Most lesson horse leases that I have known about the person leasing had prescribed times to ride, with some flexibility with a little notice. There is no show up and see that Dobbin is being used in a lesson when you happen to get there. (Maybe this barn is different, I did not see where the OP said that though.)
I ride at a barn that has lesson horses and a therapy program. If the BO is making money off those lesson horses, those horses are going to be well utilized and the lesson program will take priority. Especially if it can pop over 2’6". A half lease with another rider is a different story. The lesson program will not cut back on lessons with that horse.
And some barns do it differently. I’ve tried multiple barns in my very horsey area this year that offer half leases on lesson horses. The owners cap the number of lessons a horse can be used in per day at 2, so for 3 days a week, the economics of a half-lease work quite well. I’m currently half-leasing a horse at a competitive event barn who is used in lessons the days I don’t ride him. He’s very well cared for and events through training. BO has two other horses just like him: also split between lessons and a half-lease, also competitive in lower level events. Your sample size of one does not mean that the OP’s situation is the same - it’s possible to find lesson horses that make a great half-lease option.
This is the best advice, OP. I read something similar on COTH months ago and have been glad ever since that I’ve focused on getting as many high quality lessons as possible while getting back up to speed. It helps!
You are correct - plenty of barns aren’t going to overuse the lesson horse while it is being half-leased. The barn where I ride will half-lease out some of their lesson horses, and it is always very specifically mapped out as to which days they can be used so that the horse is never doubled up or over worked. That can also be spelled out in the lease agreement.
To the OP, for the current stage of your riding, I think you may be underestimating the importance of that lighted covered ring. That ring guarantees that you can consistently get your lessons in year-round. It may not be your long term perfect situation, but it sounds to me like the better place to start to be able to ride consistently. You can’t trail ride in the dark in the winter, and you can’t trail ride if it is pouring rain (a big issue in some climates), so you could potentially lose a lot of riding days in the situation with no ring. If you are leasing a mare that you can’t get there to ride, or have weather issues, you won’t be getting as much out of it. So, I think that is definitely something to think about and factor into your decision.
I’m going to vote for the gelding. If you are thinking about focusing on the jumping and maybe wanting to show, this is your best option. The half lease will allow you to get back in the swing of having a horse without the pressure of feeling you have to rush or worry about the weather, etc. Use the time to rebuild your strength in the saddle and your confidence over fences. If the lease is not month-to-month, see if you can get 6 months so you have an earlier “out”
Thanks everyone for responding! This has given me a lot to think about. Yesterday I called the owner of the mare to talk through my concerns about riding in the winter and being able to jump and show. We live in the southeast, US so it’s still very possible to ride in the mornings before work with some daylight (she said this is what a lot fo her riders do). And luckily we very rarely get snow, so that’s not an issue.
The owner of the mare teaches hunter/jumper lessons, is very qualified, and does go to local shows. I had a mini lesson when I tried out the mare (just flat) so I know I definitely like her teaching style. She also has a dressage instructor that comes in so that could be cool too. She plans to put in both an outdoor rind and covered area but she said this could take 6-10 months. She already has the land cleared, just waiting on permits.
I also had a lesson on the gelding at the other barn. I really liked the barn owner’s teaching style there too and she is qualified. I sent the owner a few questions about flexibility in what days I can ride since I am sharing with the lesson program and if there’s ever an opportunity for trail riding so I’ll see what she says back.
Fortunately, I think no matter what I choose, I’ll be happy with where I land! Both horses and owners were great. I have been looking for about two months for a lease horse and these really are the only two options within my budget and a reasonable driving distance. And as everyone mentioned, leases aren’t permanent. So if one ends up not working out, I can find another!
As an adult amateur with two small children, no horse of my own and limited time to ride, the facility is my number one consideration when riding. My current barn has a lighted indoor arena and since I’m usually riding after dark, it is imperative for me. The barn also has a nice outdoor, pastures and the driveway to ride down. I’m currently helping a junior rider exercise her new import a couple days a week as she is short on time. It’s a pretty perfect situation really. I only have a couple of days a week to ride anyway. Unfortunately the barn is for sale and my trainer is moving, so I’m not sure how things will end up. Prior to becoming pregnant last year, I was part leasing one of my trainer’s geldings, who is unfortunately out on lease in another state. Since she is moving, she doesn’t have options for horses to lease right now.
My other riding options are not ideal. Further from home, many more students, the facilities aren’t as nice. I love having the option to ride outside of the arena, but I wouldn’t be happy if that were my only option. I have some fear issues because of riding outside of the arena on the last horse I owned, so most days I prefer the confines of the arena.
All that to say, I think based on facility alone you need to keep looking. I don’t know if you have children or not, but even just the 9 to 5 working aspect complicates things.
For now, based on the limited info here without knowing how skilled and fit OP is. I would go with the barn with the lighted arena to advance riding skills and retrain rider muscles and confidence. Seems more of an opportunity for social interaction at that barn too.
OP may be overestimating her available riding time and how she feels about riding alone without a ring on a horse that tested her on the trial ride and may need more riding to stay sensible in winter without lights or a fenced ring. Sometimes trying to combine these challenges with a 9/5 career job turns into having to force yourself to go ride, or even burnout. BTDT several times.
Anyway, think looking at the overall barn environment, carefully considering how riding will work with career demands and lets not forget things like extra drive time and amenities like a place to change clothes. Think this decision is best directed at how each barn environment will work with OPs other commitments.
Plus, we are talking a short term half lease so OP can regain and polish her riding skills, for now, dont see either horse as a big plus or minus, but the barn environments are quite different and, IMO, the lighted arenas and lesson program seem a better choice. For now. Later, perhaps there will be better choices and a choice C or even D will emerge as OP gets more familiar with barns in her area and they get to know her.
Patience goes a long way in finding exactly the right lease horse and barn and short term part leases can fill time until the perfect situation reveals itself.
Have you considered how many rain days you get in the SE? When I leased a horse in the SE, at a barn with a ring that wasn’t covered, there were winter months where I barely got to ride because we got so much rain and the ring and fields were too wet too ride in. The math definitely wasn’t pretty when I divided up the cost of each ride in those months!! I will never again choose a facility without a covered or an indoor because the rain can just be too disruptive to the riding schedule. Snow never crosses my mind because if it is snowing it would be too cold for me to want to go ride anyway
Fortunately, we don’t get that much rain here. Covered rings are extremely rare in my area so I just saw this as a nice extra perk, not something I must have. The barn where I ride now doesn’t have a covered ring and I can only think of one week in the last year where I couldn’t ride at all. I’d stay there but their leases would cost me as much as my home mortgage each month
Just an added thought here…dont get hung up on just height when talking about moving up. Each 6” increase after 2’6” also means a foot more in each stride and at least a foot wider oxer/spread fence. Its just more of everything. It feels lots faster, looks much bigger and gets much less forgiving of mistakes or timid riders. Hence the desire for the ‘politely forward” horse rather then the kick every stride ride, especially when rider is not so keen for more. Its about much more then 6”.
The idea of what what the feeling is at 2’6” versus 3’ is scary the first 20-50 courses you ride and from 2’6” to 3’6” positively terrifying. Definately need to plan at least a year at 3’ on an experienced schoolmaster will to help you learn and tolerate mistakes instead of get strong if you change your mind and/or pick too much( the hallmark of the Adult Ammy) or dumping you if the spot was less then perfect as a Green horse might or a cagey veteran with a bad attitude definitely will.
More then a few Adults who started riding late realize when they really are looking down that 3’6” vertical-oxer-oxer line set at 13’ realize they were happy at 3’. Even experienced riders hitting middle age who used to relish 4’ work back up to that and decide to stay at 3’.
Still think OP needs different trainer. Good ones need no defending or explanation.
Thank you for this. Especially the correlation between height/striding. I was trying to explain to someone why the gap between 2’6" & 3’ is the one that gives people fits & couldn’t come up with more than, “You just can’t expect to be a passenger.”
@SRA, do you have a good idea of how many days per week the mare needs to be ridden in order to stay fit, sound, and sane? If she needs 5-6 days per week & you can realistically do 3 or 4, there is going to be an issue. Especially if she is not one of those miraculous souls that “is the same horse after being turned out in a field for 3 months as she is being ridden daily,” as sellers love to say in ads. If there are no lights, will not be for at least 6-10 months, and you’re not sure how things will shake out come winter & you’re leaving work past dark, what will you do? You may need to pay the owner or another trainer to ride her a couple times a week. And that gets expensive fast.
OP, is the mare a full time lease, no other rider? And will you continue your good lessons at the good barn one, preferably two, days a week? If so you don’t need a full time lease.
Ideal would be two good lessons a week at your good expensive barn and 2 or 3 days a week on a half lease elsewhere, especially if there is instructor support if needed on the lease. That will put you in the saddle 4 or 5 days a week, which is plenty if your time is limited. Hopefully two of those days are Saturday and Sunday, then two or 3 days after work.
Go month by month, and drop the lease if the horse gets unsound or cranky or the schedule doesn’t work for you or the barn is craycray.
I think both options sound good. It’s easy to overthink everything in horses. Since you’re going month to month, it’s easy to make a change if it’s not working out. Since it’s only April, you have a long time to worry about whether the darkness in winter will really be an issue with the mare. Who knows what might change in the next 4-5 months. I would go with the option that sounds like the most fun right now.