Questions about leasing a horse

Hey, I have a few questions about how leasing works.
So my plan for the new year (now that my health is much better) is to take a about half a year of lessons as a refresher (I know how to W,T,C plus learned barrels but that was 2017 so I want to refresh everything)
Then potentially look into leasing, there is a stable near me that allows a one day a week lease.
I can’t get in touch with over the holidays to ask these questions so just generally I’m wondering,

Financially how much am I responsible? Besides the obvious leasing fee is that it?
Can I opt out at anytime if my health gets worse?
Am I allowed to just go and hang out with the horse? I love riding but I also just love chilling out with them.
This has been a long time dream of mine and I’m in a place where I can actually do it. Yet I also want to be 100% I can handle what I’m getting into

It completely depends on your lease agreement. There are programs that lease all the time that will have a pre-assembled contract that will probably say something like you pay $X flat rate, which may or may not cover whatever lessons you are required to have per week (I would say the majority of leases require lessons or some kind of check in with a professional), and you might be expected to pay 1/2 of regular shoeing plus vet care like spring shots.

Some people are flexible and will allow month to month, but others want to sign off a horse for 6-12 mos and just forget about it in that period. I would say people who are more flexible are leasing their personal horse. They care about it and want it back if there’s any chance of things taking a turn for the worse or it can’t be taken care of perfectly. If you have a lease that is supposed to span a certain time, there’s often a clause that if you break the lease, you’re responsible for paying the next month, too.

Full leases are a lot more risk and you’d be required to pay for a lot more. Sometimes you can work out a care lease, where you pay for the horse’s bills in full but there’s no lease fee on top of that. Usually this is in cases where the horse’s sale value is low or it’s a personal horse or schoolmaster that is looking for a break, and they’re found through word of mouth/to trusted individuals. Full leases are essentially like owning, and sometimes even more stressful because you’re afraid to break what isn’t yours. Always always have insurance, and maybe I am just neurotic, but I’m not signing any agreement that would deem me responsible for any death or injury of a horse beyond severe neglect. I’m absolutely not signing myself into any Loss of Use agreement, and I want a financial out if for some reason this horse can’t do what I want it to. If I’m paying, I’m the customer.

I’ve never heard of a one day/week lease. Why not just take a lesson? For some reason that sounds fishy to me, like maybe they want you to pay some shoeing/vet bills, too, which IMO would be ridiculous for one day/week.

I don’t see any reason why you can’t go see the horse, except maybe if there are days the owner rides and wants the horse to have the rest of the day to be a horse. I guess I’ve never been in a situation where I just wanted to go see the horse and I didn’t own it. Usually my hanging out time coincides with my rides, and I don’t have time for much else.

It looks like a solid plan up front. My only advice is to be flexible and keep your eyes peeled. Good luck!


Well, all of this is going to be individual to the parties in question. In general, there are paid leases and there are care leases. Since this is a one day a week lease, I would imagine they already have a scenario in place where you are responsible for X amount per month. It might be a fixed amount or it might be fixed + a portion of other care costs (such as farrier and vet).
As for opting out, you’ll just have to read the contract and ask.

I did a care lease, and I was responsible for every single thing. Others have different situations.

None of those things are standard across leases. You’ll have to talk to the specific owner/barn in question.

Most leases are half (3 days/week) or full (6 days/week).


I’m on my second lease right now. I have a full lease, but it’s just for a few months. I just have to pay board. Barn takes care of feed etc. In my lease all I’m liable for is if my negligence causes damage accident etc. I just trail ride and stay on property or go across the street on off property trails. Not allowed to trailer out etc. I use the horse’s tack.

Lease terms seem to vary in my limited experience. In the fall was offered a longer lease but a partial one opportunity on a privately owned horse- owner has other horses she likes better, rarely rides this one and couldn’t decide whether to sell or not. I would’ve had to buy my own tack for this horse and pay some of his food and medical bill along with half his board. Another lady who already had tack from her old horse that fit this horse took that lease.

Another boarder I ride with has mentioned the possibility of me partially leasing one of her horses when my current lease is up. We’ve been talking loosey-goosey and I’d be leasing either 1-2 times a week or just a few times a month- we each have to see what our schedules are since she’d want me to ride with her or one of her other long time leasers.

So it really all depends. I found these private leases from my first time leasing a barn horse last year. So I hope you find something that works for you OP!

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I know a couple of barns that offer what they call leases on their school horses, but it’s more like a deal where you get exclusive use of this horse on the specified day but you’re still using their facilities and tack, keeping the horse on-site, etc.

Based on those I would expect that you’d only be on the hook for the lease fee and nothing else at all, but there is no substitute for reading the contract. I would not touch such a deal without a written contract. Doesn’t have to be elaborate but there’s too much variation in expectations otherwise! (Who pays for routine care, extraordinary care, boarding costs, any horse injury that happens while you’re riding, whether you get a substitute horse or credit in case of lameness, damage to gear, cancellation terms, and more all vary quite reasonably between lease agreements.)

Having even just one day a week when you can go hang with your horse whenever is pretty awesome, I hope it works out.


I agree that a single day a week lease sounds really odd, unless it’s a day of riding on your own, plus a lesson. In general, while I agree with everyone that it depends on the barn/ owner/ horse situation, I have always found non-standard agreements, like barns where people pay to “lease” a horse but still can only ride the horse in lessons, or pay to “lease” a horse with a fee and part of its care, but, again, can only ride the horse as part of a lesson program to be pretty questionable. Most part-leases I’ve had through a barn or owner have been three days a week, with one of those days being a required lesson (to make sure the partnership is going well and the rider’s skills are appropriate by an outside eye).

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Lots of lesson barns do one or two days a week leases, essentially just practice rides. Generally these would be on a monthly contract. It’s part of their business model.


Usually called a “school horse lease” and just a different way of billing for use of the horse in a lesson. Stables are independent small businesses, no two are ever managed exactly the same way and they don’t all use the same terminology to describe the services they offer.

Only thing that is the same is said services will be described and defined in a written contract which must be read carefully and signed by both barn and prospective client or their parent if under 18. Sone barns also have a separate list of rules which client or parent also signs…that actually makes everything easier on everybody in that barn,

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Yeah, but usually (in my experience) the person is required to have a lesson as well as a practiced, unsupervised ride, even if the lesson is on a different horse.

Agree with everything said so far. I do want to throw out some cautions based on a half-lease I have now. It is with an owner (versus a trainer or barn) who had only had the horse for a month or two before I started half-leasing him.

  1. Double-check the tack situation if it isn’t clear. I had to purchase a saddle, saddle fitting, bridle, bit, blankets, etc. I did not ask ahead of time (duh) but I was willing to do it because I was so excited about the opportunity.
  2. Make sure you get a clear understanding of who is riding the horse the other days - is it multiple people? And what they are doing - lessons, trail rides, super rigorous work like XC or barrel racing? I personally don’t think horse should be jumped hard multiple days in a row so I need to know how to plan my rides around what the other people are doing. And be prepared for challenges due to inconsistency between you and other riders/handlers - treats, obnoxious behaviors, mounting block, etc. The list is endless.
  3. Is the owner willing to address soundness issues and generally take good care of the horse so that it is useful for you? Do you have similar standards of horse care? And as others mentioned, make sure you understand who is financially responsible.
  4. Carefully consider if you want set days or a week-to-week negotiation if it is a half-lease, what makes the most sense for your schedule? In my current lease, I negotiate weekly, but my schedule is really flexible and sometimes it means I can ride more than my 3 days/week.

Half the time I don’t know who is riding the horse I lease on other days. He gets loaned out fairly frequently. I know the owner/friends are out jumping and hunting him hard multiple days in a row. Unfortunately I usually find out after the fact because the owner lies about what they are doing with the horse. Even if I do know ahead of time, it means I have to give him light rides after they ride him because I don’t want to break him. But practically speaking, he is 18 and already well down the broken path. In the five months I’ve been leasing him, he is increasingly uncomfortable in his hind end, will tuck his pelvis at the slightest pressure, and seriously needs a thorough vet check. Owner is unwilling to spend any money to investigate, even though I’ve offered to pay half. I also pay half the shoeing costs, which are quite high given he loses shoes in the hunt field frequently. Not fair, but I didn’t anticipate that when I started the lease.

Sorry this turned into a bit of a vent. Hopefully it will give you some food for thought as typically things go the other way (owner is unhappy with how the leaser treats their horse).


Thank you to everyone! It’s been really helpful and given me more to think about.

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If it’s a lesson barn lease the care will likely be consistent but mediocre competent. Coach won’t spend more on the horse than he earns. The tack will likely be ok enough for the horse but may or may not fit you. You will have no control over what the horse does other days or if he does a lesson in the morning and you ride in the afternoon.

I would start with lessons then after a month or two if you like the barn set up extra riding, either as a practice ride or a lease.

Wow that sounds like a tough situation for the poor horse!

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I hope it’s ok I add to this thread as I feel this is the right group - I am in a similar situation where I ride the same horse in a lesson program 2x a week for a year now. Not an official lease but I only ride him along with one other gal and spoil him - I pay a flat fee monthly. The past month his behavior has gone from solid citizen with quirks to dangerous - bucking and the biting is non stop. Spins when you walk into arena. He is losing muscle, has sores on one side and awful to saddle and bridle. He’s miserable. He wasn’t last winter as I have now seen him in all 4 seasons.

I understand the business model I am engaging within and a full workup is more than trainer willing to do right now… clearly dragging heels…but this horse needs a vet. do I cross the line and offer to pay? My business mind says don’t go there just stay off the horse but having built a relationship with him for 1 year now I just want him happy - even though his care is basically out my control.

Any middle ground advice from the hive? Lessoning and half leasing or whatever - it’s great but this is definitely one of the drawbacks!


Tempted though you may be, I would refrain from offering to pay for a work up. First, it is not your horse…Second, you have then opened the door to paying for recommended treatments. It sounds, at least in part like ulcers. There may be some other physical problem that is also going on.
Listen to your business mind - and the part of your mind that should be concerned about safety.


I would either buy the horse after a PPE to rule out serious problems and move him, or leave the lease and barn. This is not a trainer you want to do business with. No, you can’t get a vet out, the trainer will resent that as it will mean more longterm expense for them. Does he have sores under his saddle?

The best thing you can do is quit your lease saying he is dangerous and miserable. Offer to resume if things improve for him. That’s the only way to demonstrate to the trainer that it’s worth their while to fix the horse. If someone like you is willing to continue to pay cash to lease the horse then he is functionally sound by the trainers definition of earning his keep.


Thank you!!! And yes… I’m also a working mom… I always wear helmet and vest, so I don’t know why I wouldn’t be putting safety first here either… !

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Yes, he does have sores under saddle too (saddle fitter visit also been being pushed off.) Thank you so much I really appreciate you getting back to me in a thoughtful way and being a resource for others!


If the horse has saddle sores you stop riding now and cancel your lease. This is proof you do not want to do business with this trainer.

Lesson barns cut corners that I would not with my own private horse. But riding with active saddle sores is abusive behavior that evrn half decent programs avoid. Saddles sores will take a long time to heal before the horse can be ridden. Every trainet knows this. It’s not normal horsemanship but a very big red flag.

Walk away now and give notice for next month. Tell them you can’t ride a horse with saddle sores and deteriorating behavior.

You can’t save them all but you can stop giving money to abusive trainers.

Its also true that some horses for a period of time show no immediate ill effects from being in a crap environment but eventually poor nutrition and poor management and medical care will catch up with them. Thats why cutting corners is dangerous.

Trainer has shown you who they are. Believe them. Take your business elsewhere.