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New jump height limitation for half-lessor?

I have a generally wonderful half-lessor that started when she was 12 and very much a beginner. 4 years later she’s advanced quite a bit, and I just got wind that she’s been jumping him outside of lessons over 3’ (with minimal warmup). I didn’t work in any height restrictions because I honestly never expected them to be around this long or for her to progress so much!

I have no problem with her jumping that height with her trainer, it’s the solo I don’t love (technically she’s jumping with some other people at the barn who jump their own horses at that height - they’re the ones who alerted me). Any suggestions on how to tactfully bring this up and let them know my “new” requirements for the half lease around jumping (and warmup?)? I’m still figuring them out… Thanks in advance!

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The easiest solution might be to put the restriction that she is not allowed to jump with out her trainer.

I would also add something about the number of times per week that she is allowed to jump.


A simple “hey, outside of lessons Horse is limited to X height due to liability reasons” is enough.


She’s a teen. Teens do not have the best judgement or boundaries. I used to be a teen. Fortunately all the risks I took were with my own horse.

Absolutely set any limit you want. No jumping outside of lessons is perfectly reasonable if lessons are twice a week. Or only crossrails or cavalletti.

An intermediate teen with loads of energy can and will cripple your nice horse. We had one at my barn who sent 3 schoolmasters into retirement over the course of a couple of years, until she got her own horse. You may also need to keep surveillance.


Whatever you decide, put it in writing at the next reasonable opportunity. I assume there’s a signed contract with the parent if she’s under age.


I guess I don’t understand the hesitation. This is your horse, you have every right to set the rules to ensure its safety and soundness. You don’t need to explain why it wasn’t a rule before and is a rule now–you don’t need to explain anything, actually.
“Hi Ms Lessor, we need to limit the frequency and height that Dobbin may be jumped in a given week, to make sure he stays sound for the long term. From now on, the maximum height is 2’6” and jumping is only allowed during lessons with your trainer. Any other rides should be on the flat, or easy hacks." When she inevitably objects and provides reasons why this isn’t needed, don’t negotiate. Just: “I understand this is probably disappointing news but it’s not negotiable. I totally understand if you don’t want to continue the half-lease. Let me know by end of next week, and I will waive the notice period.”
Repeat this conversation with her parents, as a minor isn’t a responsible party to a contract. And repeat it to the trainer so h/she knows what’s up.

If she continues to jump outside of lessons, is anyone going to know what she’s doing and report it to you? And are you prepared to apply consequences (ie, end the lease) if she violates the rule?


I would add that there is no sensible horse owner in the world that lets a 16 year old jump a half lease at 3 feet outside of lessons. Indeed many barns don’t allow any juniors to jump at all outside of lessons.

You need to talk to her, the coach, and the parents now. You don’t need to give a reason and there’s a good template for that conversation in the post above. You also don’t need to make it punitive or talk about what she’s already done. Just rules going forward for the best interest of the horse.

Teens don’t know what’s in the best interest of the horse and they can and will wear out your horse and leave you with the vet bill. That’s why adults need to give guidance.

If she’s jumping 3 feet now, what’s to stop her from putting the bar up to 3 foot 6 to get a good Tiktok video?

Be sure parents get it. I was at a barn briefly where the junior leaser was jumping horse outside of lessons with the mothers contrivance, we’re paying good money to lease and you can do what you want with your rides. Trainer/owner had a fit.


I am at a barn where the BO/trainer has the rule “No jumping unless I (trainer) am present.” Almost all riders are teens or kids and this is the way she protects the horses and teens from unnecessary risk and injury.


If you want to be tactful, I would simply say that the horse is of an age that it’s necessary to preserve his legs and not jump him extensively above a certain height outside lessons.

Also point out that to practice jumping, there is no need to jump above a certain height to get a sense for distance and striding. I understand the need to gain confidence at a higher height, but no reason to do that outside of trainer-supervised lessons.

Finally, you are the horse owner, so it’s totally okay to point out that the horses jumping over 3’ outside of lessons are individually owned, not leased, and there is a need to balance the workload of a leased horse ridden by two people. You know the horse, know how to warm him up, and as the owner, have priority in his jumping schedule.


Thanks everyone for the helpful feedback and suggestions. You’ve all given me some good language to use and talking points. As a certified “people pleaser” I always dread potential tough conversations with the fear of upsetting someone, but my horse’s health trumps that fear for sure. I do fortunately have a very good relationship with her, her parents, and her trainer, so I will talk with them, and also update the lease agreement.


I’ve audited quite a few clinics with Beezie and John Madden and “practicing doesn’t require jumps” is something they repeat often.
If star power like theirs helps, I’d share that and other similar mantras of some of the greats in our sport.


thanks @Angela_Freda, that is helpful! I’m mostly a dressage rider myself these days, and so am out of touch with that sort of thing :slight_smile:


We have a half leased horse and I wrote into the contract how high in lessons, how high outside of lessons, no jumping at all unless trainer, parent or owner present, how many jumps can be done in a single outing/day, and how many times the horse can be jumped in a week at max height. I’m ok with tiny x rails being done more than once a week.


I would add that it doesn’t matter how sweet and nice (or not) a teenager is. As the kid grows in skills, confidence, strength, height etc they will very naturally want to start pushing themselves. A 16 year old who has been riding consistently for 4 years is going to feel that they are invincible. And they should feel that way. But it needs to be channelled.

That’s why adults need to set limits. Especially when the kid is leasing a horse. Otherwise it is totally natural that it isn’t evrn going to occur to the kid that pushing the horse isn’t the greatest idea and that the horse is not also invincible.

In other words a teen needs it all spelled out or else, yes, a bunch of them are going to eventually set up a puissance test and see if they can make 4 feet. Or 5.

My little horse just refused when we looked at a 3 foot jump and there were no trainers around to show us how to get there. But I took a million calculated risks on trails and roads. She was my own horse, she was low dollar but beloved, and I actually was pretty savvy about her health and fitness, plus she was a tough little thing.

I would not want a teen today doing that on my horse. Indeed, when I had a chance to free lease my old pony to a yeehaw teen with a backyard full of lame horses while I was in college, I ran from that opportunity.


We always had a rule growing up of no jumping outside of lessons if you were a minor. It was a smart rule then, and it’s even more so now with social media and digital cameras.

Most lesson barns around here won’t even let their school horses jump over 2’0’’ unless the rider is in a full lease or owns the horse, so it’s not like it’s uncommon.


Totally get that. A good way to frame a conversation like this is to avoid the concept of right/wrong, and just focus on the fact that “it’s not a good fit.” ie, Dobbin has these restrictions on jumping height and frequency and you understand that he may not be a good fit for her riding ambitions. You could even phrase it as a complement (“Ms Lessor, it’s been nice to see your riding skills advance over the years. But if you do want to keep focused on jumping, it’s possible you’ve outgrown Dobbin. Dobbin needs to stay more of a on-the-flat horse with only low-intensity jumping.”)

Another important element of these conversations is to make sure you have buy-in. A classic mistake is end your request with “Do you understand?” or just “… OK?” And when the other person says yes or ok, you think you have a deal. But often they don’t understand, or they don’t really buy in to what youy’re asking. So do it this way. “This is important to me and I really need to know that you’re going to help me keep Dobbin healthy. Can I count on you to not jump him outside of lessons, and to not jump him greater than xx?” (To the parents and trainer: Can I count on you to enforce this with Susie?) Asking if you can count on them seems like a little rhetorical trick, but it’s truly more effective than just asking them to do something.

Good luck!!


You are handling this very gracefully… gotta say I would be quite peeved!

If you don’t want to make it about what the kid is or isn’t doing, I’d just frame it as soundness and liability issues and a contract update. “Hi (kid, kids parent, trainer), for liability reasons I am updating our lease contract to specify that Dobbin can only be jumped in lessons with trainer. In order to preserve his long-term soundness I’m also amending the contract to note that jump height in lessons is limited to (3’, 3’3, whatever you are comfortable with). Pole work or cavaletti a few times a week are fine.” If you get pushback, I like the suggestion above - that kid has improved so much that she has just outgrown this horse.

I’ve leased a horse that had very specific warm-up and coolout instructions in the lease contract. And I know plenty of barns where adults can’t/don’t jump outside of lessons, barns that don’t allow clients to school flying changes outside of lessons… you can specify whatever you’d like as long as you’re willing to enforce it.


I’ve got to say that:

  1. I never did this, nor did any of the myriad other teens at the lesson barn I grew up at.

  2. The teens I know now (including my own) are hyper- conservative in their management practices of their horses. They’ve grown up with horses, some have parents who are professionals, some have other people’s animals living with them to be shown. My teen drives me nuts sometimes worrying about every microscopic scratch on the horse.

If anything, it’s the little kids with half-leases on short stirrup ponies tearing around. Encouraged by their non-horsey parents.

@Eohwen, every lease I’ve had specified what the horse was allowed & not allowed to do. Including jump height. If you wanted to be very non-confrontational you could explain the change by throwing your insurance agent under the bus. (I’m one & don’t mind my clients putting the blame on me. ) I must say that I’m surprised that the barn owner doesn’t have some sort of rules in place for the kids & junior’s in this regard.


OP is the trainer even aware of the extra jumping going on?

Personally I would talk with the trainer and find out what the current work program is and set down there what your desires are. I agree there is both a wear and tear as well as liability issue

Then the teen along and in the presence of the parents needs to be told that the extra jumping not permitted


We board at a very laid-back barn, which usually is great! But in this instance I do wish there was a rule around minors :slight_smile:

I actually don’t have insurance out on my horse currently… :grimacing:

@TheDBYC My teen lessee is hyper aware of Koko’s current health (I get a lot of texts of scratches, loose shoes, abnormal behavior, etc), but she does sometimes seem to lack awareness of long-term health and longevity. I grew up with a great instructor who placed a lot of emphasis on horse-care and health, in addition to riding and so was not a crazy teen rider either. I realize most folks aren’t so lucky!

@hoopoe I don’t know if the trainer is aware - I would guess not, but have reached out to her to confirm and get her thoughts before speaking to the lessee and her family

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