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Need some feedback (and a sample contract) allowing BO/coach to use horse in a lesson

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  • Need some feedback (and a sample contract) allowing BO/coach to use horse in a lesson

    I'm at a new place (as in new to me and new as in being built) for the summer but may stay depending on how this situation goes. Small facility, young but very competent BO/coach (who I've known a while) has asked to use my mare in a lesson a week. The financial return I've been offered is minimal ($10 a lesson which is 1/3 of the lesson cost). I've let her try her out this summer and the girl that rides her is fine (probably a little better than me) and I'm not concerned about the mare being ruined. It's actually good she's got one more supervised ride a week with someone-helps her fitness and schooling (which is the only reason I'm even considering it). I really want to make it a win-win situation for both all three of us (coach, me and horse) but I'm not feeling like I'm comfortable enough with it (as the situation is presenting now).

    My biggest concerns are liability and if the mare gets hurt during the course of a lesson. There is a standard liability release, but I also want some kind of agreement that should the mare get hurt while in a lesson, any costs associated with the injury are paid for by BO/coach. I also don't want to pay full board for the period of time I won't be able to ride her if she does get injured. Another horse I had years ago hit her leg on a hay feeder and it was career ending (aggravated an old splint fracture and never was sound again). Last summer a schoolie I know broke her leg stepping wrong over a small jump in a lesson. Maybe I'm being too paranoid but anyone who has ever been in the situation knows how awful it could be. Is the "injury clause" a reasonable and common request?

    Now here's the next thing. There aren't any other horses there to ride (only ponies, hence the request to use my mare). I know she could just as easily get hurt with me on her and that's life. But the $10 a week isn't worth taking the chance (however slight) that I could be paying board on an injured (short or long term) horse. Not to mention the wear and tear on my tack etc. which is not being taken care of as carefully as I'd like (but honestly that's being nit picky-if the big issue was worked out I wouldn't care that much).

    Basically, using my mare means the BO/coach doesn't have to buy a schoolie yet so she's getting one heck of a deal. I was hoping she'd offer me a straight trade (using her for a lesson = a second lesson for me, or a training ride) which is pretty standard around here. I would be happy with that (in addition to the injury clause). It wouldn't cost her anything but 30 minutes of her time (the private lesson/training ride time frame)-and I know time is valuable but I'm thinking it would still cost far less than buying and feeding etc. a school horse. She is looking for one as it's a show barn and she needs something that can show hunter (my mare is not hunter-at all), and the kids will eventually move up, new students will come in etc.

    At the very least, I would like to increase the cost per use to $15 so I get an extra lesson or training ride every 2 weeks, in addition to the injury thing.

    Looking for some guidance from both sides (horse owners and coaches). This may all be for naught if the girl who rides her starts college in a few weeks and can't find time/money for lessons, but there will be someone else coming along I'm sure.
    What also may end up happening (not because of this situation) is I may end up back to my "regular" barn and pay the coach to come do lessons or a training ride there once a week or every few weeks (even with the travel costs will still end up to be a little cheaper than what I'm paying now for board and lessons). It's always been on the table that I might go back as I get so busy during fall and winter with work I don't ride very much. Paying for lesson board when I'm hardly riding (or having the mare ridden hard once a week) isn't a situation I will do.

    This is a new situation for both of us so I'm looking for some idea of what is the usual protocol so I can decide if it's going to work or not.
    "Those who know the least often know it the loudest."

  • #2
    I would not let her use your tack, especially if it is not being handled carefully. At our barn, private horses used in lessons go in gear owned by the trainer. Never the owners gear for the reasons you stated. The trainer has a variety of saddles/bridles, etc and they are well-used!

    10$ seems fair to me for use of the horse once a week. If a horse is injured in a lesson at my barn, the barn owner takes care of it but any major vet costs are the responsibility of the owner. They look at it as exercise and training for the horse so its a win win for both owner and trainer. I don't know what compensation there is but owners with horses in 3 lessons or more a week get a break in board.

    If you are not comfortable with the risk, take your horse out of the program. It's only 10$ in your pocket a week anyway.


    • #3
      I had a similar situation and interestingly it all really came up when the trainer wanted me to sign her contract for her liability protection. Well I went through her contract and re-wrote and added some sections that would cover me as well. First if you are letting her be used in a lesson program you might want to get your own equine liability insurance -in case something happens to rider where horse causes injury... I wouldn't advertise the fact that you have liability coverage though. If your horse isn't isured you might want to insure them and might want to look into loss of use coverage (and have trainer pay that portion?) After all the only reason you're getting insurance is because of the lessons. Its one thing if you're riding or your trainer is riding your horse something happens, another if its someone else. You need to protect your investment. I also agree about asking for a reduction in board - in my situation I was stupid, didn't get one cent and for the most part nearly any time I went to the barn someone was tacking up MY horse..(also more riders seemed to be taking lessons on him than was agrreed -new barn now)

      Anyway in my agreement I included any injury to my horse while under lessee's care or trainer's care due to their negligence - would be their vet bill, not mine. Any damage to my tack - rider's responsibility to replace or reimbursement for replacement tack. Clipping / special shoes - their bill.


      • #4
        When my mare was insured and supposedly would be used for lessons (she never was), my insurance informed me that she could not be covered as she would be used commercially.... ie someone would get money. My BO had sold me the horse though and she had kept her under her umbrella policy, so we were covered one way or another. She never did use the mare as she was too strong/hot for the students. The only time she was ridden by someone else was during my daughter's lessons/camps where riders changed mounts for some exercises.

        Do check the insurance policies on that though.
        You are in Ontario, right? If you are a member of OEF, you should have liability coverage already if someone else gets injured.


        • #5
          Gottagrey is right on. I would be more worried about my own liability if any student was injured using my horse than anything. First, I would make sure the BO had equine liability coverage (not just using releases). If not, that's a deal breaker. If so, then get a separate policy for yourself. It costs around $100 a year.

          And FalseImpression's point is a good one. You are entering a commercial arrangement and you may be compromising your insurance protection as a result. I was in a similar situation years ago where my horse was used for the show team. I didn't ask for a penny because the horse needed the exercise and the riders were good.

          Now that I am a BO, I don't know if I would assume liability beyond what my insurance would cover for negligence for a non-owned horse used in lessons. I absolutely understand where the OP is coming from, but I also know from experience that horses can get injured by taking a wrong step. For example, if the horses pulls a suspensory in a lesson, is that because of bad riding or something that happened in the field that was aggravated by ANY riding? It can become a very gray area as to what constitutes an "injury" and the cause of said injury. It would be very hard to write it into a contract, IMO. I wouldn't commit to anything that might leave me liable for large long-term vet bills or uncompensated board. I am happy to cover losses due to my negligence because I can insure for that, but that would be it.

          Frankly the cost of having a schoolie is more than worth the suggested assumption of risk.
          Where Fjeral Norwegian Fjords Rule


          • #6
            To me, the risk would not be worth the monetary gain ($40 a month...) especially if you want to buy liability insurance and equine insurance. I am pretty sure you would actually spend more than you got in return!

            Last year I paid $10 to ride someone else's horse in a few lessons but looking back I realize that the owner really wasn't winning there. I mean the horse was getting used a couple times a week so she could only ride maybe two days per week and not on the prime riding day of Saturday as the horse could only handle one tough lesson a day. At $10 per ride, 5 times per week... that is only at most $200!!! That was only covering somewhere around half the board and she didn't get to ride her own horse very often!!!

            I really appreciated the owner making the horse available for lessons, but she was most definitely getting the short end of the stick.


            • Original Poster

              Having thought about it for most of the day I think I'm going to chat with her tomorrow morning during my own lesson and tell her I'm just too stressed about the potential liability and think that it's best if we discontinue using her in lessons. I'm sure it will cause hard feelings but I just don't want to take any chances of the rider or horse getting hurt (they jump at least a little bit almost every week). I've spent 2+ years trying to find this one, and don't want to take any chances. It's so not worth the $40 a month. She has lots of contacts so I'm sure can find something else to use-and if it causes hard enough feelings that I end up back at the other barn that's fine too. I'm sure she's professional enough to understand-I did give it 2 months and I'm becoming more stressed about it than less stressed. Each week when I don't get a phone call during or after the lesson to say something happened I take a huge deep breath and figure I got lucky this week. There's another boarder coming in October 1st so maybe she can use that horse instead.
              "Those who know the least often know it the loudest."


              • #8
                I think you are making a wise choice. I just think that if anything happened you might have a lot of regrets, and it isn't like $40/mo is that significant in the scheme of what a horse costs. I do think that $10/lesson is most likely on the low side for a horse that can be used for a jumping lesson, it isn't a good bargain for you even excluding the other issues.

                There really are some practical issues like liability and how things would be handled if the horse had a problem that might have been related to the other rider.


                • Original Poster

                  A good update-brought up the liability concern today and that I'm way too stressed about something happening to horse and/or rider. Student has her last lesson next week as she is off to college and coach is on the hunt for more suitable schoolies for her hunter program. If there is another student that would be a good match we will renegotiate possibilities for liability insurance. Even though her lawyer assures her the waiver transfers all liability to her I'm going to cross my fingers for one more week then I won't have to worry about it.......at least for a while. I realized it wasn't about the money or the tack (even though I tried to convince myself it was). I could get free lessons and free board and I still would feel the same.

                  Thanks for the replies-it worked out well (if only every situation from every thread worked out so well).
                  "Those who know the least often know it the loudest."


                  • #10
                    I think 1/3 of the lesson fee is a fair price for the use of the horse.
                    The owner in benefiting thru a better rider giving the horse an extra ride/training.
                    It's a once a week scheduled lesson so not likely to conflict with owner riding time.
                    I would check on your personal liability as horse owner or verify that you fall under the trainer's umbrella policy.

                    I use a couple client horses for lessons but don't pay owner any fee. The owners are happy to get extra training on their horse. They also call to get their horses added into a lesson if they can't come out. If I can use the horse I will, otherwise they end up paying for a training ride.

                    every barn has their own system and management style. people thinking of having their horse available for lesson use need to look at the program where they board, who would be riding and what exactly they will be doing.
                    If you don't think it's fair to you, then don't do it, you won't be happy in the long run and it will create discord at the barn.
                    "The Desire to Win is worthless without the Desire to Prepare"

                    It's a "KILT". If I wore something underneath, it would be a "SKIRT".


                    • Original Poster

                      I do think it was fair compensation wise (especially as it was only once a week with a competent rider comparable or better than me-I would feel differently about that if it wasn't beneficial to the mare). It's more of the potential risk of an accident (I work in a job where it is a huge issue so am highly sensitive to every little thing that can go wrong-because I've seen it). And it's a small community so I don't want "XXXX got hurt on ES' horse" or "ES' horse got hurt" stories floating around out there-that would be bad for me professionally as well as personally. But it looks like it is avoidable now after next week.
                      "Those who know the least often know it the loudest."


                      • #12
                        Lostboy.... Nice sig...
                        Nudging "Almost Heaven" a little closer still...