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Standard (or is ther one) for compensating owners for use of horse in lessons

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  • Standard (or is ther one) for compensating owners for use of horse in lessons

    I have a client who would like to acquire a horse, and then save some money by allowing me to use it in lessons. I'm amenable to this trade, but want to make sure we're being fair to both parties. I can't afford to take on another horse whole hog. She initially offered that I would pay (or not charge her, really, as I'm also the BO) the board and she would pay it's expenses, but since I don't teach THAT many lessons requiring a school horse (most of my clients have their own, or will be getting their own soon), I'd prefer to do a pay for play method wherein I take x amount of dollars off her bill each time I use the horse.

    Is there a standard for that? 50% of the lesson fee? 25%? A flat $20? Or something else?

    Or is her vision more the norm?

    I'd envision using the horse two days a week at the moment, perhaps evolving to three over time. Any and all responses appreciated.
    Phoenix Farm ~ Breeding-Training-Sales
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  • #2
    It all depends.

    There is a barn in the area whose normal board is $600/mth for full board. If you allow them to use your horse for 4 lessons a week, they reduce your board by $100 (you pay $500/mth). I would have to think long and hard before agreeing to that. Is $100/month ($25/week or thereabouts) less board per month worth my horse (figuratively speaking) being ridden in $50/hour lessons 4 times per week...every week per month? ($800 they are gaining). And what kind of lessons is my horse going to be used for? What type of riders (hard-bouncing riders, riders jerking on its mouth, etc.).

    I would *hope* that a boarding situation like the one above, the BO would give someone a 50% discount in board for the use of their horse, but that's just me

    I don't think your client is being reasonable (she only pays expenses on the horse). That's asking an awful lot for 100% "free" board on her horse especially since you don't teach that many lessons requiring school horses. I would rather prefer a set number of lessons per week with x amount of $$$ off board rather than "I'll deduct money when I use your horse."

    I think if I entered into that situation, I'd also want some sort of paperwork drawn up in case my horse was injured during one of your lessons, etc. as well.
    If wishes were horses then beggars would ride...
    DLA: Draft Lovers Anonymous
    Originally posted by talkofthetown
    As in, the majikal butterfly-fahting gypsy vanners.

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    • #3
      Maybe 30% of whatever you charge for a lesson?

      Most lesson barns charge in the neighborhood of $25 to $45 for a group lesson. There is often an add on fee for use of the horse around $15 to $25 to allow the barn to offer decent schoolies.

      I'd do a tack on horse fee and just take that off her bill or you are shorting yoursef on what you make for the lesson. Bad.

      Otherwise I'd say don't do this, it can be a mess and you MUST have a written contract if you do. Don't forget insurance/liability issues.
      When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

      The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.

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      • #4
        We must have easier going clients at our place, as we have 3 privately owned horses that are used for lessons all the time. The owners are more then happy for there guys to get out and get the extra work (and training rides if need be), and we just make sure when they are there that the horse isn't used that day, or at least a different time of day. Past that the trainer pays no expenses on them, but the owner gets some free lessons, and of course free vacation care if they are gone. They like not having to come out all the time, and as we only have 1 little school pony on payroll, we love having these guys around for lessons. I think occassionaly if we have used the horse more then usual or the owner has been gone and has missed alot of lessons that the trainer will pick up the shoeing bill or something.

        Comment


        • #5
          It seems pretty surprising to me that owners would want to maintain horses so that a trainer/BO could have free school horses. Has anyone offered the owners compensation for the use of the horses or does the trainer just assume that they're available for free use, and the owners go along with the arrangement because they think it's the norm? I ask because at my current barn the trainer/BO uses boarders horses in lessons, whenever she can and as far as I know offers no compensation. Some owners apparently don't mind, but I do! Yet somehow I'm made to feel slightly selfish and possessive because I don't want to share my nicely-trained horse for free. In my opinion, boarders should ALWAYS be compensated for the use of horses in lessons, even if they don't demand it. mjrtango93, it sounds to me like the trainer/BO at your place is taking advantage of the boarders.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by mjrtango93 View Post
            We must have easier going clients at our place, as we have 3 privately owned horses that are used for lessons all the time. The owners are more then happy for there guys to get out and get the extra work (and training rides if need be), and we just make sure when they are there that the horse isn't used that day, or at least a different time of day. Past that the trainer pays no expenses on them, but the owner gets some free lessons, and of course free vacation care if they are gone. They like not having to come out all the time, and as we only have 1 little school pony on payroll, we love having these guys around for lessons. I think occassionaly if we have used the horse more then usual or the owner has been gone and has missed alot of lessons that the trainer will pick up the shoeing bill or something.
            Around here the trainers also use, if the owners so desire, private horses for lessons and it is considered a fair trade for the horse being exercised under supervision, no concessions are made on the boarding bill for that.

            You can only do that when you trust the trainer to be a very good instructor and the horses to improve from the lessons.

            Comment


            • #7
              Many programs I am familiar with charge about an extra $10 for the use of a school horse (maybe more if its a high level school master). I would think you could add that onto the bill for your students and be able to credit that amount to the horse owner.
              Epona Farm
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              • #8
                I've seen a number of methods...no charge/free, a $X fee per use, or a flat $Y off the monthly bill. It depends on the situation and who is benefiting. If I'm not around to ride my horse and he needs exercise, then it helps me to have it ridden under supervision.

                If there is some special quality about my horse that is useful for the students (schoolmaster,etc), but the ride does not benefit the horse/me, then I should be compensated in some capacity.

                The amount of compensation changes the dynamics...basically defines who gets priority, the lessons or the owner. Or if the horse will be used on a regular basis (5-6 days/week), thats the time I'd expect a very large break on the board, if not for free.

                I could see both of these being valid situations, depending on what each party is looking for.

                Comment


                • #9
                  On rereading this I see a huge red flag.

                  This person is buying a horse in anticipation of not paying the board on it.

                  She can't afford it unless she does not have to pay the board. Period.

                  Now, no idea what "expenses" above board will be but, ask yourself this, does your use of the horse 8 days a month equal what you would charge for a month's board? Say $20 a ride so your board must be about $160 a month?

                  Do the math. Don't get so eager to keep this client and use the horse a couple of times a week that you overlook the fact she is basing ownership on "free" board. It is a business, not a place to do favors because you like somebody...who is likely to stab you in the back at a later date.

                  What happens if the horse looses a shoe and is out for a week? What if it really goes off or gets sick? What if YOU get sick? What if it is just turns out not suitable/safe for the students you need to teach?

                  Can she pay for it then? I think not.

                  One thing if a client already owns one and has been responsible financially for it to work out a deal invoving using the horse for a few lessons. Quite another to enter into one for full board price on a horse that has not even been purchased with the intent of not paying board.

                  I would not go there.
                  When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                  The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by tja789 View Post
                    Yet somehow I'm made to feel slightly selfish and possessive because I don't want to share my nicely-trained horse for free. In my opinion, boarders should ALWAYS be compensated for the use of horses in lessons, even if they don't demand it. mjrtango93, it sounds to me like the trainer/BO at your place is taking advantage of the boarders.
                    Actually it's like Bluey said the owners are just glad the horses get out more and get extra rides and turn out. The first lady was approached by the trainer to use her horse (it saved her a ton of money because she couldn't come out much so she didn't have to pay full training to have him ridden) and she thought it was the best thing ever. The other 2 people actually approached the trainer about it. They enjoy some extra free lessons and are glad that they don't have to worry about paying or making arrangments when they go out of town. Its been the same 3 horse/owners for the past 3 years.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I don't think there is a standard, its whatever the two parties find agreeable. In my case I let them use my guy for one lesson per week and in exchange I get one lesson per week.
                      McDowell Racing Stables

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by mjrtango93 View Post
                        We must have easier going clients at our place, as we have 3 privately owned horses that are used for lessons all the time. The owners are more then happy for there guys to get out and get the extra work (and training rides if need be), and we just make sure when they are there that the horse isn't used that day, or at least a different time of day. Past that the trainer pays no expenses on them, but the owner gets some free lessons, and of course free vacation care if they are gone. They like not having to come out all the time, and as we only have 1 little school pony on payroll, we love having these guys around for lessons. I think occassionaly if we have used the horse more then usual or the owner has been gone and has missed alot of lessons that the trainer will pick up the shoeing bill or something.
                        One of my horses is used for lessons from time to time. I can't get to the ranch all the time and this ensures that she is ridden and handled. This arrangement has benefitted the mare and the kids who ride her. She's been to a few local schooling shows and given one young girl her first show experience and her first ribbons.

                        The ranch is a wonderful facility and the board is very reasonable. She's a gentle and kind mustang mare, but she is not the kind of horse that anyone would pay to use. It's a win-win situation.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by mjrtango93 View Post
                          Actually it's like Bluey said the owners are just glad the horses get out more and get extra rides and turn out. The first lady was approached by the trainer to use her horse (it saved her a ton of money because she couldn't come out much so she didn't have to pay full training to have him ridden) and she thought it was the best thing ever. The other 2 people actually approached the trainer about it. They enjoy some extra free lessons and are glad that they don't have to worry about paying or making arrangments when they go out of town. Its been the same 3 horse/owners for the past 3 years.
                          I see your point. It's clear that individual owners will have different feelings about having their horse used for lessons. However, if a standard was to emerge, I think it would be ideal if trainers offered compensation if the horse is used regularly and for riders at all levels. In this case, it provides a significant source of income for the trainer, and most riders who are taking lessons on school horses do not have the skill to train a horse however good the instructor is. Of course the owner can turn down the offer of compensation if they don't need the money or just value the exercise and attention that there horse receives.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            At my trainer's barn, boarders pay to have their horse exercised if they can't get out often enough. If you agree, she'll use your horse in a lesson occasionally (she doesn't use all boarders' horses) and that way your horse gets exercise but you aren't charged. She only puts suitable riders on each horse (so the $35,000 warmblood doesn't have beginners on him, and decent riders get a pretty fancy schoolhorse!). Everyone wins.
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                            • Original Poster

                              #15
                              Thanks guys for all the responses. And yes, findeight, I definitely have already zeroed in on the issue you outlined. I will not be allowing the horse to come here unless it is resolved that she could pay her bills whether I use the horse or not. Also, as far as suitability, I'll be the one giving the yea or nay on the critter (there is a likely candidate in the works), so I also won't give the yea if it's not going to work. This student is a beginner rider, so the horse would be your basic good soldier type for use in beginning lessons on the flat and over small fences. No fancy schoolmaster or anything.

                              I have a schoolie now, but he's not jumpable, and he needs occasisional breaks for soundness. This is why I'm not dismissing the idea out of hand, but I want to be fair.

                              I'm not sure this is going to work, but I just wanted an idea of what is working for others.

                              Thanks, and keep the responses coming.
                              Phoenix Farm ~ Breeding-Training-Sales
                              Eventing, Dressage, Young Horses
                              www.phoenixsporthorses.com
                              Check out my new blog: http://califcountrymom.blogspot.com

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                              • #16
                                Some owners may be just as happy to get their horse out and worked but it might depend on the quality of the riders and what they are doing in those lessons. I used to ride boarded horses in my lessons alot. They were nice horses and I was jumping 3' to 3'3 most of the time. Trainer was the BO and owner knew me and that horse and I got along well. That said, if I were the owner, I'd want to have a say in how the horse is used and by whom just as if it were a lease.
                                Essentially, OP you will be leasing this horse back from the owner for you lesson program. I'd try to figure out exactly how many times a week you would require the horse. Base any offer on that. If you need him 3 days a week, that is essentially a 1/2 lease.
                                I tend to see Findeight's side here. While I know of many people who allow their horses to be used in lessons, it's usually a deal that came about after the horse was there in the arn. Trainer knew the horse and his attitude and could match him with suitable students. The deal usually eveolves and owner and trainer communicate about how it's going. To start out looking for a horse that suits the needs of both client and trainer could be a problem. Every trainer can tell stories about the horse they bought as a schoolie that didn't like the work and turned vile. What do you do if her horse turn out to be unsuited or simply doesn't fit your clientele?
                                F O.B
                                Resident racing historian ~~~ Re-riders Clique
                                Founder of the Mighty Thoroughbred Clique

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                                • #17
                                  In a couple of cases where I have gone to a clinic, but couldn't bring my horse, and used one of the horses that was available at the location, I paid about $20 (plus the clinic fee of course) for the use of their horse.

                                  I think the most reasonable thing is a Per-Use charge, so that there is no obligation or expectation that the horse will always be used the same number of times every week or month. If he's off, or there aren't any lessons suitable to use him for in a particular week, then there's no obligation. If he gets used, then she gets $20 off her board. Keeps it simple.

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                                  • #18
                                    I don't think there is a standard. At my last barn, allowing a privately owned horse to be used in lessons knocked about $200 off your monthly board. At the current barn, using a private horse in lessons as a full-time lesson horse results in you just paying expenses like vet and farrier - no board. However, full time lesson horse means full time lesson horse - you do not have first priority on the horse, lessons do. You can ride the horse, sure, but only when it is not being used in a lesson and it's strongly discouraged that you ride the horse if it is used heavily in lessons. We have a sale horse on that plan and it's worked out great for us, but only because we have two other horses that the barn that are the main steeds and one is in training - I am in college and really do not have time for more than one horse. However, there was a situation where my horse was sore the week before a clinic - it didn't look serious and we were pretty sure she'd be fine (she was) but plan B was for me to not ride because someone else would be riding the sale horse and they got first priority.

                                    I think it's going to come down to a judgment call on your part, but I would be cautious since, at the outset, the customer is looking to lower their board bill. Many (most, really) people that do this are fine people and are fully capable of supporting their horses but would like to save money when possible, but be careful that they're not just clutching at ways they could possibly afford to keep a horse. Since you know the customers, that's up to you to decide. Whatever your choice, here's hoping you two reach a deal and have a great symbiotic relationship - working together to keep everyone happy!
                                    http://www.chronicleofmyhorse.com/profile/Ashley26

                                    "You keep one leg on one side, the other leg on the other side, and your mind in the middle." -- Henry Taylor, "Riding Lesson"

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                                    • #19
                                      At the two barns I've been at in our area, using the horse three days a week in lessons basically counted as a half lease, so the barn owner or trainer took off half the cost of board and split half of shoeing/routine vet. When we let our trainer use our pony for lessons, they also covered all the turnout/blanketing, which normally you are charged extra for. I can't see letting anyone use a nice horse in lessons for free, but maybe that's just me.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        I charge $40/lesson. I don't keep any lesson horses, so I have to beg, borrow and steal (not really) when I need them. I typically keep my lesson price the same and pay the horse's owner $10/ride. I'm thinking about changing that for this year and charging and extra $5 for using a "school" horse and then paying $5 out of my pocket. Most people who let me use their horse insist that I don't pay them, but I refuse to do that. I am very careful about putting students on suitable mounts.
                                        Big Idea Eventing

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