Avoid Drama in Your Lease By Having This Conversation First

So you’ve been taking lessons for a while now and want some more time in the saddle.  You’ve also read the last few posts in my series because you’re a loyal follower (thank you!).  Now you’ve decided to lease and may even have found the horse for it.  Your next steps will help you make your future lease run smoothly.


Sidenote: If you HAVEN’T read the last few posts, you can do so now:

Help! My Kid Wants a Horse!

Meet Your New Instructor!

Beyond Riding Lessons; Taking the Next Step

You want a lease agreement in writing before any rides or exchange is made.  There are many different types of lease and each owner will have different stipulations.  It doesn’t matter whether you are leasing from a friend, family member, neighbor, barn buddy, trainer, or stranger.  Get a lease agreement in writing.  Things usually start out great.  Everyone is excited, you’re riding, the owner’s getting paid, and the horse is getting exercise.

What in the world could possibly go wrong? 

We’re friends it’ll be fine! 

We can handle whatever comes up. 

We can discuss any conflicts like adults/

Uh huh……


Over time situations might arise that you hadn’t planned for.  Whether someone is or isn’t adhering to the original agreements or there was some disconnect in communication.  These situations can make an amicable relationship get tense quickly.  Many horse-owners are very protective of their animals (with good reason) and disagreements often escalate quickly.  Things get heated, feelings get hurts, and bridges are burned.

When there’s a disagreement or miscommunication you will be glad you made a detailed written agreement beforehand.

So what should be discussed when working out the details?

  1. Riding
    • How long should a ride last? Are they 30 minutes, 1 hour, 2 hours, unlimited?
    • How many days per week will you ride?
      • Full Lease: ~5-7 days per week
      • Half Lease: ~3 days per week
      • Quarter Lease: ~1-2 days per week
    • Which days will you ride and when?
      • If you’re in a quarter or half lease you will need to share rides with other people.  You need to agree ahead of time whether you’re going to be flexible or if you want to set specific days to make sure you get those rides in.  Having days blocked out may help avoid scheduling drama.
  2. Riding Activities
    • Does the owner expect you to take lessons with the horse?
    • Will you be allowed to jump the horse?
      • Are you allowed to jump?
      • If you’re allowed to jump, shall it with or without an instructor?
      • Is there an extra charge to jump?
      • Many owners prefer to have their horses leased for flatwork only, and some charge extra for jumping.
  3. Lease location
    • Will your lease be on or off the farm?
      • Some owners offer full off-farm leases.  It is your duty to board and provide full care for this horse.
    • Are you allowed to take the horse off-farm for events?
      • Can you go to horse shows, trail rides, hunter paces, rodeos, or clinics?
  4. Money Talk
    • Maybe it’s just me but talking money can be unnerving.  I get anxious and uneasy talking money with people. Despite this, a talk regarding payment is critical to establish clear communication between the lessee and lessor.
      • When is payment due, how much, and where can payment be made?
      • When is a payment considered late and what are the consequences?
      • What percentage of board are you responsible for?
      • What does board cover and what extra do you also need to pay for (hay, shavings, grain, supplements)?
      • Hoofcare: What percentage of the farrier fee is required? What does the farrier typically cost?  This will differ based on barefoot/shod horses.
      • What vet fees are you responsible for?  Basic healthcare or all vet fees (emergencies)?
  5. Downtime
    • If the horse is ill or lame and needs to be laid up for a period of time are you responsible to pay for the lease?  In most cases the answer is yes, especially if it’s only for a few days or a couple weeks.  It’s important to communicate before anything should occur so you know how to prepare.
    • If you go away on vacation are you allowed to put the lease “on hold” or do you eat the missed rides?
    • If you’re sick or if scheduling conflicts occur and you miss some rides one week, can you make them up later or are they missed opportunities?
  6. Termination of Lease
    • How much notice is expected from you to terminate the lease?  Avoid hard feelings by having this talk.  If you provide a month’s notice the owner may have time to find a new lessee.

In many cases I see tensions arise among horse owners and lessees simply on account of poor communication.  If you take the time to first discuss details and get expectations in writing you’ll have covered your bases.

Make a written lease agreement regardless of your level of friendship!

If you have the conversation early enough you may come to realize that your expectations are completely different.  This is your golden opportunity to find common ground before it becomes a problem.  It could save your friendship, and will most certainly save you from a lot of grief!


1 Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s