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Free Lease Etiquette

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  • Free Lease Etiquette

    I am an experienced horse person and I have a very nice large pony I am trying to free lease. That being said, I do not have much experience with the buying/selling/leasing advertising part of things. I do have trainers who I am looking to for some guidance but I wanted some other opinions.

    I've advertised my pony on several facebook groups and have received an overwhelming amount of responses. I am a full time law student and also bartend on the side, so my free time and availability to deal with advertising is a bit limited. I love this pony; I'm 24 and I've had him since I was 11 so my sole concern is making sure the pony gets the best home with the best match possible. I do my best to make this extremely clear to everyone. My goal is not to let him go to the first person that comes along.

    I'm having problems with people not understanding that it doesn't really matter when they come to see him-- I will continue to show him to people until I think I've found the perfect match and people that agree to my lease terms. I tell people this-- I know you may be driving 3 hours to come see him, but I can't guarantee I'll lease him to you just because you want him and you got here before some else. Everyone wants free

    I receive a lot of message from moms saying "Oh Fluffy would be just PERFECT for my daughter and we would like to come see him in two hours so we have first dibs!!" Then I tell them, well, that's all great and wonderful but I can't guarantee you anything until I see the kid on the pony. Then I get the whole "Oh my daughter will be so heartbroken if someone else takes him before we can see him etc etc...." Hence, I've been telling pony moms I will not be arranging any sort of trial unless I can speak with a trainer and a trainer is present for the trial.

    Does anyone have any experience with this sort of situation? How do you handle this? I've decided I am basically playing matchmaker because I'm not really getting anything out of a free lease so I don't feel like I owe anyone anything. Most of the people inquiring are people I do not have any sort of relationship with. I am giving preference to local trainers I know and trust, but I think that is to be expected.

    I know I don't have any legal obligations to these people because there is no signed contract but I want to handle the situation in the most professional way possible.

  • #2
    Many many horse sales, especially cheap or free leases, are never advertised for just this reason. Like you said, the responses can be overwhelming and it can be incredibly time consuming to sort through all of those messages.

    I would delete the add from the Facebook groups and instead use your time contacting your connections. I would start with shooting a text to the people I still communicate with regularly but a private Facebook post may reach some lost acquaintances. Professionals looking for this type of pony aren't on Facebook, they put their feelers out with their connections as well. Maybe your trainer from high school has a friend who asked her to let her know if she hears of anything, etc.

    Comment


    • #3
      It sounds like you are in the drivers seat here.

      Feel free to be clear and direct with people. Also feel free to anger and eliminate those that are too pushy and impossible to deal with. I say this because its a *lease* not a sale. You will be dealing with these folks for a while. If they are pushy and don't listen to you now you will have trouble communicating later.

      I think it's fair to say you want to hear from the trainer before the potential leasers visit if you don't want him just going into a muddy back yard.

      Comment


      • #4
        To echo OnDeck, I would pull the ads and just go directly to trainers you trust (whether or not you have a personal relationship with them), shoot them a couple of videos, and ask if they had anyone in their barn for it. A free lease is a great way for a trainer to transition a student from being a lesson student to a horse-owner, so you may end up with someone who isn't even actively looking.

        Comment


        • #5
          I have personal experience with the level of nonsense you are dealing with. The word FREE seems to draw all levels of crazy. I recommend you pull the ad. As others have indicated, best to use your network of trainers.

          Comment


          • #6
            You realize that the FB and CL people will expect YOU to haul the horse to their place at no charge and be furious if you say it’s nor included as part of the free deal? Right?

            Try talking him up at all the local barns and that plain old paper ad on the tack/feed store bulletin board still works to reach those who actually have horses. And a clue.
            When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

            The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.

            Comment


            • #7
              If you are going to leave ads/posts up, I would add something that makes clear that the best match will be given priority. It is not surprising that people are trying to be first in line to try the pony, because it is not uncommon for sellers to use the order of trying them as the order of priority and give someone a couple days to give them an answer (and of course some use the first to show up with a check, but higher dollar sales typically there is a process). So, I would just make clear that you are not operating as first come, first served. And, if at all possible, I would work through your trainers to find the right fit with a program they trust.

              Comment


              • #8
                How is your ad worded? Theoretically, how it's worded will steer certain types of people to you.

                "Free lease of wonderful, broke, easy, low-maintenance pony" is going to flood you with droves of people looking for cheap and easy.

                "Looking to find the perfect lease situation for my long-time pony, who is a lovely solid citizen looking for a kid to enjoy. Emphasis will be placed on his future living situation and the match between the rider and the pony to make sure it's a good fit. Trainer or *experienced* parental involvement required, with financial details TBD depending on the situation."

                The latter doesn't even say "free lease" - let that come after you find the right people. You're emphasizing you want to find the right home and match and that you need experienced people involved.

                Whether you have an ad or are working through your own connections (which is the direction I would go first - I'd absolutely want to work with a contact of an acquaintance if possible over a total stranger), I'd make sure you frame this something similar to the latter rather than simply "free lease of awesome pony" because that tends to bring out all sorts of people you won't want to deal with.
                Jennifer Baas
                It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it. (Aristotle)

                Comment


                • #9
                  The best way to determine that the situation with be ideal (or as close as possible) is to deal with pro's who know other pro's. Sure the perfect situation could be out there via a stranger but...
                  If a trainer you know and trust has a trainer friend who is reputable and honest with a safe farm and nice program, it will be easier to feel confident. There is less chance (though not 0%) that the pony will disappear or be passed along to others etc, if the connections are all known to each other.
                  Every Pony Mom thinks that their dd is the second coming of Beezie and that they will provide the best care. They love to use their child's emotions as a ploy. "DD with be DEVASTATED, DESTROYED... if this pony can't be theirs..." You must resist!!!

                  I like Mac123's wording about the right situation being of utmost importance.
                  F O.B
                  Resident racing historian ~~~ Re-riders Clique
                  Founder of the Mighty Thoroughbred Clique

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    At a minimum I would delete the word "free" from your ads. "Free" just really brings out the crazies. Set a modest lease fee. You can always negotiate your fee down to zero for the perfect family.
                    "Facts are meaningless. You can use facts to prove anything
                    that's even remotely true."

                    Homer Simpson

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by NoSuchPerson View Post
                      At a minimum I would delete the word "free" from your ads. "Free" just really brings out the crazies. Set a modest lease fee. You can always negotiate your fee down to zero for the perfect family.
                      Thats a very good idea.
                      When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                      The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.

                      Comment

                      • Original Poster

                        #12
                        Thank you all for the sound advice! I have deleted the post and am weeding out people who I do not know and people who do not have trainers contact me.

                        Another question- What if someone tries him and loves him but I don't think it's a good fit/don't love the way the kid rides? Would you be honest and say, "Sorry, I don't think its the best match for the child and the pony" or say something else/make something up?

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I would leave the ads up personally, and maybe change free out to "care lease". By limiting only to trainers, you might knock out some potential good situations. Like the amateur mom who has horses at home with a competent kid who rides. I know of a few of these types and they would provide an excellent home!

                          Perhaps something like "In search of a care lease for a wonderful pony. (info about pony here). Home will be chosen not on a first come first served basis, but instead on the best home for the pony. Please send inquiries here (create a gmail just for pony if you don't want your personal), only those answering below questions will be responded to. Appointments available on Saturday's only (or whatever day) and preference given to those who provide a video of their child riding.

                          First and last name:
                          Vet:
                          Farrier:
                          Trainer:
                          Barn info (boarding barn or at home):
                          Type of feed:
                          Type of hay:
                          Rider age and experience:
                          Parent experience:
                          References:

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by sassy View Post
                            Thank you all for the sound advice! I have deleted the post and am weeding out people who I do not know and people who do not have trainers contact me.

                            Another question- What if someone tries him and loves him but I don't think it's a good fit/don't love the way the kid rides? Would you be honest and say, "Sorry, I don't think its the best match for the child and the pony" or say something else/make something up?
                            I would be honest and say that it isn't the best fit for the pony. You can say you are looking for a child with a little more experience, or a barn that is closer to you, or honestly whatever the problem is. I wouldn't mention the fit for the child though, as the parent gets to decide what is best for the child and that opens up room for argument.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Definitely delete the ads! I would contact a few trainers (and who I would contact would depend on what you envision is the best situation for your pony. IE - if you're looking for someone to ride Fluffy in the xrails division on the local circuit, don't contract an AA trainer. Explain to trainer what you're looking for in a home. Have an AIR TIGHT contract (I know you mentioned you're in law school - this is a great practice session Be as specific as possible. How many times a week Fluffy can be ridden/jumped. What Fluffy should eat. How many times Fluffy can show. Who can show Fluffy, Etc, etc, etc. Ideally given it's your first time leasing, send Fluffy somewhere you can check on him.

                              As far as loving the rider - that depends. If you're dealing with a trainer you like/trust/respect and trainer thinks it is going to be a good match - I would think seriously about trusting trainer even if maybe it's not your first choice.

                              Also - why free lease vs paid?

                              Finally - mandate that leasor maintains insurance with you as beneficiary.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                I am sure there are situations where people without trainers are competent. But OP doesn’t know them or want to send her Pony away with people she does not know onto private property as opposed to a bigger barn environment with professional oversight. Even that’s no guarantee but it’s more accessible for OP to keep an eye on.

                                Far as how to say no? Don’t think it’s suitable for the Pony. Or just say no, it is your Pony and if you don’t feel comfortable sending it off with somebody, don’t.
                                When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                                The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by Mac123 View Post
                                  How is your ad worded? Theoretically, how it's worded will steer certain types of people to you.

                                  "Free lease of wonderful, broke, easy, low-maintenance pony" is going to flood you with droves of people looking for cheap and easy.

                                  "Looking to find the perfect lease situation for my long-time pony, who is a lovely solid citizen looking for a kid to enjoy. Emphasis will be placed on his future living situation and the match between the rider and the pony to make sure it's a good fit. Trainer or *experienced* parental involvement required, with financial details TBD depending on the situation."

                                  The latter doesn't even say "free lease" - let that come after you find the right people. You're emphasizing you want to find the right home and match and that you need experienced people involved.

                                  Whether you have an ad or are working through your own connections (which is the direction I would go first - I'd absolutely want to work with a contact of an acquaintance if possible over a total stranger), I'd make sure you frame this something similar to the latter rather than simply "free lease of awesome pony" because that tends to bring out all sorts of people you won't want to deal with.
                                  Brilliant!
                                  One touch of nature makes the whole world kin.
                                  William Shakespeare

                                  Comment

                                  • Original Poster

                                    #18
                                    Originally posted by nycjumper View Post
                                    Definitely delete the ads! I would contact a few trainers (and who I would contact would depend on what you envision is the best situation for your pony. IE - if you're looking for someone to ride Fluffy in the xrails division on the local circuit, don't contract an AA trainer. Explain to trainer what you're looking for in a home. Have an AIR TIGHT contract (I know you mentioned you're in law school - this is a great practice session Be as specific as possible. How many times a week Fluffy can be ridden/jumped. What Fluffy should eat. How many times Fluffy can show. Who can show Fluffy, Etc, etc, etc. Ideally given it's your first time leasing, send Fluffy somewhere you can check on him.

                                    As far as loving the rider - that depends. If you're dealing with a trainer you like/trust/respect and trainer thinks it is going to be a good match - I would think seriously about trusting trainer even if maybe it's not your first choice.

                                    Also - why free lease vs paid?

                                    Finally - mandate that leasor maintains insurance with you as beneficiary.
                                    My contract is spells out everything you have mentioned above.

                                    I'm free leasing him because he's 17 and has a bone cyst in each elbow. We didn't pay a lot of money for him and I don't feel like he owes us anything at this point. However, I am learning that a saintly short stirrup/pre children type pony, no prep to the ring and an auto swap is more desirable than I thought. I am kicking myself for not advertising it as a paid lease.

                                    In the past he's been free leased in my trainer's barn so they've dealt with setting everything up, but we don't have a kid for him this year. My only other lease experience is leasing my 3'6 horse out but that is a paid lease where everything has been handled for me. I don't know much about the unrated/local show culture.

                                    My trainers are helping me some, but there's no commission to be had here and their availability is a little limited this time of the year with all sorts of different finals. I know they are busy and don't expect them to take a lot on right now.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Does it make sense to post an ad in the show office of reputable horse show series in your area? At least then you are starting in front of the right crowd, likely to have trainer involvement.
                                      The best sports bras for riders are Anita 5527 and Panache! Size UP in Anita, down in Panache (UK sizing)

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        You can change your mind on whether it's a paid lease or not. You haven't promised him to anyone under a set of terms yet. Sale horses' prices change all the time. If someone has seen a previous ad and asks you why the change, you can always say that you got so much more interest than you were originally anticipated and realized you had undervalued him.

                                        Personally, I'd advertise it (whether formally or through word of mouth) as a paid lease and put a nominal fee on it, perhaps saying that terms are flexible depending on the situation. This will weed out a lot of tire kickers on its own. And as you mentioned, a saintly 2' pony with changes has a ton of value to provide a young rider on the local circuit (But I would very strictly agree on what usage is okay and make sure you're following up on him. At 17, mismanagement can be devastating). Then if you meet the perfect family who perhaps needs/deserves a break, you can always waive the fee and turn it into a free lease.

                                        As far as how to respond....honesty + kindness in whatever variation that takes. You don't necessarily owe anyone an explanation further than "Thanks so much for your interest but I don't think this is the right situation for him." People's emotional reactions are their own responsibility, not yours. If you're being careful with a child's feelings, you can always say "I've had some other inquiries I want to follow up with before I make a final decision, I'll be in touch."

                                        Remember you're searching for a good next fit and are willing to wait until you find the perfect situation. If you are up front with that from the beginning and everyone's expectations are clear that you're not trying to move the pony quickly or to the highest bidder, you will give yourself some leeway on the backend with what you say to people. I would preface conversations with some variation of "I've had Patches for 15 years and this will be the first time he's leased out of my care, so my biggest priority is finding the best fit for him and for me. So I may not have a final decision for you right after you try him out."
                                        Jennifer Baas
                                        It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it. (Aristotle)

                                        Comment

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