By Eden Pessin
This summer’s show season is coming to a close so many people are looking for horses to buy or lease for next year. For many people, leasing is an awesome option, either as an owner or a rider.
Leasing out your own pony or horse can be a great way for your horse to continue working and be ridden or shown by somebody else, without you having to sell them. I have a pony I have owned for 4 years. I am not prepared to part with him, so I have leased him to a wonderful little girl who is having a blast with him. I still own him and am able to keep control long-term, but another kid is able to enjoy him, while I move on with my own riding.
Leasing a horse for yourself is a great idea if you are growing out of ponies, moving up to new divisions, trying a different discipline, or if you are getting ready to leave for university. You can still love and have a wonderful horse to ride and show, but don’t have the pressure of selling by a deadline. You could lease a couple of horses over a few years and continue to move up divisions.
This year, I was very lucky to be able to lease an awesome Dutch warmblood, Rookie, to show me the ropes in Jumperland. Last year, I leased a stunning Welsh x warmblood mare for my last official pony year.
Leasing has allowed me to keep my favourite pony and allowed me to progress in my riding, without a long-term commitment. Since I have been on both sides of a lease agreement, as an owner and as a leaser, I have come up with a few tips for anyone considering it:
Have a contract. A really good one. The process of negotiating an agreement might feel awkward, but if everyone’s goal is to have a good experience, you should have no trouble being able to honestly express your needs and wants. Take the time to consider everything you would want to specify so there is no confusion down the road. The best prevention is good communication. When we leased out my large pony, we asked several reputable trainers for their draft agreements and then combined and edited them into one that suited us best. Then we had it reviewed by our own trainer. Some people might even consider using a lawyer to write their agreement, if the horse is really valuable.
Treat the horse like it was your own. You might only have the animal for a short time, but a great horse person will care about its long-term well-being. The pony I leased last year was green and my main goal was to set her up for a successful career. My current lease horse is 19 and, although he is perfectly sound, my trainer and I always talk about the importance of guarding his soundness long-term, not just for the summer. I have enough respect for myself and love for him to not push him to breaking point just to win ribbons. I take care of my lease horses with the same consideration for their future as I would if I owned them.
Represent the horse well on social media. Make sure videos, photos, captions and nicknames are flattering. Everyone has difficult days or tough rides, but be thoughtful about the image you create for the horse. The owner and agent will appreciate your professionalism and it will help the horse go to another good trainer and home when it leaves you. In the same way you care about your horse’s physical well-being, you should also care for how they are presented on the internet.
Be considerate of the other people in the agreement. If you are the owner, try to not be a helicopter pony parent. Leave the leaser to quietly enjoy your horse. They won’t have your horse forever and you don’t want to deter future leasers by getting a reputation for being annoying. If you are the leaser, send updates and pics, when you can. They will reassure the owner that their baby is well taken care of. I have always invited the owners to come watch my horse shows. It means a lot to me when owners are happy I have their horse.
Whether you are the owner or the leaser, always put the horse first. One good year can turn into two. It is a great way to ride horses you could never afford to purchase or to keep horses you never want to sell. Every lease is a really great way to make connections in the industry!