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WWYD awkward situation with lease rider

I own a 24 year old gelding that is very mellow and easy going. He’s great for more nervous riders but also a lot of fun to ride. I let the barn owner occasionally use him for lessons and when I’m out of town I let others ride him sometimes. This situation initially came to be back in March. I ended up in the ER with an appendicitis and had to emeregently have my appendix removed. I would be unable to ride for about a month and asked the barn owner if she wanted to use him for lessons or had someone that would be interesting in riding him while I’m unable to. I’m a big believer that with senior horses it’s use or or lose it and keeping them fit is best, so I really wanted him to continue to be ridden 4-5 times a week.

The barn owner says she actually has the perfect rider, an older lady in her 70s that takes lessons but all of the barn owner lesson horses are not a good fit for her. She rides him in a lesson and it’s a great fit, my horse really enjoys taking care of his rider and she is only doing walk/trot, which is a big plus in his book! So she rides him for the weeks I’m recovering from surgery. I’m cleared to ride again and she approaches me, says she really enjoys my horse and wants to know about leasing. We work something out and come to an agreement that she can ride him two times a week, once in a lesson and once on her own for a monthly lease of $200.

As an aside, this woman also owns a horse. It is an OTTB that quite honestly is way too much horse for a timid, older rider. From what I understand, barn owner won’t let him board at her barn because he is unruly and for the last 6 months or so has been in training with a cowboy-type trainer. I’m sure a lot of you have seen this type of situation where a rider just gets way too much horse. So her plan was to lease my horse until her horse is done with training at the trainer’s barn.

All goes well for the first couple months, she seems to really hit it off with my horse and they seem to be making great progress. Then one day I come out and my horse has very clear sweat marks in the shape of the saddle and girth. I sent a text to both the lease rider and the barn owner who occasionally uses him for lessons basically saying “please, if horse gets sweaty under the saddle, please either hose him off or curry/brush away the sweat before putting him back.” I didn’t think much of it, I wasn’t mad, just wanted to make sure horse is taken care of. The next day lease rider texts me she is ending the lease right now, she needs to focus on her own horse and not lease anymore. Uh okay. Barn owner later pulls me aside and says she ended the lease because she was upset and offended by my text. I later send her an apology but get nothing back.

Fast forward a month later and I am out of the country for a month and a half for work. I ask the barn owner, please put horse to work however you see fit! Former lease rider starts taking lessons and riding him again because barn owner really doesn’t have any other horses suitable for her. Okay, fine I’m just glad horse is being worked while I’m abroad! Well, I’ve been back a little over a month now and at first, she just wanted to continue to ride him weekly in her lesson. Okay, fine, it’s just one day a week. But now she also wants to take him to some local schooling shows this fall and has been texting me weekly asking to ride an additional day in addition to her lesson.

So basically, now she is riding him 2x a week, which is what our lease agreement was, but I am not getting any kind of compensation. I feel a little bit like a sucker now haha. I really do enjoy riding my horse horse and try to ride at least 4 days a week. I’m not sure what exactly to do at this point because she is going to continue to want to ride him more often outside of her weekly lesson, especially since she is taking him to schooling shows. (Which I was a bit reluctant to do in the first place. He has been retired from showing for about 5 years now, but I figure a couple intro dressage tests won’t hurt anything). I’m not usually this passive but I guess I feel a bit bad. She did keep him fit for me while I was recovering from surgery and when I was abroad. And she’s an older lady and pretty heavy, so she does need a horse that is both mellow and larger.


Be prepared for a litany of tough replies and strong assertions to “use your words” and “put it in writing”.

I had a similar deal get sideways. I felt guilty for drawing boundaries cause “she kept him in shape” while I was traveling or whatever reason.

You need to gently but firmly re-align this “expected use” arrangement immediately before it becomes more difficult than I suspect it already is. You aren’t unreasonable expecting a part-lease situation with 2 rides a week. This sounds a bit like the “frog in a boiling pot” comparison.

Draw boundaries clearly and firmly NOW. Better late than never.

I speak from experience. I gave an inch with my gelding, and people took a mile.


Any leaser in a situation where the owner is absent in some way is going to try to get more and more free time, offering to take care of horse on extra days, etc. I did it and ended up with the horse! So you need to be clear.

  1. What kind of riding will you allow? Do you want him to only do walk/trot? Do you want him to show? Realize that as this riders ability slowly increases so will her ambitions.

  2. If cash matters for you in this deal, then set a price for one days use, two days use etc per week and require that in advance of the upcoming month.

  3. If you want horse care while you are gone, you could offer extra days for free.

  4. You are within your rights to say she can only ride one day a week in lessons or that a show is “too much work for him at his age.”

Let me get this straight. She was paying for a two day lease. She had a hissy fit because you told her to brush out the horse and broke the lease. Then she reappeared riding the horse again in lessons without paying the previous lease fee. And trainer facilitated this. Now she wants to ride and show more for free. How does this happen? Put her back on the old lease contract with whatever limitations you want. I read through the lines that she’s a bit of a flake, so don’t let her take advantage of you. Your horse is a very valuable commodity here


I’m not generally an absent owner and I think that’s where a lot of my frustration comes from. This spring/summer I was absent more between the surgery and a unique opportunity for work. But I really don’t travel often, maybe 2 or 3 times a year.

I usually ride 4 or 5 days a week so now that life is back to usual for me, letting her ride 2x a week is cutting into my riding time. I feel frustrated by that and not getting any kind of compensation for it.


What do you want, more riding time or more cash?

If you want more riding time, tell her she is limited to one lesson a week. Or none. Pull your horse out of lessons.

If you want cash, decide how much and tell her to pay in advance.

In what universe does she suddenly get to ride your excellent horse twice a week for free? That is just not how any of this works.

You do not owe her anything. If she wants a safe horse she can sell her OTTB and buy a retired lesson horse from somewhere.


Your horse, your time. A lease was a good way to deal with a short term problem, but now you are back to normal and don’t need any kind of lease arrangement. The horse doesn’t need a second rider. The horse has been retired from showing. The horse is getting along in years. The horse is getting the type of work you feel is now suitable for him. You help out your Trainer by allowing her to use your horse in a few lessons so you are already being a generous and supportive Barn Person.

Then we have an older lady, who owns her own horse, who can’t ride her own horse, likes riding your horse because she feels safe and with increasing confidence wants to expand her equestrian activities. But also an older lady who has previously flounced off when you made a reasonable request about horse care.

“No” is a good word. Short, decisive, effective when spoken with conviction. If your Trainer puts the older rider on board for a lesson, that is up to the Trainer, according to your arrangement. After that, your horse, your time. You aren’t being mean or unreasonable to enjoy, protect and care for your own horse. I think you might need to mention to your Trainer that you feel boundaries are being pushed. Particularly as there is no current lease agreement in place.


You aren’t being unreasonable here.

If it were me, I’d just tell trainer and rider that you’ve been thinking about it and that, now your circumstances have changed and you are able to ride, at 24, you feel that the 4 days a week that you wish to ride your horse is quite enough work for him. You are most grateful for their help, etc,

They know. They’ve just been pushing their luck. Older lady has other options, she just needs the push to pursue them.


Older lady should be tripping over herself chasing you down to ask to lease him so she can enjoy, learn and show with him, not taking advantage of your kindness!
Sneakily getting more and more rides and now wanting even more to train and show?
Flakey is a good description, taking advantage of your good will is how this looks from the sidelines.

If you don’t like it, if you want to keep your horse for yourself, he is older and doesn’t need that much riding as the lady is wanting to do added to what you want to ride, NO is a sensible answer to any further request.
Keep the trainer informed of your wishes for the horse and any other further use by anyone.


It sounds like you’re being taken advantage of. Stand up for yourself and your horse. If he’s retired from showing, let him stay retired. Showing is harder on them than riding at home. This woman paid to lease your horse and now wants free rides plus showing. So, a free lease? Why is she entitled to that instead of helping out with his expenses?

What’s curious is that finding your horse sweaty and improperly cared for was never resolved. Older lady got offended. Well, maybe she didn’t ride him that time? If so, did the trainer let someone else ride without clearing it with you? Something seems wrong.


It’s time to end her riding your horse for free. Or at all. Your wonderful horse is 24, enjoy him yourself. She is cutting into your riding time and has acted rudely towards you. I wouldn’t even entertain letting her show him.
And you can end it as nicely as possible, but don’t take it personally when she is once again rude. She has already shown you who she is.


Yeah. Its a business arrangement. You don’t have to be friends, just be professional.


Forgive me venting on your thread but…

O.M.G. As a half-leaser, every time I rode a horse that wasn’t mine, I would cool down, bathe, clean the tack, administer medications, and when the horses had soundness issues, would still come in and bathe, groom, and administer medications.

However, a few of my partial leases went sour, like when I was riding at a dressage barn, and the owner observed me hacking the horse said that the horse I was riding showed “tension” in the canter, and she complained to the owner, saying that I personally should not be allowed to canter this horse, which the owner agreed with. (So I ended the lease after that–I didn’t like being spied on, and had leased the horse as a w/t/c ride.)

The fact that this lady threw a hissy about brushing the horse, was rude about a perfectly reasonable request, and is also trying to avoid a perfectly reasonable lease fee that is almost certainly just being funneled back into the care of a old horse just grinds my gears.

For $200 bucks a month for a sane, reasonably sound old campaigner, I think you can find a better horse person.


It’s a privilege to ride. It’s a huge privilege to ride someone else’s horse. There is plenty of great advice above. That said, leaving my horse w sweat marks would infuriate me.


I’m also in the camp of ending the rides while you’re able to enjoy your horse yourself - find a way to do it ‘nicely’ but firmly.

“Hey Rider, I really appreciate all your help keeping my horse fit while I was unable to ride for various reasons. Now that I’m back I have the time to ride, and since he’s older I’d really like to keep his workload to just one rider. I know we had chatted about you using him more, but I do not think that works for my schedule at this time. Thanks again for everything, and of course if anything changes I’ll let you know!”

If you’d like, you could also talk to your trainer about allowing her to ride him in one lesson a week, but no more. Make that super clear with the trainer first, and then tack that on to the end of your discussion with the rider. Also make it clear there will be NO showing - I think you need a firm line in the sand with no grey areas or room for negotiation. One lesson a week (if you choose), and nothing else.

You’re being taken advantage of here, and a bit by your trainer as well. They’re getting a free lesson horse out of the deal, plus the income from the rider. Talk to both of the people here and pick a deal you’re happy with - you’re allowed to change your mind.


I think you just have to decide if you still want to share.

It is a good thing to have someone who is able to keep a horse going when you are unable to (sick or travelling). So that part is something to keep in mind because it sounds like this lady is the only person your trainer has to do that job for you.

I think before you confront rider you need to talk with your trainer and find out why this rider thinks them wanting to show your horse and them wanting more ride time is OK. Did this idea come from the trainer or the rider?

I also think that if this rider is just doing walk trot you can ride those days too with out doing any harm to Dobbin.

I do think you are being taken advantage of at this point though. Time to draw up a contract.


Just say “hey, it sounds like you want to lease again. Same price as last time. One-off days for shows and such will be $20 a piece. Let me know if you’re still interested. Thanks!”

People mistake your saying “he needs to stay in work” with “you’re doing me a favor riding him” like you should be paying THEM.


This is a great point


Everyone’s pretty much said it all. Your schedule was hectic, you needed your horse in partial work, lady needed something to ride. That situation worked until someone didn’t take proper care of the horse after a ride.

Now your schedule is back to normal and your horse really doesn’t need any extra rides, nor does he need to go to a show. Just tell the trainer and the lady that since you are back on schedule you’ll be the only rider again.

I wouldn’t let the trainer continue to use him for lessons, and definitely no horse shows. Don’t mention it now, but if your schedule gets to where you can’t ride him as much as he needs, then say, hey, I can’t get out as much as I want right now, and ask the lady if she could ride him for X number of days per week. If that would be short term you wouldn’t need to do any lease, it’s just a favor, win-win for you both.


I’ll just add that if someone has been in the horse world and they are 70, and the nastiest thing someone ever said to them is, “please hose off my horse when you ride him,” wow. I’ve had people question my IQ, humanity, and right to breathe air on this earth, as well as have my weight, sexuality, and ability/disability insulted and dirt thrown at me. I have been threatened verbally but not physically with a shotgun. And I am nobody, not some pro or big-time ammie. I do not think I became a better rider because of any of this, but I think this lady has issues.

My guess is that she is aware she is older and somewhat physically limited but is feeling insecure because of her struggles with the OTTB that is too much horse and was feeling sore/tired that day she didn’t hose the horse off.

I disagree a bit that a walk-trot lesson with a beginner, or what I assume would be Intro A and Intro B at a dressage show is no stress, especially for an older horse in the heat. It’s still stress, and you should be compensated and have just as clear limitations on how the horse should be cared for/ridden as a younger horse, as the owner, ultimately you’re picking up the pieces if he’s hurting.

I can see the benefits of having someone else ride the horse, but I think you need to have a talk with her, and how the two of you need to communicate. If she’d said to you that her arthritis was acting up and she was sorry for not hosing off the horse but she was in pain, I’d just her less harshly because at least she was communicating.


I want to clarify, I was not saying it was no stress for the horse to be ridden by this woman. I was simply saying that if there was a night that the OP wanted to ride and this woman already rode, her fit older horse should be fine with that.

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