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Leasing: A Cautionary Tale

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  • Leasing: A Cautionary Tale

    My most successful and decorated show hunter returned to my stable this weekend after 11 months on lease. I wish that I could say that the experience was a rousing success – at the very least, that it caused him no harm. Unfortunately, the less-than-professional trainer and her self-serving clients fulfilled all of our worst fears when we lease a horse: that he will be treated like a rental car, used and abused, and then returned a shadow of his former self – both mentally and physically. Oh, they loved him initially. The trainer, who had mismanaged and lamed her own horse now had a winner to ride, and the child moved up several divisions 10 months ahead of schedule. After being over-jumped and under-cared for, however, his performance began to suffer. Despite what I believed to be a thoughtfully written contract, and knowing that he needed veterinary care to comfortably do his job, the trainer and her clients made a conscious, shameful, financial decision not to provide him with that needed relief. According to the trainer, “We know that he requires maintenance, but they don’t want to do it until they decide whether they are keeping him.” To add insult to injury, they proceeded to squeeze in yet one more horse show in December before the lease concluded. He deserved much better than this. What they perpetrated was nothing short of abuse. In the coming weeks, he will get the vet care he needs and the comfort he so richly deserves. According to Alexander Von Humboldt, "Cruelty to animals is one of the most significant vices of a low and ignoble people. Wherever one notices them, they constitute a sign of ignorance and brutality which cannot be painted over even by all the evidence of wealth and luxury." I hope that everyone learns from my mistake, i.e., trusting the wrong people to do the right thing by a wonderful, tolerant and defenseless animal.
    For riders of every discipline and those who simply appreciate the best that a life with horses can offer.

  • #2
    How many times did you check up on him while he was out on lease? How many times did you ask the lessees if he was getting the vet care he needed and they were contractually obligated to provide?

    Did you ask for receipts from the vet who was doing the care? Did you ask for updates in the form of pics/videos?

    If you did all of these things, then you could have pulled this guy away from the stable at the first sign of abuse or neglect.

    Yes, the people sucked...as long as YOU own the horse, he is YOUR responsibility....you can't just walk away from him.

    I hope he recovers to his former self...you've learned the same valuable lesson I learned years ago...contracts aren't generally worth the paper they are printed on....


    • #3
      I hope he recovers. Did you know the trainer ruined her horse when you leased him out? If they don't care about their own horses, they surely won't care about yours...
      Come to the dark side, we have cookies


      • #4
        Please use the proper channels to make sure others don't lease to this person. A good professional should value his/her reputation and conduct his/herself in such a way that bad things can never be said about them.

        I hope the horse fully recovers.

        Here's to a better year for both you and the horse.
        It's 2018. Do you know where your old horse is?

        www.streamhorsetv.com -- website with horse show livestream listings and links.


        • #5
          This is not the first time I have heard this.

          I leased my horse last year, and even got to ride him myself once a week, and I STILL fretted about him all the time over little things. Never again. I am just not that kind of person! I worry too much.

          Good luck getting him back in shape.
          2012 goal: learn to ride like a Barn Rat

          A helmet saved my life.


          • #6
            I would never lease my horse outside of the barn and if I had to I would certainly check up on it and make sure things were going as I wanted.


            • #7
              Unfortunately, it's all too common. However, at my barn, leasing and trials are still very much alive. The trainers and staff take the horse's welfare very seriously. I am very thankful that I had the opportunity to lease a great horse several years ago. This is one of those situations that makes it more difficult for someone needing a lease.
              It's 2018. Do you know where your old horse is?

              www.streamhorsetv.com -- website with horse show livestream listings and links.


              • #8
                Did the lease REQUIRE specific maintence at specific intervals (i.e. horse must have his hocks injected every 6 months) and they failed to comply?

                Were they not in their rights to show right up until the lease ended?

                I guess I am VERY sympethetic that your horse came bakc in poor shape, but wondering whether the lease agreement was specific and had teeth such that you have legal grounds to go after them.
                "The Son Dee Times" "Sustained" "Somerset" "Franklin Square"


                • #9
                  I'm very sorry this happened to you, OP.

                  I'm sure people can monday morning quarterback this to death for you. It won't sound good.

                  My horse is currently leased. I never planned to do this. It was a lot of time spent with the trainer that convinced me to do the deal. I get pictures, videos and great reports. And still, that's not quite enough to make me happy. As his owner, I'm the buck stopper, so I have to go see him in person. That involves flying across the country.

                  I think that even the best written agreements are a poor substitute for a long term relationship with the pro, a chance to see the rider on the horse and around him on the ground, and your own personal eyeballs (and/or butt) laid on the horse from time-to-time.

                  I have never been part of a lease with a big fee. But I suspect that these go two ways. Either a large fee gets paid by the lessee with the two pros knowing each other and how valuable the horse is. Or the owner pays a huge fee and believes that entitles him to do whatever he'd like with the rental car....horse. The trainer who says, "Well, we both know that horse needs X care but my client won't do it," isn't working for you At All. IMO, that's part of the lessee-trainer's obligation.
                  The armchair saddler
                  Politically Pro-Cat


                  • #10
                    4hunters I am sad to hear about your horse. I myself just broke a lease on my horse 6 months into a 12 month lease. She was not being fed and there was nothing stated in the lease that the leasers were responsible for ensuring the horse get fed well at the stable she was at. It became apparent a few months into the lease that the horse was losing weight. I tried to work with the leasers in correcting this situation. Turns out she was not being fed at shows so this was fixed but I was pretty upset about this but do know some trainers do this rather than work out the issues. Then she gained weight while on the road for three weeks because the leaser was feeding her herself. After a return home she dropped pounds yet again.....I again tried to work with the leaser and tried to work out a good feeding program. Leaser agreed but barn did not followthru. It was obvious leaser was not being strong enough in looking out for the horse's interests so I intervened and dealt directly with the BO/trainer. I was confident things would be corrected. A few weeks later the mare showed up at a show in terrible condition and I ended up losing it and telling the trainer the situation had to be corrected in one month or I would have to take action. I inspected the horse a few weeks later and there was a tiny bit of improvement but not nearly enough so I went and got the horse and now two months later she has regained most of the approx. 400lbs she lost. It was a terrible experience for the horse who was a shadow of her former self. No horse of mine will ever be leased without me being directly involved in the care of the horse. Fortunately this horse is recovering physically and mentally but if I had not been watching the situation I think the horse might have been ruined. People simply will not go nose to nose to protect a horse that is not their's, they are robots that leave too much in the hands of their trainer and they do not have to suffer the consquences of lack of care provided to the animal. People are cruel, greedy and plain stupid. Too many professionals try to make money on the board end of things. Leasing is not a very good option for those that own a show horse unless they happen to luck into caring people in a truely professionally run barn where pride is taken in providing good care and presenting horses that speak well for the stable. Thin horses in the show ring does not get anyone good clients and clients that buy into such an operation are just as much to blame. Trying to be a fair leasee does not count for much. Lesson learned is to write in the lease the level of care and condition that needs to be maintained and when that doesn't happen end the lease.


                    • #11
                      I was lucky when I leased my first horse out twice. He went to families who rode with my trainer, one of which boarded him at her farm. Both times, I was out of state, relying on the eye of my trainer.

                      He got chiropractic care I could not afford, one family switched to my farrier to keep him consistent. The biggest problem I ran into was the kid who banged his tail just above the point of his hocks. After reading so many leasing horror stories, I figured I was either very lucky, or happened to know people who are as good as their word/signature on the contract. Now I am utterly paranoid of the prospect of having to lease out again.
                      Leap, and the net will appear


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by pony4me View Post
                        Please use the proper channels to make sure others don't lease to this person. A good professional should value his/her reputation and conduct his/herself in such a way that bad things can never be said about them.

                        I hope the horse fully recovers.

                        Here's to a better year for both you and the horse.
                        This! It's stories like these that keep good riders with limited budgets from having access to nice horses. We've been looking for a lease situation ( can't afford to buy what we need) and I might as well be looking for hen's teeth. And, there actually is a flip side to this issue. Someone gave me a horse on free lease for a timid 13 yo. Pony Club kid, so they have to do all the handling, grooming etc on their own. I was walking the horse from the paddock to the barn to save some time and he reared, struck at me and flipped. Better it was me than the kid! But the point is, he got fed, groomed ( by the kid and me together) blanketed and got his feet trimmed before he went home. No matter what happens, you return a horse in at least the same condition he was received, if not better.
                        Last edited by Running Fox Farm; Jan. 1, 2012, 02:49 PM. Reason: didnt finish
                        " It's about the horse, and that's it."
                        George Morris


                        • #13
                          My horse Owen was free leased out. Initially, all appeared to be just fine. If you look in the "horses missing" section, you will see Owen listed. He mysteriously "disappeared." I have received no answers and likely never will. He has very likely died and I probably will never know the details. Will I ever lease another of mine? NEVER. Very sad way to learn the evil in some people.

                          \"If you are going through hell, keep going.\" ~Churchill~


                          • #14
                            Quinn I am so sorry to hear this happened to you. I hope your horse was well taken care of before this craziness happened. It is sad we can not have faith in others to do the right thing and care for what they take on and to be honest when things go wrong. Hugs to you...not knowing is the worst.


                            • #15
                              I, as owner of a leased horse, just broke the lease after 4 months. It was an inbarn lease as well.As much as I hated giving back the remaing year lease fee, of which technically,due to negilgence involved I didnt have to, I would do it again in a heartbeat. As owner and steward of this animal I had to do what was right by him and no one else, not me, benefitting from the remaining lease fee, and certainly not the trainer, also MY trainer, who caused the negligence. Needless to say it turned out well for the horse but not so well for my future with trainer. Sometimes you have to just do what you gotta do.... I will never lease one of my animals again. On the flip side I am leasing a horse, and I guarantee you he will leave here in better condition than when he arrived....that's just how I was brought up.... it's a dying breed I'm afraid...


                              • #16
                                I'm so sorry that happened to you, OP. As someone who has leased seven different horses during my junior career, I hate people who abuse that trust and ruin it for the rest of us. I can totally understand why you and others who have shared their horror stories would never lease out another horse, which means that responsible leasees will never get to experience the animals you guys have to offer.

                                I've has some amazing experiences with leasing. My children's hunter came to us in a double twisted wire because he was hot and strong. I was so flattered when his owner came back to our barn a few months later to show another horse to a different junior and saw me hack him. They remarked on how happy and relaxed her looked loping around the ring in a loose ring.

                                A year later I leased another horse who I took to our local medal finals. Right before my lease ended he got an infection in his leg and it blew up...I'm talking HUGE. When my trainer had a to make the dreaded phone call to his owner saying that maybe we should keep him for a week or two until his infection cleared the owner said "sure, no problem!" Turns out she had seen us go at medal finals and thought he looked great. It went a long way towards assuaging her worries over his injury.

                                Then there was my jumper that I had for six months, and we were so successful together that her owner offered another month of lease for free so we could get more zone points. She left, only to come back about five months later. Owner couldn't sell and my barn wanted to buy her but couldn't afford the asking price. She went back in such good shape that the owner halved the price to make sure she went back because she felt she was so taken care of.

                                I'm not trying to rub salt in your wounds, and I am so sincerely sorry that this happened to you and your horse. Some people tack a mile for any inch given, and screw the rest of us over. I'm just trying to convey that there are people out there who would have leased your horse and cherished every minute of it and spoiled him rotten


                                • #17
                                  OP sorry this happened to you and as others have mentioned, there are good stories and bad stories. We had a horse in our barn go out to lease as a favor to a friend who we all knew from a local show circuit. Owner stipulated that the horse was only to be ridden by the lessee. Imagine her surprise when some kids came up to her to say how much they enjoyed taking lessons on her horse. So much for what's in a contract right. The only way to guarantee the same standard of care is to not lease the horse outside your barn but even then that can have it's share of problems, and that's not always feasible either. At any rate I hope the Op's horse returns to its former self.


                                  • #18
                                    Thank you for the caution OP.

                                    I think the message is clear. Be thoughtful in what goes into the contract, carefully check references and personally monitor the situation.


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by Quinn View Post
                                      My horse Owen was free leased out. Initially, all appeared to be just fine. If you look in the "horses missing" section, you will see Owen listed. He mysteriously "disappeared." I have received no answers and likely never will. He has very likely died and I probably will never know the details. Will I ever lease another of mine? NEVER. Very sad way to learn the evil in some people.

                                      Jesus...how horrific for you. I would be going postal all over someone that did this. I'd have their sorry asses in a court room so fast they wouldn't know what hit them. I certainly hope that you find the answers you seek.

                                      I won't ever, ever lease a horse out. For every success story, there are dozens that are just plain horrible. It's just too much of a risk, however good the intentions are when the lease starts out.


                                      • #20
                                        People are idiots and unfortunatly this is more of the norm that a rare occurance. It is so painful and I am so sorry that you had to see this happen to one of yours.

                                        My mare was a summer camp horse working for a broker. I never meant to buy her, just leased her in the winter and she worked at a kids camp in the summer. Not great, but they took great care of her and she always came back healthy, in shape and happy with good feet, teeth and they did their share of regular vet work. I could not take her due to college two years ago and the mare (background in hunter/jumper) was leased to a teen barrel racer. This youngsters family called the broker not even four months later and said that the broker needed to shoot the horse because it was dangerous and tried to kill their daughter. Got the call from the broker that I could take the mare back or she would be going to a local auction known to sell horses for meat. He would not let me see her for almost a month and then dropped her off still shockingly thin, can't imagine what she was when he picked her up. He said they had kept her in a barbed wire pen with mud up to her belly (which she had run through and has huge scars from). Now she had a bucking, rearing, kicking, and barn sourness issues that never existed before. And this was a kids learn to jump bigger jumps type packer a few months before. She shook even at the sight of a saddle, I have no freakin idea how a teen girl could have caused this much terror in a horse. I bought her, and over the past year she has been so full of try for me. You sound like you were lucky to catch your guy so early. Good luck to both of you, happy to hear that he is safe!