the lack of balance in your arrangement. I bet she does see it but does not want to change what is really an amazing arrangement. I would feel exactly like you do, but then I would think it was my fault for not speaking up sooner. There is nothing to say you can't change the terms of the arrangement either. She has much more to lose really... Good luck!


        • Original Poster

          Thanks FalseImpression.

          For the first year or so it wasn't an issue because I was just so thrilled to find someone to work with the horse who was:

          1) competent
          2) responsible
          3) nice person

          This combination is VERY difficult to find. Almost impossible, I'd say.


          • #6
            Originally posted by FalseImpression View Post
            If she is as nice as you say, she should see the lack of balance in your arrangement. I bet she does see it but does not want to change what is really an amazing arrangement. I would feel exactly like you do, but then I would think it was my fault for not speaking up sooner. There is nothing to say you can't change the terms of the arrangement either. She has much more to lose really... Good luck!
            The only way I could see this being a problem is if she's a really good rider and the horse she's riding for you is green and in her mind she's training the horse for you for free because he's nice and she's enjoying it and she likes you. In that case, she might think the arrangement you have going on right now is fair.


            • #7
              If you guys have a good relationship, sit down and tell her the truth-- you love her, she's doing an awesome job, but you feel like you take the brunt of the work and you'd like her to share. You have money and no time. She has time and no money so you'd like her to help with chores to even things out. Then work out a VERY SPECIFIC arrangement that you both think is fair (i.e. she drags the ring on Mondays, rides your TB for free on Tuesdays, and mows the last Sunday or every month-- or whatever). Put it in writing, put a checklist up in the barn, and let her/you check off the chores as you go. Give her positive reinforcement and THANK HER for being so responsible/ keeping to your agreement when she does.
              "The Son Dee Times" "Sustained" "Somerset" "Franklin Square"


              • #8
                Hmm...I would really only be happy with that arrangement if I were planning on sellling the horse and needed someone to get him in shape.

                If I were you, I would either ask her to contribute around the barn, or ask her to pay for his expenses. My free leasee pays my horses board, farrier, vet, insurance as well as for lessons and showing.
                Charlie Brown (1994 bay TB X gelding)
                White Star (2004 grey TB gelding)

                Mystical Moment, 1977-2010.


                • #9
                  It seems pretty simple, really. Pay her to do chores instead of riding your old horse - get some time freed up and ride. If she says no, perhaps there is another party that could do chores for pay to free up enough time to ride.

                  If you want to ride your other horse, offer her pay for doing chores to free up your time or have a frank conversation and renegotiate.

                  Even if she is "training" the horse for "free" in her mind, arrangements can change. Be kind, and fair - to YOURSELF, not just your friend. Just make sure what you want and stick to it.
                  Horses should be trained in such a way that they not only love their riders, but look forward to the time they are with them.
                  ~ Xenophon, 350 B.C.


                  • #10
                    So, if I've read your OP right, she gets to ride your horse, and you do all the work AND pay for everything, *including* lessons and shows? And you've supplied her with gear?

                    If that's the case than she has gotten a HELLUVA deal, and you are a very very nice person.

                    The least she can do, if she really is cash-strapped, is to help out with chores. If her finances are more stable it's time for her to start paying for some things. If the horse is wearing shoes because he's being worked and would be barefoot otherwise, that's a good place to start. Having her pay for her own lessons and entry fees would be a good step.

                    Do have a real heart to heart with her though, explain just why you've given her so much up until now, and why it's time she chipped in. She may be very nice, but either she's young and clueless about how 'paying back any way you can' works, or she's got a bit of User in her genetic makeup.


                    • #11
                      It seems to me that it would be reasonable for you to ask that some chores be performed as part of this "free lease." Usually free leases include that the person leasing the horse pay for some or all of its expenses. However, I think that since you have had this very generous arrangement with this person for some time, I think it could be difficult to change your arrangement. This student may have gotten used to your previous arrangement and might be resentful when you change it. I think you should be prepared for the possibility that this person might lose interest in the lease if it comes with any strings or expenses.

                      Another thing to consider...if this person is a good enough rider and is putting valuable training and experience into the horse, then another way to look at it is that you are getting free training for your horse without having to pay for a rider or a trainer. It just all depends on the quality and training of the horse, and how good of a rider this person is. If the horse was green or inexperienced and the rider's work has added value to him, then the current arrangement might be perfectly fair. (There are posters on this board all the time looking to "free lease" a green or inexperienced horse to someone who will put free training on it during the "lease" which isn't a realistic expectation.) In some cases, people also offer very generous lease situations in exchange for retaining a lot of control over the horse.

                      Honestly, I think it is going to be hard for you to successfully change your arrangement with this person. You have already set a value on the lease, and a value on her time and skills, and it is going to be hard to change that without altering the relationship. Nonetheless, it is perfectly reasonable for you to decide that it is no longer worth your while to provide a free horse complete with free lessons and free shows without getting much in return.


                      • #12
                        Gah, I just don't understand the guilt or ambivalence you are feeling about requiring chores in exchange for free riding, showing, riding clothes, etc. You are not asking for anything even remotely unreasonable.
                        So forgive if this sounds blunt, but it's just so simple:
                        Define the arrangement you want, tell her the new arrangement, let her choose if she wants to continue under those terms, and then enforce it. None of this needs to be confrontational or angry. You don't have to justify or apologize, (just as she doesn't have to apologize for not freely offering the help you've secretly wanted her to do.) OR, decide that in the end the current arrangement is ok--but then you have to reject the feelings of resentment. You kinda lose the right to feel put-upon because you've made the choice.

                        It's natural to not want conflict and to even be nervous about these types of conversations. I seriously recommend practicing the conversation with a friend, who will "play" the role of the girl. It feels silly at first but it really does help. And rest assured the actual conversation almost always goes better than we think it will.


                        • #13
                          A "free lease" doesn't really mean free, usually. It means the leasor takes over the expenses of the horse, including boarding costs. The reason it's called "Free" is usually the owner of the horse does not receive additional money above and beyond the expenses of the horse. So ... basically what you have is a very happy person who gets all the fun of a horse with no responsibility, who not only hasn't offered to help but hasn't done the one job you DID ask her to do for you. To me, that negates both the "nice" and "responsible" parts of your description of her.

                          Usually, also, leases have a time period, six months, a year, whatever, and are revisited and re-signed every year. It's January, so it's a good time to revisit it. Since you won't be hurt financially if she chooses to leave the arrangement, I'd just sit down and have a nice discussion with her. If it were me, I'd start by saying all the good things about the arrangement - that she's good with the horse, and you'd like to continue having her work with him, however you are making some changes to the lease arrangement. Do not apologize for the changes - taking care of the horse is as important as riding it, and something that all kids should learn from the start! I'd simply explain that to continue leasing him she has two options: 1) financially cover his costs, including his feed, shoes, lessons, show costs, etc. AND a fair amount to cover your labor; or 2) Work off his "board" by doing chores around the farm when she comes out. I'd personally have a list of chores ready, the time it takes to do them, and what they are worth and let her have some input on what she can and can't do. If she typically comes out 4x a week in the evening, for example, I'd tell her the nights she comes out she is responsible for cleaning the stalls, bringing in, and feeding them their evening feed & water, for example. Whatever it is that will free up time for you to ride as well.

                          I'd continue to pay for horse sitting when you travel, since the goal is to free up regular time for you and not to let her bank those hours or only help you out once in a while.
                          If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude.
                          ~ Maya Angelou


                          • #14
                            I've been that free leaser, except it was always with the requirement of barn chores. When the HO/BO wanted to tweak our agreement, I was more than amenable and your leaser will likely be the same. As FI stated above, she has a lot to lose! BO/HO and I figured chores based on an ~$10/hr rate and since she charged $250 for board, I worked a minimum of 25 hours/month. I covered shoes, vet, chiro, shows, gas for trailering, lessons, etc. When BO and I went halfsies on a rescue pony, I upped my minimum labor by half of another board bill (12.5 hours/month). I also covered all farm sitting regardless of holidays or inconvenience to me and often contributed ($ and/or labor) to farm improvements. This system worked fine for 4 or 5 years.
                            Flip a coin. It's not what side lands that matters, but what side you were hoping for when the coin was still in the air.

                            You call it boxed wine. I call it carboardeaux.


                            • #15
                              As someone who has a similar (although slightly less cushy) agreement as the girl in question, I think you should just bite the bullet and have a conversation with her. Don't approach it defensively though -- you're getting a lot of advice about how this girl is freeloading, but that's not how you used to think of it, and so try not to approach her that way. Just be friends with her - as you already are.

                              I have an agreement with the owner of the mare I ride that she pays all the bills and I ride. The horse hadn't been ridden in years, and she's a bit of a difficult ride, so it works out really well for both of us...her horse gets ridden by a competent rider, and remains, always, her horse -- I know at at any time she could change the deal, change the terms. I wouldn't take the least offense to it. As far as I'm concerned, every day I get to ride is a privilege. I also know that she's getting a good deal -- there's no question that the horse has improved -- so I don't feel like a freeloader.

                              That said, I'm always more than happy to help out with anything that doesn't cost money. I literally can't pay farrier bills, but I'm happy to pick up extra chores anytime she asks. But she has to ask -- not because I'm lazy, but because if she doesn't ask, I'll never know she wants me to do it.

                              All that said, if she were to change the terms, I'm free to reject those, too. If you ask this girl to pick up a bunch of time consuming chores around the barn and she doesn't want to, that's her choice. But then, maybe you can find someone else who's willing to take that deal. You won't until you ask.

                              Just don't go in assuming it's going to be a fight. Probably she'll say "of course! no problem at all!"


                              • #16
                                I guess I'm rather surprised that she hasn't already offered to help. Maybe she isn't quite aware of all that you do?

                                Make her aware. Ask her how she might be willing to help or ask her for what you need. You've done a lot already. A lot of kids don't realize what goes into keeping a farm going if they were only exposed to lessons or leasing.

                                Give her the opportunity. Kindly. Don't be resentful of things not asked and not denied. She may not even realize all of that work is going into it.

                                Talk to her.
                                A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

                                Might be a reason, never an excuse...


                                • #17
                                  I say just ask.

                                  Worse thing that happens is she says that she does not have time to do chores and ride and then you can decide where you want to go from there.
                                  Last edited by trubandloki; Jan. 16, 2013, 03:48 PM. Reason: bad typing


                                  • #18
                                    She probably has no idea what having horses at home entails. I'm an adult and I thought I knew-- the first time I horse sat-- it was a rude awakening as to JUST how much work. And that's for a place with no ring to maintain! You can't be resentful that she's not reading your mind, but there's nothing wrong with your desire to ask her to chip in and help. Open the dialog.
                                    "The Son Dee Times" "Sustained" "Somerset" "Franklin Square"


                                    • #19
                                      Well, I am in almost the exact same position. When my 3year old was ready to be started I gave the opportunity to one of my closest friends as she is very responsible, good rider and was horseless due to the retirement of her old guy. She too was not in a position financially to take on another riding horse as she still has to care for her now retired horse.

                                      I too paid for all show fees, all the care related to my horse (feed, farrier, vet, etc), and weekly lessons. At first I saw it as "free" training getting him ready for sale. It was great as it was less expensive for me to do it this way versus sending him to a trainer, I still got control over him by keeping at home versus sending him off and I had my friend to ride with, go to lessons with and go to shows with.

                                      However, they have now had a super successful career over the last 3 years (prepping for 3rd level now), winning many high point awards, HOY awards, etc. Frankly the have done better than I have riding another one of my homebreds (we compete at the same level). Due to ths success I have been reluctant to actually offer him for sale.

                                      I too get very resentful at times paying all the bills and her basking in all their success (especially when she beats me!)...but I get some happiness as he is a horse I bred. However, my case is slightly different as I get to use their success to market my breeding program so the resentfulness is short lived.

                                      Over the years I have slowly changed the parameters...for example I now only pay for rated shows and she pays for going to schooling shows if she wants. She now pays for any coaching she gets from our instructor at horse shows. She also helps me out around my place when I ask (feeding the horses, dragging arena, etc.). I asked for these things slowly so it did not seem like huge changes. And I always approached it as "my finances are tighter than before....so if you want to do schooling shows then....".

                                      In the end I so enjoy having my friend to do all my horsie stuff with that I am happy. I want to see them achieve their Bronze Medal together but then we will have to sit down and discuss his potential sale (that is why I breed after all!). I will be more than happy to sell him to her for a very good deal, on payments, etc. But I know the day is coming and I am not looking forward to it!

                                      I feel your pain!
                                      Read about my time at the Hannoveraner Verband Breeders Courses:


                                      • #20
                                        I was in a similar situation when I boarded my mare for free on a friends farm with the understanding I would ride her 4yo. I ended up riding her horse more than mine, but was grateful for the arrangement. Until she gave me 24 hours notice to find other boarding arrangements because she had "started to feel like the help" since I didn't do farm work. I WISH she had just talked with me about how she was feeling. Bring it up with her before it ruins your friendship.
                                        "No hour of life is wasted that is spent in the saddle" - Winston Churchill

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