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Lease / Part Board Advice Needed

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    Lease / Part Board Advice Needed

    I'm looking for some impartial advice on a situation that just came up. I have a young toddler, work full time and have a spouse that works rotating shift so I've been finding it impossible to make it out to the barn more than once or twice a week. Daycare costs are also taking up a big part of our monthly budget which makes having a part boarder to cover some of the horse expenses a necessity.

    While I was pregnant, I sent my horse out on lease for a year and a half to the student of a reputable trainer I've known for years. Everything went smoothly, horse got amazing care and came back in great shape. He arrived home this past September and I found a part boarder to ride him 3 days a week. Unfortunately, she stopped at the beginning of December due to her schedule and, despite posting ads everywhere I can think of, I haven't had any luck yet finding someone to replace her.

    It's been a huge struggle trying to keep him in work. I try to get out at least once a week but sometimes (especially over the holidays) he's sat 7+ days between rides. My trainer tries to either get on him or put him on the lunge once a week but she's got a young family as well, so she doesn't really have the time either. There's no lesson program (just boarders lessoning on their own horses) and all the other boarders are adults too busy to pick up extra rides.

    Today I got a message out of the blue from the trainer that had him on lease - she has a student looking for a lease and would I be willing to send him back to her barn. Basically, it would be a full lease with the student paying all expenses but I would get to ride him once a week (possibly more as long as it doesn't interfere with the student's lessons/shows). The only issue is that it would mean driving an hour each way to be able to ride.

    The barn I board at is only 15 minutes from my house and I love it there. I've been boarding there for 5 years and consider the barn owner/trainer a good friend - we've got kids the same age and get together outside of the barn fairly regularly. I would feel terrible about moving my horse after she gave me opportunities to ride waiting for my guy to come back off lease. It would likely be possible to continue taking lessons with her a few times a month on another boarder's horse.

    I told the lease trainer I'd like to give it a few more weeks to see if I can find a local part boarder before making a decision. If I can't would it be crazy to consider her offer?

    No the offer makes great sense, especially since you know the horse will be well taken care of in that trainer's program. Honestly if you're barely making it out once a week I think it's for the best.
    ... I have a 14 month old, I get it! Luckily my husband is able to take him to daycare most mornings so I can get a ride in before work.


      Honestly, given how little time you have to ride, I'd make the tradeoff of the extra drive time and take the lease offer, since you know the program. It's very generous that you would still get to ride him, so other than the drive time, it seems like the best of both worlds. Neither you nor the current trainer have time to keep your horse in work, maybe at the end of another lease period things will be different for you schedule-wise, but for now it seems like this solves your problem, and I wouldn't wait too long to decide, because they will have to find something else for the student in need!


        Jump on it. Great situations can be hard to come by. Your relationship with your trainer sounds very healthy. She will understand.


          I would do it. I have a little one myself and sadly ended up selling my mare, as in the dressage world leases are nearly impossible to come by and honestly it made the most sense. The great thing is if you have time you can go ride and if not you do not that week. Without my mare I feel like all the pressure has been removed and it is honestly a relief, as I no longer worry about her working and the financial aspect. I am riding horses here and there and if the drive is over an hour away we sometimes make it a day adventure for us to do things before/after (if on a weekend).


            I agree with the rest. I would strongly consider this situation. It sounds ideal. If you're only riding maybe once a week, the hour-long drive shouldn't be too bad. And the pluses far outweigh the minuses.

            Good luck in making your decision.
            My hopeful road to the 2021 RRP TB Makeover:


              Absolutely you should do it. You know they take great care of him, you don’t have time to keep him in work, and it’s unfortunate that your trainer will lose the board income but she is not able to help you solve the situation due to her own busy schedule. And you get to ride once a week? Win win!


                I have a 10 month old son and sold my horse back in August of 2019. I would have loved to keep him, but we were doing self care on a family member's property and he wasn't a horse that did well sitting for more than a few days at a time. If I had kept him, I would have loved to find a situation like you're describing. I think the hour drive would be worth it to have my horse in full work and not have to worry about the expense of boarding/training and less rides than ideal.

                You can still remain friends with your trainer and get together. I'm sure she understands as well as anyone how difficult having a young family can be. Sounds like you could still lesson with her some too.

                Life is full of lots of seasons and even the hardest decisions are worth considering because they often make life simpler in the long run.

                I found a part least situation on a horse that belongs to an old friend and I couldn't be happier about how it's working out. I miss my horse (he was my heart), but this situation is so much less stressful and I can just enjoy riding and not have to worry about anything when I have the opportunity. Which right now is usually twice a week.


                  The fact that board is stretching your monthly budget thin, and you barely have time to ride even once per week - it's an excellent opportunity and I'd jump on it immediately. Sounds like the perfect solution for your life right now. Nothing's permanent, a lease means you'll get him back at some point, and you need to think about what's best for you and your family in the here and now.


                    Original Poster

                    Thanks so much for all the great feedback! It's hard to think about sending him so far away after spending so many months waiting for him to come home but you're all right, it does make a ton of sense for my current situation. And it's so difficult to justify spending such a huge chunk of my monthly budget on board and other expenses when I'm struggling to make it out regularly. He's a very good boy and behaves himself whether he's ridden every day or only once a week but it's impossible to make any sort of progress on our current schedule and I feel guilty seeing how chubby and out of shape he's gotten over the last two months.


                      It makes great sense from here. An hour's drive once a week is reasonable under the circumstances.
                      Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.

                      Remember the horse does all the work, we just sit there and look pretty.


                        An hour is not “ far away” and you have had a very positive experience leasing him to a student of this trainer in that same barn. No matter how close your current barn is, you are not able to get there and penny pinching to make the board on a horse you never ride doesn’t make sense.

                        You also need to keep in mind if you do end up needing to sell, his best chance at a good life is to stay sharp and in work and you never know with a young family if you might not need to make that decision.

                        When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                        The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.


                          The lease sounds like a great solution for all the reasons posted above. But I would echo the advice to not wait too long. No doubt the other trainer is busy networking to find something for her client. The opportunity may not last long.


                            Send him, like yesterday. You and horse know and are comfortable with the trainer and place. Doing the drive is not an issue compared with the current issues or possible issues from dealing with "new" people.


                              An hour is definitely not far away, especially if the horse thrived in the situation last time.

                              If you send him, you no longer have board expenses and he's being ridden.

                              Take the difference in $$ and go ride once a week. Perhaps twice a month on your horse, twice a month with your friend.


                                Original Poster

                                Just a quick update - the trainer had her student try him yesterday (they happened to be at my barn looking at a large pony for another student) and it went really well.

                                I also randomly had another trainer who's only about 20 minutes from me reach out to see if I would be willing to lease him to one of her students under basically the same circumstances - they pay all expenses and I ride once a week - in exchange for moving him to her barn. I've shown against her students for years and her program has a very good reputation - she and the other trainer actually lease/sell horses to each other's programs regularly.

                                Her rider is coming out to try him this week so I can finalize what I'm going to do with him by this weekend at the latest.


                                  I would say strongly to stick with the trainer you know, both situations being equal.

                                  Maybe the other trainer is amazing and a perfect fit, but you *already* know the first trainer is as well. If the commute is a deciding factor for you then it is what it is, but I would try not to hinge the decision on 40 minutes of car time once a week (yes, even if it's in both directions).