Unlimited access >

Potentially selling a horse currently half-leased - how to communicate?

I currently half lease my horse to a fabulous teenager. Our official lease agreement has long expired, we’ve just kind of “kept going” (they’ve been half leasing for over 3 years now)

I have a family friend interested in purchasing this horse (not a sure thing yet), and am struggling with how to broach the topic with this kid and their family. They have been absolutely fabulous the past few years, but they are not in a position to purchase or full-lease at this point in time. If they were, I would love to see my guy go to them more than anything. I was not actively looking to sell him, but have been open about the fact that eventually I would want a more athletic horse to pursue my higher-level competition goals.

Any thoughts or suggestions on how to broach this sensitive topic with them? I don’t want to ruin a great relationship, or burn bridges. Thanks in advance!

I guess I’m wondering why bridges would be burned, or why the relationship would be ruined?

You own the horse, thus you make the decisions on where the horse goes, and it sounds like you’ve already told them there is a possibility the horse would be moved on to a new home in the future.

I’d just be honest and diplomatic about it. Explain that you hadn’t been actively marketing the horse for sale but someone you know reached out with interest in purchasing the horse. Let them know nothing is set in stone yet but you wanted to let them know of the possibility that the horse would be sold as soon as possible. You can then thank them for being such awesome people to work with and express how much you’ve enjoyed having them be a part of your horse’s life.


Similar to PP - not sure why bridges would be burned here? I would just let them know that you are exploring a sales opportunity that has fallen in your lap. Let them know that you will keep them updated throughout the process.

If there is potential and feasibility that the new owner may want to continue the 1/2 lease arrangement, let them know you’re happy to make the connection (but I’d check in with the new owner on level of interest before saying anything to the leasee).

If communicated openly and early, this shouldn’t put any bridges at risk of burning!


I want to commend you for keeping the kid’s feelings in mind. I was your kid once, and I had a lease horse ripped out from under me with no notice - and no chance to say goodbye. It was very, very hard to deal with. I wish you luck with your conversation!

As an aside, is there a chance the new owner would keep the horse at the same facility and allow the half lease to continue?


Thanks all for your feedback and advice!
Unfortunately the friends live 2 hours away, otherwise continuation of the half-lease might be perfect!
Now I just have some difficult decisions to mull over… If only there were a magical crystal ball that knew all the right answers :slight_smile:

Just don’t say anything to the kid until it’s a done deal. No need to 1) cause her stress; 2) get her thinking about dropping the lease at a later date if this deal doesn’t go through - then you’ll be really stuck.


I would be careful with this. While I get that you don’t want to rock the boat for no reason, I personally would be very upset and offended to learn that my lease horse has already been sold and will be leaving very shortly. This is especially true if the owner is someone I’ve known for 3 years and developed some type of a relationship with, which sounds like the case here. It just seems much more professional and kind to give them a heads up.


I got my heart horse sold from under me and it sucked, so please OP, DONT do this.

Just be honest and upfront and say what’s going on to the kid and her family. Let them know it’s not a done deal and you’re still mulling it over. You just never know, the kid/ family might decide they’re ready to buy or full lease. Or they won’t, but you should at least give them the courtesy of being in the loop. Obviously, you don’t have to since you own the horse and you can do whatever you want, but I think letting the kid know, before, is the right thing to do.


This, all the way.


I was the kid who walked in to the barn one morning to find my lease and heart horse wasn’t there any more. Very, very, hard to deal with that in front of everyone and not having been told in advance. Please be upfront even though it will be difficult conversations to have, ideally in person and away from the barn.


As someone who leased horses for many years, I don’t think this is a big deal. It’s not really a fair expectation that a lease will continue indefinitely – for either party! As a lessee, you don’t have control over the horse, so you are at the mercy of the owner’s decisions. While I can understand them being disappointed, it’s quite unfair if they end up being upset with you for your decision to sell your horse to pursue your own equestrian goals … after all, you own a horse for your enjoyment, not theirs! I say all of this so you stop feeling guilty about this, because you really shouldn’t.

It’s ideal to have a heads up and a bit of time to start investigating other potential lease options, but it’s also not the end of the world if the kid has to have a bit of a riding break while she finds another horse to lease. Especially as competitions are not running as usual due to COVID, she’ll be fine. Tell them sooner than later, be honest about where you’re at and what your thinking is, and everything will be fine.

That said, a cool thing to do would be to give them first right of refusal to buy the horse before accepting your friend’s offer. As said above, they may decide they can pony up the cash (har har) to buy the kid a horse if she’s really going to be heartbroken to lose this ride. I would caution against a full lease unless you had a good contract and notification policy in place, if you are going to lease your current horse out to buy a new one; if they aren’t in a position to take on the expense, especially with the uncertainties of COVID, I’d be wary about ending up paying for two horses if they back out of that arrangement.

You are being very nice to think so much about their feelings!


Something I learned in a business training recently – do not make assumptions about what others can & cannot afford. So in your situation, stop with the assumption that the lessee’s family cannot afford to buy. That’s first & foremost. Because, truly, you don’t know. They may be able to shift the money from elsewhere, take out a loan, hit up Bank of Grandma & Grandpa, etc.

We just had this happen to us in December with a large baby green we were leasing. Owners suddenly wanted it back to send to some other trainer to campaign him to sell. Not a word to me, not even to answer my earlier inquiry. Embarrassed the trainer catching her off guard, and left me in a position where I was technically in breach of the boarding agreement. And of course, absolutely devastated my teen, who was already struggling emotionally due to the pandemic.

After careful consideration, I opted not to say anything to them. I don’t fault them for needing to make a financial decision in their own best interests. And they technically weren’t in breach of contract as there was no Right of First Refusal clause. It just seemed silly. Especially in light of the fact he had an issue that could impact his marketability that I was obviously aware of & fine with because we had the resources to fix it. And while I did not say anything to anyone else, the pony’s sudden departure did not go unnoticed by certain people with deep pockets & industry influence locally…

I know financially they could afford him, but I don’t think they are ready to make the commitment to a horse full time (winter time especially - they only come once a week due to ski racing).

But I absolutely will give them the chance to make that decision on their own if I do decide to pursue this sale opportunity (which is way harder of a decision than I thought it would be!! This horse is pretty much perfect in every way except physical ability)

1 Like

You don’t know until you ask :blush: Who knows? They might decide to ride more if they’ve invested in a horse.

1 Like

How old is horse and how old is teen?

OP I totally get it. I am half leasing a horse to a young girl who loves him and I have a daughter of my own. I would feel terrible taking him away from his lease and if I had to I would let her know early on if it might happen.

My own daughter loved her half leased horse so much I couldn’t get her to go horse shopping for a horse of her own.


If it’s a teenager and a family friend, I’d wait until the family friend is truly ready to write the check, but tell them that you’re going to give the kid first right of refusal at the exact same price. Also, tell your friend that if the kid turns down the purchase, you’re choosing to give the teenager a month’s notice so they can wrap it up before the transfer of ownership. Essentially, you’re treating it like a month-to-month lease with a first right of refusal clause instead of a completely expired contract.

Tell the kid’s parents the situation, that you’re giving them first right of refusal, and that if they don’t want to purchase the horse for same price you’re giving them a month to wrap it up before the horse goes to its new home.

All of this is standard in the horse world.


I remember when I was a teen and I had my own horse but was riding a mare for the BO as well. I adored her and it about killed me when he sold her and I knew about it ahead of time. Mine had a happy ending when the horse was returned to the BO months later and he gave her to me!!

Please let this girl know what might happen before hand.


The only thing you can do is talk to the parents openly and honestly. And as mentioned, don’t presume their financial ability. Given the situation they may have to decide if they are going to step up and focus on one sport for child


I’ve got to agree with the previous posters who have already said you shouldn’t assume what the leasee can and can’t afford :slight_smile:

When I still had my gelding, I was considering selling him but couldn’t really fathom how or to who. I had a wonderful part-boarder at the time, who drove up from the big city, and was just getting back into riding. It never occurred to me to mention to her that I was thinking of selling him (I had a new baby at the time and was finding myself overwhelmed by commitments at home), even though she adored him.

When the farm we were boarding at went out of business and all the school horses were sold, she ended up buying the one she’d been riding while my horse was recovering from a hoof wall infection. It came as such a surprise, I was so disappointed that I hadn’t thought to have a conversation with her earlier about taking over ownership of my boy!