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Leasing-The good, bad and ugly.

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  • Leasing-The good, bad and ugly.

    Alrighty...so...here we go. This won't be happening in the near future, maybe not even the distant future but it's something I've been toying with. Since I am soon-to-be debt free and hopefully employed full time with a decent job in the future....I'm thinking about looking into leasing something. I take very, very good care of all my animals and when riding horses that aren't mine, treat them as if they're my own with the upmost concern for the heath/saftey/well-being of the horse(s) in question. I am a hunter/jumper rider.

    What are your experiences with leasing? Would you do it again? Is it worth it? Horror stories? I figure that with the economy the way it is I could probably find a free, or low lease fee "pony" without too much trouble. I've always owned, or rode for others and got paid/for free. This is something new to me. Thank you in advance, feel free to PM me.
    "And my good dreams? They all come with a velvet muzzle and four legs. All my good dreams are about horses."--In Colt Blood

    COTH Barn Rats Clique!

  • #2
    I have been both the lessee and lessor several times. In all cases, the agreements between the humans worked out well. We had written agreements as well as good communication, so there was never any drama. It can be a very good arrangement for both sides.

    The word of advice I would offer to you is to make sure that the horse fits your abilities and your goals. Sometimes, the horse that is available - particularly on a no-fee basis - is not one that will advance your riding. You can certainly learn from many different types of horses. But when you are selecting one to be your every day ride - whether to buy or to lease - it's good to find one that's a good fit for you.

    Good luck!
    Heads up, Hearts up


    • #3
      Success with leasing really depends on the leasing agreement in terms of your expectations (how often you plan on riding, whether you will be showing or not, if you plan on taking the horse off the farm or not, etc.).

      Leasing a horse has worked out perfectly for me as an older adult rider. At this point, I don't have the land (or the time) to take daily care for a horse based on my current work schedule. I have a wonderful, older holsteiner horse that I am primarily able to ride on weekends. He knows all the cues, and is a dream to ride (though, at his advancing age, he is starting to be limited in terms of what he can do in terms of jumping, trail riding,etc.) I would never be able to afford this horse for purchase, but can afford the lease. As long as both sides have common expectations (and have those in writing ), a lease can work out well. That reminds me - I think I need to make some more horse treats to bring next time I go to the barn!


      • Original Poster

        Thank you both, very helpful. It sounds as if things are in writing, the personality of the leasee and leaser mess well (as well as leasee and horse) it can work very well. Good to know. I thought I'd have been tarred and papered with horror stories by now.

        In the situation-if it ever happens-I'd prefer to keep the horse on the property and ride out of their barn, if I were to show it'd be very limited/probably non-existent. I'm looking for something to play around on and enjoy and would prefer a youngin' that I could help bring along/train. I LOVE working with babies and being part of their progression but at this point it's just not even reasonable for me to think about owning one. I appreciate the advice, keep it coming!
        "And my good dreams? They all come with a velvet muzzle and four legs. All my good dreams are about horses."--In Colt Blood

        COTH Barn Rats Clique!


        • #5
          I've had both good and bad experiences on both sides of leasing.

          The real key here is communication and thinking through issues up front. It's much easier to decide who's going to pay for what before there's a problem and emotions kick in.

          In a nutshell, as someone who leased a horse several times, here are the things that drove me nuts about the people who leased them:
          1. Someone who showed up outside of their specified time/day and took my horse out.
          2. Someone who repeatedly handled my horse in a way I considered to be unsafe after specifically requesting she stop and/or someone who refused to ride my horse in the manner that I specified (this particular horse was older and had a set warm up routine).
          3. Someone who injured my horse by jumping her at a time when she was not permitted to jump unsupervised.
          4. Someone who used my tack, damaged it and left me to find it rather than coming to me apologizing and offering to replace it.
          That said, I've had some great people ride my horses with whom I never had a problem!

          Here's an article that I wrote about it:

          Sharing your Horse: the Ps and Qs of Free Leasing
          Equine Ink - My soapbox for equestrian writings & reviews.
          EquestrianHow2 - Operating instructions for your horse.


          • #6
            I've leased out my horses a few times and it has worked out very well for me. The last lease I did resulted in a lifelong friendship with a truly wonderful woman. She took great care of my horse and it was definitely a positive situation on both sides. As others have mentioned, our expectations were well aligned. I had a horse I had shown through the 1.45m jumpers who was rather....er....magnetic to wood , but was rock solid at shows and in the ring. She wanted a horse to play around with in the lower jumpers and didn't care if rails came down. She had him and showed him for a year and had a blast. I sold him the following year and that year lease turned out to be a nice chance to "wean" myself away from him and give him to opportunity to go to a home where he's adored for what he is (rather than me constantly trying to make him something different). And from her side she got a very trained been-there-done-that horse that would have cost a lot more money to buy.

            Now I'm considering leasing out my AO Jumper mare this coming year and the woman who leased my gelding is the only reason I would even think about it. And again it's a similar situation. I've shown my mare through the 1.40m jumpers and she's won just about everything she could have won. It's difficult for her to compete at that level, though, and takes a level of fitness that goes far beyond what it takes for your average horse. My gelding is moving up the 1.40m this year and so it's time for a well deserved break for my mare. But I'm kind of stuck because there's not really anything for me to show her in that warrants putting mileage on her like that....not to mention the sport of it (I wouldn't feel right showing her in the 3'9"/4' stuff when we've done as well as we have at the bigger heights). But I think she would be way happier to keep working (yes, she's one of the "those"). She's not terribly old at 13 and is still totally sound. It finally hit me that finding a lease situation where she could pack someone around the 3'6" jumpers would be ideal and be a chance for someone else to win anything and everything on her and have as much fun as I've had. With the benefit, of course, of getting her back in the end since she's one I'll never sell.

            So maybe I went off on a little bit of a tangent, but the above is why I lease my horses out. I think it's important to have expectations that match those of the other person (whether you're the lessor or the leasee), and it's important to have a very detailed contract spelling out how every possible scenario will be handled (lameness, injury, termination of the lease, payment, what level or extent the horse can be used for, etc.). And then I checked in on my horse several times in the beginning just to make sure we were still all on the same page.

            Fortunately I don't have any horror stories (YET--always feel like I have to qualify a statement like that! ). I think it can be a fantastic situation for both the leasor and the lessee.

            Good luck if that's the route you decide to go!
            Flying F Sport Horses
            Horses in the NW


            • #7
              I have leased for the past 3 years (as an adult). I have found it a great situation as long as everyone cares for the horse.
              I am currently 1/2 leasing and pay a set fee every month. I ride 3 x a weeks and co-ordinate w the other 1/2 leasor) and it works out great for everyone! We can take lessons, go trail riding et al. All tack and care is provided for (even his winter clip!). It depends on the person and horse what sort of arrangement and activities you can do. Not everyone wants their horse to go out on trails, some really want their horse to have as many experiences and activities. It is usually a win-win for everyone! I have enjoyed it immensely! We have a "fan club" feeling for the horse and he gets attention and care 7 days a week.


              • #8
                I have leased two different horses since becoming a re-rider last year. I am a working adult with her first job out of college, I make enough money to pay the bills on a horse and go to a couple of rated shows a year, but if I wanted to buy my own horse, I would essentially have to stop riding for a few years to amass the cash necessary to buy something.

                My experience has been very good, thus far. Both of the horses I've leased (my current one included) were/are for sale, and that was made explicitly clear when I took over the bills. In my current situation, its really a win-win; the owner has the horse off her books, and I get kind of a free rein with her. Truth be told, I am not looking forward to when this mare sells!

                I really, really recommend carrying insurance on any horse you lease, whether it be a free lease or a paid lease. I just have mortality and colic coverage, but its a nice peace of mind for both me and the owner.

                Also, like everyone said, whether the agreement is written or verbal, be careful who you're dealing with and make sure that everyone's expectations are stated and agreed upon. Even though my first lease had a written contract, I felt like I got jipped on some things that I didn't even think to bring up.

                Overall, its a great opportunity, as a working amateur, to have the benefits of horse ownership without having the cash in your pocket at the time. Good luck!


                • #9

                  As someone with six horses, 5 of them half-leased at the moment, I'd also like to note that the one leasing the horse is getting the better financial end of the bargain.

                  Of course, that varies depending on who's paying what and how talented/well trained the horse is. But as someone noted above, leasing gave her the ability to ride a horse she could never have afforded to own. I lease my horses for between $150-$300 per month for the right to ride up to 3 x per week and to show locally. Even at the high end the lessors are not paying half of what it costs to maintain these horses.

                  Most of the people who've leased my horses have been wonderful. I've had one or two I've had to ask to leave---too demanding, not able to be flexible, not riding at the level they said they would be riding at, etc.----but overall it's been a great experience. I highly recommend it!
                  L'in'MAO at the horse world


                  • #10
                    Ive had a great experience free leasing my gelding. Hes a packer with a picky personality. You either get along with him or you dont. If you do, you will win almost every time out, in good company.
                    I am in school and #1 couldnt afford to pay all his bills (im jobless b/c of almost 7days a week class and clinicals) #2 couldnt stick my parents with the bills and sleep at night.
                    I free leased him to a young girl back home this past sping-december. Worke great! She payed his bills, could show him, do whatever with him. I paid his insurance, she paid for any minior vet bills that came up while leaseing and seasonal shots.
                    So far the new situation is soo great. Gelding is 40min away from school, so I still get to see him and ride him. They are paying 1/2 of his bills. They can ride/show him when they want.
                    In both cases, the leasor got to ride and show a nice horse, they could never buy outright. Win win for everyone. Gelding has been great to me, and I want others to learn from him.
                    Make sure you have things in writting, and are in communication at all times!
                    Best of luck!
                    For a moment there, you bored me to death


                    • Original Poster

                      Thanks again everyone, all your information has been very helpful!
                      "And my good dreams? They all come with a velvet muzzle and four legs. All my good dreams are about horses."--In Colt Blood

                      COTH Barn Rats Clique!


                      • #12
                        I'm going to be the lone voice here, I guess, but I will never lease out again. I had terrible experiences with it, which involved one of my ponies going to a barn with a good reputation and coming back with splints and lameness. I've found that people tend to use a leased horse a lot harder than an owned horse and when it breaks, they just send it back.
                        Now, I'm not saying that every leasee is like that, but that was my [bad] experience with it.
                        Proudly blogging for The Chronicle of the Horse!


                        • Original Poster

                          I'm sorry you had a bad experience with it. I can't understand why/what would make someone treat a horse like that. I don't care if it's not "their" horse, they're still living, breathing animals.
                          "And my good dreams? They all come with a velvet muzzle and four legs. All my good dreams are about horses."--In Colt Blood

                          COTH Barn Rats Clique!


                          • #14
                            I have leased twice. One time a horrific experience that left me saying repeatedly to all trainers involved I would never ever do it again.

                            After much reassuring, I allowed my daughters trainers to try again a couple of years down the road. Mainly because I realized that I was not going to pay outright what it cost for the level of pony my daughter needed. Leasing helps in those situtations. We found a wonderful pony. Thus far it has been great. I have enjoyed not only the pony but the wonderful owners who email me very often and I have had the joy of getting to know.

                            I think the key is a very intense contract that details any and I do mean any possible scenario. Always Always have insurance. Not even a thought about not doing that! I would not even take one off the property without it, not even a trial.

                            I personally feel whole heartedly you should have a trainer assist in finding that lease. That way you can get someone else opinion in whether or not it is a good match. I once worked with someone who said they never would do a lease unless there is a trial involved and we had a 30 day trial with the pony we have now. However, this is a topic of much debate and I do understand why some owners would not want that.


                            • #15
                              I can only comment on full leases (from both sides).

                              (Partial leases seem like a tar baby to me)

                              The success of a lease depends on BOTH
                              -Good communications and understanding of the expectations from both sides
                              - A carefully written lease that covers as many possibilities as you can think of.

                              The written contract only serves to confirm and remind what has been agreed to. Yes, you can take someone to court if you want. But in that case the damage has already been done. The POINT is to prevent the "damage" in advance.

                              That is why you need extensive conversation in advance, and regular communication throughout the time of the lease.

                              You need to communicate with whoever is going to be in charge of "care custody and control", as well as the rider.

                              My sister tried to lease out Magic, who had rather "difficult" feet. The lease made it clear that, if he lost a shoe, he had to stay in the stall until the shoe was reset.

                              He lost a shoe. The rider told the barn owner to leave him in the stall. But the barn manager thought it was a "lot of fuss about nothing" and turned him out missing a shoe. He became seriously lame, and my sister had to cancel the lease, and give him extensive time off to recover.

                              So it is important that there is good communication and understanding with the barn manager as well.

                              chief feeder and mucker for Music, Spy, Belle and Tiara. Someone else is now feeding and mucking for Chief and Brain (both foxhunting now).


                              • #16
                                Since I am soon-to-be debt free

                                And thanks for asking the question, it is one we will be facing in the next few years, as well.