To Lease Or Not To Lease?


horse lease

Follow these three tips for creating a worry- free lease arrangement.

The start of a new show season inspires many competitors to lease or purchase new horses. If you’re planning to lease your horse, following the steps will help minimize the risks and maximize the benefits for both you and your horse.

What’s In It For You?

Income – In many lease arrangements, the lessee pays the owner a monthly fee, and you can use those funds to help offset the cost of keeping your horse.

Grooming, exercise, and training – Maybe you’re not getting out to the barn every day, and your horse is climbing the walls of his stall. Maybe his mane looks like a Thelwell pony’s, but you don’t have the energy to do anything about it. Perhaps your horse is green and you don’t have the time to finish his training. Depending on your lease agreement, your lessee may be able to help serve these needs.

A new horse buddy – Tired of that glazed look on your spouse’s face whenever you mention your horse? Depending on the relationship you have with your lessee, you may have a companion to go with you to horse events and take pride in your horse’s progress.

Consider The Risks

Training – Each person rides differently and brings a different set of beliefs and experiences to the barn. If your lessee’s riding and training style is different from yours, it could undermine some of your own efforts.

Injury to your horse, your property or others – Even if your lessee is an experienced horse person who treats your horse with lots of TLC, accidents will probably happen. To help minimize them, make sure your lease agreement spells out any specific care your horse requires and who will be responsible if anything happens to him, your equipment, the lessee or anyone else.

The lease may ultimately not work out – Even if you follow every step in this article, your lease arrangement might not end up being long term. Maybe your lessee loses interest or has to move away from the area. Maybe you suddenly have more time to ride or want to send your horse away to a trainer. The lease agreement should cover all the circumstances under which either party might terminate the agreement, and how the termination should work.

Top Three Steps To Success

1) Weigh the risks and benefits. Before leashing your horse, evaluate your goals for you and your horse. Consider carefully what you have to gain and lose from a lease arrangement. Plan how you want the lease arrangement to work and consider carefully whether your plan is realistic and practical. As a planning tool, you may find it helpful to write down your goals and the key points of the lease arrangement.

2) Be picky about who leases your horse Your lease relationship can be a valuable partnership that benefits you and your horse – or it can be a nightmare. Just like selecting a roommate, you can control some of the risk by choosing your leasing partner carefully. Ask them lots of questions about their experience and what they want from the lease arrangement. Make sure they understand exactly what your expectations are for the leasing arrangement, and determine whether your expectations match up with the lessee’s goals and experience.

If the lessee will be riding your horse, make sure you see him/her put your horse through his paces, noticing whether or not your horse seems happy with his new rider. If the lessee will be taking your horse off your property, schedule a time to go and inspect his/her barn before you agree to lease the horse.

Don’t be afraid to ask for references that include veterinarians and farriers, and actually call them (don’t assume all references are good; you’d be surprised how many people don’t take the time to check their own references before they give them out!). You may even want to run a credit check to avoid leasing to someone who will not pay you.

You may also wish to build a trial period into the lease agreement so that it’s easy for you to cancel on short notice if things don’t work out from the beginning. Don’t worry about offending any potential lessees. Experienced horse people should understand your need to take these precautions – if they give you a hard time at the interview stage, imagine what they would be like as lease partners! Trust your gut feeling about who would be best for you and your horse.

3) Put your lease agreement in writing. Unless you put the entire lease agreement in writing and have all parties sign it, you will have nothing to prove what your agreement is later if/when trouble arises. If you are leasing to or from a friend, having a good agreement in place will go a long way to help preserve your friendship by preventing misunderstandings. For example, what happens if your horse goes lame and can’t be ridden – does the lessee still have to pay the lease fee? Can the lessee take the horse off the property, and if so, who is financially responsible if the horse injures himself in the trailer on the way home?

Your lease agreement should be comprehensive, addressing every element. Equine Legal Solutions’ website, equinelegalsolutions.com, offers several different equine lease agreement forms for your consideration. It’s not expensive, and can save you a lot of stress and heartache down the road.


Rachel Kosmal McCart is the founder of Equine Legal Solutions, P.C., a law firm dedicated to the horse industry. Equine Legal Solutions offers a full range of legal services for horsemen, from business planning and transactional work to litigation. Its website, equinelegalsolutions.com, also features a wi de selection of ready-to-use equine legal forms. A graduate of Duke University School of Law, Rachel has 15 years of experience as an attorney, and is licensed to practice law in California, New York, Oregon and Washington. Prior to specializing in equine law, she practiced securities law at major law firms in New York and Palo Alto, California as well as in-house at Intel Corporation. Rachel is a lifelong horsewoman and shows American Paint Horses at a national level.

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