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Leasing - The Pros and Cons?

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  • #21
    This wont necessarily answer your question but to throw another view out there for you and those who replied. Say you are moving into the 1.20 to 1.30 height, the sale price on a horse like this would be well into the 6 figures, perhaps top 5 figures with certain conditions. Perhaps you or your family cannot afford this, you find a horse for lease that costs maybe 50k for the year, your 12 months go by, hopefully the horse is in the exact same shape it was in the beginning, a horse of this caliber is not to be returned in any other condition without consequences. After those 12 months are up, horse was returned in proper condition, you need another lease, there goes another 50k. By now you have spent 100k on 2 years of a lease. The same 100k that you didn't have the money to spend. Technically you still don't but you do what you can. Yes, I understand the situation of needing that in between type horse in which it would be better to lease, something that will get you from the 1.10 to the 1.15 or 1.20 so that you will be able to buy your 1.30-1.45 horse, but this isn't always the case.

    My opinion, try very hard to find a situation in which you can make payments under contract, typically you'll have to sign one that you can in no way back out of, or lease to own to where you brake the price in half, something along those lines.

    When the horses get into the very high / even low 6 figures. I have always found it hard to justify the lease price. Now that is not the case for everyone, some people have an easier time paying the 50-70k each year on a lease, whether there be commitment issues or an obese wallet, this situation is different. For someone who is in utter shock that their parents, or that they personally can afford or are about to shell out that amount of money, they might try to find another way for this to work.

    To be quite honest, when I was ready to buy, or when a majority of the people I know were shopping for horses that could do the 1.20 + the money just wasn't there. We had to find something young, not very expensive, and gain the experience of bringing a young horse along to the best of it's potential. Whether that be a very nice 1.10 horse after hard and valuable work, or a high jr/ao horse that we just might be surprised we ended up with.

    I don't always like the lease unless it's for a very fair price. With a bit of work and putting your feelers out, you can actually find anything from a 1.10 - 1.20 horse that wont cost you an arm and a leg to buy. There are quite a few people in desperate situations, some being as simple as "I have 6 horses and cannot afford to pay $1,200.00 of board on all 6 of them, therefore my 1.20 horse has to go since he is the least needed". Perfect, sold!

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    • #22
      I think it is typical for most lesson horses to be limited to 2' or 2.6. Once a rider starts wanting to compete at 2.6 and look to moving up, the rider needs to lease to put that kind of wear on the pony. It is simply more expensive to maintain a horse/pony at that level and keep them fresh and happy, and while a lesson pony can give 3 w/t lessons a day and then do a low jump school the next, you don't want a pony giving 3 2' lessons a day (egad!) so as you move up, you will probably find the nicer horses to move up with come through leasing or part-leasing, not lessoning. If you are able to lesson on a nice 2.6 or 3' horse and show as you want, by all means, that is a deal, go with that.
      At all times, we are either training or untraining.
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      • #23
        It depends what you are looking for. My barn does offer the option of half leasing a school horse. It is a flat fee paid month to month; you do not pay extra for farrier, vet bills, etc. This gives you the benefit of being able to hack your horse outside of lessons (the contract says 3x per week outside of lessons but most people are allowed to come hack every day if they wanted so long as the horse isn't being used in another lesson that day. The lease also gets you out of having to pay a "use of horse" fee every time you show, and guarantees you can ride your leased horse in lessons barring any unusual circumstance like Dobbin cut himself in the pasture and can't jump today.

        If you are looking to lease a school horse, I would carefully consider how much the price differential is between half leasing and taking some extra lessons. How "in demand" is the horse you want to lease? Are you able to ride and show him regularly without having to lease? Some things to consider. But generally half leasing works out great for a lot of people who want to ride regularly but can't commit to something more substantial for financial reasons.

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        • #24
          Originally posted by ako View Post
          WRT surprise charges... If I were part-leasing a lesson horse, I would expect ZERO additional charges. No vet, no farrier, nothing. The lease fee should cover everything.

          Once you get into full leases, you'll likely need to cover routine vet and farrier bills. That may or may not be negotiable. Definitely anything beyond that is negotiable.

          To protect yourself, make sure this is covered in the contract.
          ^I second this. I think a month-to-month lease is a great way to go in case the horse becomes unsound or in case things don't work out. You should definitely take the horse out for a few test rides before committing to any lease.

          A few other points to consider (based on some of my experiences as a past-leasee):
          -Do you get along well, personality-wise, with the horse's owner?
          -Does the horse have soundness issues and do you get any make-up rides if you are unable to ride if the horse is off?
          -Will you be expected to pay a portion of the vet or farrier bills if the horse becomes unsound outside the normal terms of your contract?
          -Are you able to take the horse off property (shows, trail rides, etc)?
          -Will the horse's owner let you change your riding days or will the owner frequently try to switch days on you?

          I have had some great partial (paid) & free full-time leases, but issues can arise from time to time. Having open communication with the horse's owner is key. I would recommend staying away from owners who like to micro-manage every aspect of your interaction with the horse. A well-executed partial lease does take the pressures of day-to-day ownership off, but still allows you to bond & progress with your lease horse. Under the right circumstances, I definitely prefer leasing over lessons on a lesson horse any day and you won't have the same heartache if something happens to your lease horse that you do when it's your own horsey kid.

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          • #25
            For me, the big downside of my lease is that it can end with 30 days notice to either party (that is also an upside). I am part leasing a nice horse just finishing his time in the pre-greens and pay half his fare (board, training - which includes my lessons, supplements, shoes, vet, etc). I can show him and if I ride well, do well in good company. If I ride poorly, not so much, but he is very honest and the jumps aren't a problem. I love our whole situation - days of the week are flexible based on my and his owner's schedule, the crazy expensive price of things in Boston is mitigated by sharing and I am fortunate to not have a lease fee. For the owner, she doesn't have to stress about getting to the barn every day and her young horse gets extra show miles on someone else's dime. She maintains full control of his boarding/shoe/vet/etc program.

            If I were paying a lease fee, I would probably be leasing a horse that was further along in its training/a bit older. The greenness/fanciness combination is pretty much just right for me to think this is a fair deal for both parties. Since I do not pay a lease fee and I know he wasn't a cheap horse, I do defer to the owner about once a month when we both want a particular day.

            We have all of this in writing in a four page contract and I know that helps everyone sleep better at night.

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            • Original Poster

              #26
              Originally posted by indygirl2560 View Post
              Leasing can be great depending on the situation. Like a lot of people, I started out riding lesson horses and moved on to leases. Why exactly are you looking to lease? Do you want more saddle time? Want to move up?

              I started leasing when I wanted to continue to advance my riding skills. Some trainers have very nice, A show caliber lesson horses, but I think most trainers just have lesson horses for beginner/intermediate riders and expect some kind of leasing after a certain point. Depending on what you're planning to do with the horse, what level of riding you're at, and how many connections your trainer has, you may be able to find a relatively cheap lease on a nice horse.

              Due to financial constrictions, I could never afford to pay a lease fee on top of board, shoes, vet, etc. That said, I free-leased some very nice horses. I started with my friend's nutcase horse, then moved on to an in-barn half lease on a wonderful hunter/eq mare. After that, I leased an older WB gelding, (who did the Maclay and USET finals in his prime), and finally a nice hunter gelding. With each lease, my riding progressed and I learned a lot, which I feel made what I was paying worth it. I wouldn't have been able to jump over 2'6 on lesson horses nor learn to do a lot of other things.

              If you would be leasing the same horses you ride now for the same amount of riding time, figure out which option is cheaper and go with that. Most leases tack on new responsibilities such as routine vet care, shoes, board, etc. so make sure you factor those in too.

              ETA: As far as lease terms being followed, I made sure I had a written contract with the owner for each lease. All of my leases went smoothly, but I did make sure to communicate often and very clearly with the owner about what was going on with the horse. My only surprise charges were when my last lease horse went mysteriously lame and we had to go on an expensive fishing expedition to find out what was wrong, (he's now sound as a low level dressage). If you have a clear, well thought out contract, I can't see why you'd have any surprise charges only than for vet, and maybe not even that if you have insurance.
              I am currently doing a 1 year 1/2 lease. I wanted to advance my skills, move up and show A circuit. At my barn, if those are your goals then they suggest leasing. I want to hear everyone's experiences/opinions because I am trying to decide if I should continue leasing or just do a lesson program when my lease is up.

              I am in the same situation that you mentioned; I cannot afford to pay a lease fee on top of board and lessons so instead of being able to look for an outside horse to lease, I had to choose from the lesson/lease horses in barn. What I am finding is that I would have saved money if I continued to just do lessons, and just more frequently rather than the lease. The lease has the added expenses of vet, farrier, insurance, and a few other expenses that have come up.

              I do agree with what most people are saying that leasing can definitely be a better option than purchasing depending on where you are in your riding career and the type of lease. I think next time I just really need to make sure the lease fits my needs before I agree!

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              • Original Poster

                #27
                Originally posted by Jumper221 View Post
                I'm always a little skeptical of the "lease the lesson horse" programs- a lot of them don't end up being true leases, just a way for the trainer to get some extra money out of you without really giving you much more than a guarantee that you'll ride horse X in your lessons.

                Would you get to ride the horse outside of lessons? Take it to shows? Would other people still be riding the horse that you would have to schedule around?
                I am starting to think that what you are saying may be true. I have noticed that people who do not lease still get to ride the same horse in their lessons, and are able to take the same horse to shows. They do not get the 1 day of hacking but the much higer price of the lease is not worth the 1 extra day of hacking.

                I get to hack 1 day a week in addition to my lessons. I get first choice to take him to shows. Since it is a 1/2 lease other people do ride him so yes, I have to schedule my hack around when they are riding.

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                • #28
                  I posted on FB this week I was looking for a free lease and was shocked at how many nice offers I got. Sweet! The one I am 99% sure I'm going to take will benefit the owner (who is pregnant) and hopefully I benefit the horse--who came off the track last year and is pretty green, but will also benefit me as I haven't ridden in a year with any regularity and I have a three year old who will be coming home later this summer. I need to get saddle time more than anything. The bonus is, he seems like a really fun horse.

                  This is much better than buying something temporarily for me just to get back into the swing of things before the filly comes home. There are no local instructors (that I ride with) with lesson horses, so that isn't an option. In the past I think I made the most advancement taking lessons 2x a week and paying a fee to do a practice ride on a lesson horse (didn't have to lease).

                  I think of it this way, a free lease you are often working on the horse to some extent. Hopefully it is mutually beneficial. A paid for lease, you hopefully have a higher caliber horse and are working on getting you to the next level. Maybe you are at a point it doesn't make sense to buy that stepping-stone horse.
                  DIY Journey of Remodeling the Farmette: http://weownblackacre.blogspot.com/

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                  • #29
                    If you are unhappy with your current lease situation, then don't continue leasing once the year is up. If you don't feel you're improving or that your money is being well spent, put it towards more lessons or save it. If you can't afford to lease where you'd be paying for the board, vet, farrier, and training, but maintaining essentially all control of the horse, wait until you can possibly find an in-barn lease from an owner rather than from your trainers school string.

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                    • #30
                      Originally posted by nwhunterjumper View Post
                      I am starting to think that what you are saying may be true. I have noticed that people who do not lease still get to ride the same horse in their lessons, and are able to take the same horse to shows. They do not get the 1 day of hacking but the much higer price of the lease is not worth the 1 extra day of hacking.

                      I get to hack 1 day a week in addition to my lessons. I get first choice to take him to shows. Since it is a 1/2 lease other people do ride him so yes, I have to schedule my hack around when they are riding.
                      My barn leases school horses but a 1/2 lease involves 2 hacks a week plus the regular lesson, which is typical over fences. The price is 1/2 of monthly board
                      plus 1/2 of basic vet and farrier. The lease client gets first choice of days to ride, within reason. They also offer a 1/3 lease which is one hack a week, but to my mind based on the price of board ($500/mo) and lessons (package of 4 group lessons is $130) that taking 2 lessons a week is cheaper. There were some advantages to the 1/3 lease, for some clients. As a lease client, even at the lowest level, there was a tendency for the BO to treat the client more as a "boarder" than a "lesson student" meaning that they might get the chance to hack other horses that might be available and they didn't have to pay a "day lease" fee for shows or clinics.

                      OP, what you have sounds like the 1/3 lease offered at my barn but with none of the perks. Perhaps you might consider going back to 2 lessons a week instead. How has the showing been factored in? Do you have to pay a per diem fee for him, even with the lease? Does anyone else show him?

                      Does your barn have boarders? Might any of them be looking to 1/2 lease (shareboard, essentially) for a time?

                      ETA: A lease contract on most schoolies is month to month not a year. Typically they are designed so that either party can escape easily, particularly the BO who might find they suddenly have greater need for the horse when 3 new advanced/hoping to show clients show up. They also like for novices to be able to switch their lease to better or more challenging horses as the need arises. I've never heard of a schoolie part lease that locked you in for a year.
                      F O.B
                      Resident racing historian ~~~ Re-riders Clique
                      Founder of the Mighty Thoroughbred Clique

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                      • #31
                        Originally posted by BostonHJ View Post
                        For me, the big downside of my lease is that it can end with 30 days notice to either party (that is also an upside). I am part leasing a nice horse just finishing his time in the pre-greens and pay half his fare (board, training - which includes my lessons, supplements, shoes, vet, etc). I can show him and if I ride well, do well in good company. If I ride poorly, not so much, but he is very honest and the jumps aren't a problem. I love our whole situation - days of the week are flexible based on my and his owner's schedule, the crazy expensive price of things in Boston is mitigated by sharing and I am fortunate to not have a lease fee. For the owner, she doesn't have to stress about getting to the barn every day and her young horse gets extra show miles on someone else's dime. She maintains full control of his boarding/shoe/vet/etc program.

                        If I were paying a lease fee, I would probably be leasing a horse that was further along in its training/a bit older. The greenness/fanciness combination is pretty much just right for me to think this is a fair deal for both parties. Since I do not pay a lease fee and I know he wasn't a cheap horse, I do defer to the owner about once a month when we both want a particular day.

                        We have all of this in writing in a four page contract and I know that helps everyone sleep better at night.
                        This is exactly my lease situation as well, except I pay a small lease fee (the horse is a fancy "been there, done that"-type so it's well worth it). As you said, it's a nice situation for all involved.

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                        • #32
                          Originally posted by nwhunterjumper View Post

                          I am in the same situation that you mentioned; I cannot afford to pay a lease fee on top of board and lessons so instead of being able to look for an outside horse to lease, I had to choose from the lesson/lease horses in barn. What I am finding is that I would have saved money if I continued to just do lessons, and just more frequently rather than the lease. The lease has the added expenses of vet, farrier, insurance, and a few other expenses that have come up.
                          I've looked at some of the in-barn lesson horse leases in the past and was amazed by how much they cost! So I think it's helpful to do the math.

                          I leased a horse when I first started back riding - twice. Once when I graduated from college I had a free lease on a horse for nearly three years. I paid all of his expenses but no lease fee. It was a great experience for me as I basically had my "own" horse but knew I couldn't buy at that point in my life. When I moved on to my next job, the horse owner had a horse that had gone from really green to one that was winning at Novice eventing.

                          The second time I leased after taking an 7 year break while I concentrated on my career. I started with a half lease and eventually bought the horse. It was an in-barn lease but very reasonably priced and the half-lease situation was ideal for the amount of time I had. When we moved, I bought the horse and took him with me. He was the right horse for me to step back into riding with but ultimately, he wasn't able to do what I wanted. I found him a great retirement home and bought my next horse. If I'd stayed in the state where I'd found him, I might have just continued to lease him until I was ready to move up.
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