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WWYD awkward situation with lease rider

If this was in winter/early spring on a horse who hadn’t been clipped — or even in summer on a cushingoid horse with thick hair — just for what it’s worth, getting out sweat marks is not a small feat.


As a leaser myself, this sort of thing really grinds my gears. I adore “my” senior goober, but in a lease arrangement, love alone isn’t enough. I owe it to him and to his owner to always make his care and well-being my top priority. And if my desires/schedule/preferences conflict, he and his connections ALWAYS win out. Any special request I make is done well in advance, with an explicit note that “no” is always a valid and respected answer. With trainers, vets, farriers, etc., I always say “Here’s what I’ve noticed, but his owner gets the final say and I defer to her preferences.”

It sounds like this rider (and perhaps the trainer too?) thinks of YOUR horse as hers. It’s great that she adores him, but she’s making decisions and plans that aren’t hers to make. Having a backup rider who knows him is a useful and valuable thing. But that’s not worth being taken advantage of day-to-day, or leasing him out to someone who gets defensive when you have (perfectly appropriate) requests regarding his care.

If you want to continue some sort of arrangement with this woman, sit down with her and really talk it through. If she’s not receptive to your thoughts, maybe the relationship has run its course.


So you hose the horse off… or respond in a text, “I’m so sorry, it was too cold to hose and even after I curried and brushed, I couldn’t get the sweat mark off with grooming.”

@trubandloki It does depend on the horse, but when I rode a horse that age, the owner would only do two lessons a day if one of the lessons was a leadline lesson for a half hour and the other was a “real” lesson with me. And showing can mean a lot of standing around.


My ride is a grey who rocks a full, unclipped, unblanketed coat each winter. A cooler, a rubber curry, a tiger tongue and/or a cactus cloth are my go-tos. He may not be pristine at turnout, but he will be dry, fluffy, and itch-free. (Although he will promptly roll anyway.) There’s a visible difference between “well-maintained, but no, we’re not showing this afternoon” and “rode hard and put away wet.”

Aesthetic issues aside, I worry that someone who didn’t didn’t do a post-ride curry also skipped other vital care and checks of horse and/or tack.


I’d probably just say no to the lady riding said horse all together. She’s already shown you how she treats your horse with the sweat mark issue. He’s 24 and you are entitled to enjoy your horse. It’s not your job to provide the trainer with an appropriate mount for student.


Before we can give you any solid advice, I think you need to decide for yourself if you want a continued lease arrangement where you get $$, or if you want to resume being the sole rider of Dobbin. I could not tell from your post. Would you be happy going back to the former (paid) arrangement? Or did you want to end it? Since the former arrangement happened out of the blue, perhaps the rider feels sorry for her knee-jerk reaction, misses riding Dobbin, and wants to go back to how things were?

For now, yes, the rider is getting a good deal riding Dobbin for free. If you decide you wanted to go back to the former arrangement, now is a great time to lay out your terms. Think about what you want them to be, if you want to go back to leasing Dobbin. If not, say “hey Suzie, thank you for riding and taking care of Dobbin for me while I was out with surgery and then traveling. I’m ready to get back into the full swing of things with him, but I will let you know in the future if he is available to be ridden.”

Regarding the sweat-marks – is it at all possible that she did appropriately curry/brush/hose/whatever, and felt insulted by the insinuation she didn’t care for him properly? I always curry my horse if he is sweaty, but I do from time to time see the ‘saddle marks’ from the dried hair the day after. Since I am the only one that rides on the property, I know that it’s just how the hair dried after being curried. There are some things I would terminate a lease over, but the visual residue of sweat isn’t always indicative that the horse wasn’t properly cared for after. Just something to consider!


This is enough. Without any of the other considerations, this is enough. Your horse, your time, your rules. Just end the “lease” and use in lessons. Make it clear to your trainer that he’ll only be available for use in lessons when you’re out of town or out of commission. Not available to lease, not available to show.


Thank you for saying this so well. I had the very same thought.
Sometimes no matter what you do, the next day it looks like you did not do enough even though when you left you thought you had done a great job.

I also agree with the point that you simply need to decide what you want to do, because it is not clear here exactly what that is.


Agree with this. I don’t understand why the leaser woman didn’t text back some kind of response or explanation. You know, like an adult. It sounds like she ended the lease in a snit.

Then, after contemplating her OTTB— that she may never feel comfortable riding— she tiptoes back to riding the lease horse and possibly showing, but cleverly circumventing the lease fee.

Nopity nope nope.

She needs to pay the lease fee plus an additional per diem show fee, with the acknowledgement that your horse gets some days off after each show on her dime. You can be diplomatic, yet also firm and to the point. Present it as a contract that includes a thorough grooming after each ride. But do this only if you want to let this arrangement happen.

Don’t let this woman take advantage of you and your sweet horse.


I know sometimes residual sweat marks show up, so perhaps my response was too harsh. Honestly, though, I think those sweat marks look much different than the ones where someone gets off, does nothing to very little, and chucks the horse back in the stall.


The trainer is part of the issue. The trainer is getting a free lesson horse. The trainer is getting cash income from a person who can’t ride any of the younger horses. And maybe day fees at the show

It sounds like your horse is valuable to the lesson program. You can certainly say that you are pulling him from the lesson program now, but could make him available when you next leave town for a business trip.


OP - I would investigate this angle. It sounds like you trust your trainer, but this trainer is also the go-between betwixt you and the lease rider. As someone who as benefited from the kindness of others letting me ride their horses and and have been a leaser myself, to quit a lease over being offended about a very reasonable horsecare/grooming request is a red flag. Even giving her the benefit of the doubt, say someone else rode the horse that day in a lesson and not her, the very least I would except is some sort of response stating “i think trainer let student X ride dobbin that day, maybe student X forget to groom him. I’ll be sure to ask her about it and remind her next time I see her” or some such thing.

The fact that she gave up a well-priced lease in a fit means that she does not fully appreciate the nice situation she had. If she wants to ride more, she needs to some to you cap in hand, and take you out for a cup of coffee and explain why she wants to re-start the lease. The trainer should help you in enforcing this idea.

Your horse sounds like a wonderful steady guy, finding other riders who can walk//trot on him while you are gone should not be that hard of a chore for your trainer.

As others have said, don’t be afraid to draw a line in the sand and protect your riding time. Life circumstances change and now that you are fully available, you want to ride more. That is your right as an owner. Its great that this older gal wants to keep riding, but she needs to sell her OTTB and buy a more suitable, calm horse.


This is awkward, because you got what you needed out of the deal while you were out of the country, but you didn’t straighten out the status quo when you got back. She still thinks she’s doing you a favor (which may be how she colors her situation so that she “doesn’t offend” you by offering money. People come up with all kinds of justifications.)

You want to be clear in your head about what you are asking your trainer to do while you take breaks like this, as they may show up again. You have no idea what your trainer is saying to the leasor, how she phrased the situation.

I’d take the leasor aside and suggest that, now you are back in the country, IF you are happy to have her continue riding the horse, that you regularize your relationship. Use the excuse of her asking to show to do that, since that’s an obvious expansion of permissions. Then get her back on a lease.


I keep thinking of ways to make you and the older lady happy, but at the end of the day, its your horse.

If you want to have her ride and resume the lease you guys had, what about a month to month agreement? but only if YOU want to.

I would not let her take him off the property, but that sounds like its already been Ok’ed by you.

The horse is 24. He could change in a month, winter could slow him down a bit, things happen as we age and what if he can only do 3 rides a week. Then who gets them? You or her 2 days a week?

and yea, I agree that the trainer is getting a free packer for lessons. but that is between you and the trainer.


What would I do?

I’d stop doing favors for these people. No lease, no lesson use, no shows, no ‘extra rides’. After the lease relationship went south the first time, I would not have allowed this lady back on my horse. You don’t owe this lady free rides and you don’t owe your trainer free use of your horse for lessons. It’s not your problem that your trainer doesn’t have a suitable horse for her, or that this lady can’t ride her own horse. You are not responsible for subsidizing your trainer’s business or this lady’s hobby.

All that said, what to do now? Have a conversation with trainer and this lady together. Tell them that you are ending the arrangement and will be fulfilling all his exercise needs yourself from now on - he is no longer available for lessons or practice rides. No shows, either - if she wants to show, it’s up to her to find and pay for a suitable horse just like everyone else.

You don’t have to give a reason or make excuses for why.


I think you missed the part that the reason this woman started riding the OP’s horse again is because the OP was once again not able to ride her own horse so she asked the trainer to make sure the horse got rides on it while the OP was not doing it.

So the trainer and this woman were doing the OP a favor because the OP knows her horse does not do well if it is left doing nothing for an extended time.

And no, I am not saying that means the OP needs to continue allowing the horse to be used in lessons or to let this woman ride the horse. Just clarifying that the trainer and the rider woman did not just start riding the OP’s horse randomly.


Since the trainer also benefits from this woman’s use of your horse, IMO, the only way to solve the issue is to move your horse.


I think some of these suggestions are a bit over the top. No need to move, or be drastic, just set some boundaries.

Do you want to keep having the rider on your horse, or have him 100% to yourself? Start by deciding this, and move forward with an honest and frank discussion. I’m betting that the trainer isn’t quite on the same page as to OP’s desires, and there’s some miscommunication + taking advantage going on.

Do you still want to have this lady available to ride if you go on vacation? Can you spare one lesson day a week without impacting your schedule? Do you not mind having him used, just not for extra days and shows? It would be easy to allow trainer to use this horse for one lesson a week for the rider, and very clearly state that no more is on the table unless OP comes to THEM with an offer.


I didn’t miss anything. OP is back now, why is this woman (and the trainer) still using her horse without paying? Trainer might have been doing OP a favor by keeping the horse in work while she was out of town, but OP was doing trainer a favor right back to give her use of the only “lesson” horse in the barn that this client can ride. Without the horse, trainer doesn’t make any money off this client. There is value exchanged when OP is gone and needs the service, but now? She’s just being taken advantage of.


Thanks for all the advice everyone. I kind of already knew it, but it seems I just need to put in place some stronger boundaries with the situation as it is now.

I know it seems like barn owner/trainer is also in the wrong, but I really do not mind when she occasionally uses him for lessons. She really takes excellent care of my horse and the barn is perfect so moving is not an option. And I know it sounds weird, but her using him for the little kid lessons just feels different to me and I don’t mind it. The kids are small and hardly make him work. He just kinds of bops around and no one cares if his halts aren’t perfectly square or he drifted a little down the center line. The kids all love him and he loves kids and being spoiled. And the kid lessons are also during the day when I do not ride whereas the adult rider is in the evenings when I also wish to ride.

Also, some of you picked up that this former lease rider is a bit flaky which is annoying. The way it’s gone down now for the last month is she has her lesson on my horse say on a Monday, texts me Monday night hey I had a great lesson, can I ride horse again on Friday? I wanted to practice X thing we were working on in our lesson. I say yes. And then half the time, she will text me on Friday saying hey something came up, I can’t ride today, could I ride Sunday instead. And at this point I’m already at work-- if I’m going to ride, it’s going to be after work on my way home and I don’t have any of my riding clothes because I wasn’t planning to ride that day. And I’d already made plans to ride Sunday instead of Friday. So now no one rides the horse Friday. Very frustrating.

I’m planning to have a conversation with her and outline how things will work going forward. She can continue to ride him in her lesson on Mondays, but only Mondays and if she cannot make her lesson on Monday and wants to move it to a different day, that won’t work. Horse will not be available any other days for additional rides unless she wishes to resume her lease. In which case, we will resume a month by month lease of $200. And she needs to stick with two specific days of the week without constantly changing them. That sounds reasonable right?