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Would you let a half lessor compete at Training

Has anyone let a half lessor compete their horse at Training level? My wonderful half lessor moved up to competing at Novice this summer, and has been doing quite well. She has started talking about wanting to finish the season with schooling Training at the last show.

I have personal competed him Novice, but never bigger than that (I personally have no desire to jump that big!), so A- he’s never shown at that level (she has schooled jumps that big with her trainer no problem), and B- he is 16, and I’m honestly just not sure I want him competing at that level. I’ve already given her parents the heads up that I am going to let her know my answer is no to Training level this year. I’ve expressed I would have no hard feelings if they wanted to find a different mount for her that she could do that with (but also let them know they may have a hard time finding someone willing to let a half lease compete at that level).

I did mention I’d be more open to the idea if they wanted to do a 3/4 or full lease next year since I’d feel more comfortable knowing she was more dedicated with more lessons under their belt, and that he was in better XC shape. But I obviously won’t make any promises because his health and longevity are my priority. I’ve always thought the bigger the jumps, the shorter their career. Any thoughts on this? You’ve all been so helpful with all my other half lease questions!


It’s entirely your call. Only you know your horse, his limitations, the rider, and what you want his future to age into. If you want to keep him going into old age as your primary pet horse you are absolutely within your rights to limit any risk.

Also teens are notoriously blind to risks and especially long term risks even on their own horses that they love. On a lease or part lease they can be even more oblivious. I know a well meaning teen that basically put 3 nice older half lease horses into retirement at our barn in the space of 2 years before her parents bought her own horse. I don’t know exactly what she was doing to crock 3 older horses in a row, every horse she half leased.


If he is sound and healthy, with no issues, and is properly conditioned and ridden responsibly I do not think the risks of competing training are necessarily greater than novice. I also don’t think it’s unreasonable to require her to do a full lease and improve his fitness or require additional lessons. Maybe you could compromise by allowing her to a CT this year so that she has a fun goal to work toward?


Personally I would not be comfortable with it for various reasons. She’s only riding 3 (maybe 4?) times a week and just moved up to Novice in the last couple months. Seems rushed to me under the circumstances (young rider, neither horse nor rider have gone T before).

I also understand you wanting to preserve your older guy’s soundness. It’s not just a difference in jump height. Training courses are also longer in distance and number of jumping efforts, the required speed is higher, and the horse will probably need more dedicated conditioning.

What does “schooling Training at the last show” mean though? Going T at a schooling show?

I love the idea of a Training CT as a compromise!


No, I would not allow a half-lessor to compete Training.

I’ve made the step from N to T many times. It’s not something that I would personally be comfortable with someone who rode part time doing with my horse.

I would have no issue with a full lessor taking the horse Training.


I agree with this. She just moved up to Novice recently and doesn’t ride often enough. A CT is a good compromise.

I feel if some one really wants to move beyond Novice they need a full lease for that purpose or to buy their own horse. There doesn’t seem to be a benefit for you as the owner to allow it as it stands now.


I’ll address this part. If he is sound, 16 is still young for Training. My sister moved her horse (an OTTB) from Training to Prelim at age 23, and competed at Prelim for several years.

I don’t think the difference between 2’11 and 3’3" is a big deal in terms of wear and tear on the horse.

But Training is over longer courses, and at higher speed. The horse DOES need to be fitter than for Novice. It IS possible to get (and keep) a horse Training-fit on 3-4 days a week (especially if you are riding him at least some of the other days), but it does take planning, consistency and dedication (interval training is not particularly “fun” or “exciting”). Who would direct and monitor the conditioning work?

On the leasing side, how much are you in contact with her trainer? Does the trainer think she is ready to move up to Training? Does the trainer think she is responsible enough to do, and monitor the conditioning work (including learning to monitor pulse, respiration, and temperature)? Has she been schooling Training level cross country jumps?

I think doing some Training level Combined Tests, or a Training/Novice hybrid Horse Trial (Training level Dressage and Show Jumping, Novice level Cross Country) would be a great next step. See how that goes before making a final decision.


Putting aside the concerns about the rider moving up too quickly, or concerns about the horse’s soundness, Training is the first level where I personally think you really have to be in a consistent program (and developing your partnership) week in and week out, to be able to finish a Training run comfortably.

Training is where the partnership comes into play because the courses are longer, significantly more technical, faster, and there are more questions asked – particularly towards the end of the course while the horse may be mentally or physically tired. A horse has to have good faith in the partnership and solid fitness, to finish a Training (cross country) course confidently.

Even if your horse is a thoroughbred, Training is where you should be doing at minimum trot sets if not canter/gallop sets once or twice a week, depending on your horse’s fitness, blood, and the terrain/climate. If this is a half-lessor and they ride the horse 3-4x a week, that’s a big chunk of their ride time devoted just to interval work. They then need to find time for XC and dressage schools. A half-lessor just doesn’t have enough days a week (my personal opinion) to really develop that partnership, confidence, and fitness required at the level. If they are only doing XC once a week or every other week, they’re not going to have a very confident run either.

There is a reason that people say the jump from Novice to Training is bigger than just fence height. Most horses can coast a BN or N course and make time comfortably, but at Training you have a big jump in speed and you will have to ride to make the time. I’ve seen many people (and it’s happened to me too!) who finished BN and N with plenty of horse left, barely crawl by half-way around a Training course. It is not just that the course is longer (which it is), it’s much faster and it is also physically and mentally much more trying than a Novice course.

And you get tired too! My first Training run, by the time I was halfway around my course I was thinking we were almost done, right? Nope, 13 more fences left. Ugh!


thanks all for the thoughts and input!
He is fortunately sound and healthy, (I had a “preventative” lameness exam done on him earlier this year to get a baseline to keep track against as he ages, his flexion test wasn’t great, but he doesn’t exhibit any issues under saddle)

She is currently just riding 3 days a week, but has been riding him for a little over 3 years now, so they definitely have a relationship developed together. I ride the other 3 days, focused pretty exclusively on dressage, so he’s certainly fit, but I definitely realize XC fit for Training is a whole other level.

She was looking at a schooling show, which certainly takes some of the pressure off for trying out new levels since they wouldn’t be timed.
She has a show this weekend (novice), so we’ll see how that goes and maybe I’ll see if she’d be interested in a Combined Test as a compromise, or if she’d rather wait till next year (assuming she’s interested in a 3/4-full lease). But I am going to make it clear that Training is not an option unless she is able to dedicate a lot more time and energy to working towards it (I’ve already given her mom the head’s up, and am waiting to talk to her till after her show).


Don’t forget that you could probably check out any prospective course in advance & see what it looks like and whether you think it’d be a good idea for your boy.


I have pretty much allowed my half lessor to event at training level for a few years. That half lessor is my child. They only ride a few times a week and I ride a few times too, so the horse gets enough work. She’s also scrappy and can get herself out of any situations. I would not allow them to move up higher than that without a significant increase in commitment, and better critical thinking skills by both the horse and the rider.

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I would not. I think since you came here to ask, you know your answer as well. It’s clear you like the kid, family, and how she cares for/rides your horse. That is GREAT, but don’t let it sway your gut feeling that they shouldn’t do it. I think the step from Novice to Training is significant enough that your caution is warranted.

You could allow them to compete in a Training 2-phase or 1.0m jumpers?


I have, but it was with an extremely skilled horse who had done prelim for several years and thought training was a walk in the park. I was riding her the other days so I knew she was fit enough, and the mare was a Connemara/TB cross who loved cross country and was very clever. That said, I wouldn’t let a half lessor move a horse up to training at that age.

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I have a TB who has competed through Training (previously with a pro) but has been half leased for the last 18 months with a rider going Prelim on her other horse. They just finished up together in Aiken with the plan to move up to Training on my guy… she had been riding out of my boarding barn for last 18 months but I made the decision to move him to her farm under her coach because I feel like the effort and conditioning and focus training requires deserves her full attention and that they’ll both be better off for it.

Also to add… depending on which area you live in the courses at the season tend to be maxed out and more technical, so that would give me pause also. Lots of great suggestions in the comments though!