There’s a lot to learn when you start leasing a horse for the first time. The questions you ask and decisions you make when evaluating a horse to lease will hopefully bring forth a positive life enriching experience, but a few missed steps can ruin the fun of leasing a horse and could put you in danger.
Here are ten mistakes that new leasers should avoid.
1. Leasing a Horse because of its Color.
There is an oft-quoted saying that “a good horse doesn’t have a bad color”. The color of the horse is the least important thing to consider, but a lot of us take the pretty thing that bucks over the plain, yet amiable horse who we would surely be more happy with. While it is perfectly reasonable to look for a Roan, Paint, Palomino or Appaloosa, you shouldn’t dismiss more suitable lease candidates based on coat color.
2. Not Leasing older horses.
A lot of times an older horse means experience, not necessarily lack of speed or willingness to be ridden. Riders sometimes would avoid horses in their late teens and twenties, while such horses can be sound and ridden far into their senior years. A horses average life-span is now considered to be between 25-30 years, with many more horses living into their thirties. Moderate daily exercise is beneficial to a horse of almost any age unless they have a medical condition suggesting otherwise. An older horse can make a great first time beginner horse, suitable for refresher course or confidence building, and a reliable show or gaming partner that will fill in when you need it.
3. Not Testing the Waters.
Most horse owners want you to be successful with their horse and will ask to see you handle the horse before you’ll be allowed to lease. For beginners, they may recommend lessons to help you and your horse get off to a good start. It’s important to be upfront about what you know and don’t know.
Before you handle an unfamiliar horse on your own, ask the owner to perform a task, ride or lunge the horse first
Watch the horse move. Look for any signs of potential health problems, lameness, or a maligned attitude. Watch the horse’s head when it walks, excessive bobbing of the head might signal a problem. Frequent pinned ears or a swishing tail indicate other issues.
A basic rider evaluation includes catching the horse in the pasture or stall, halter the horse, lead the horse to the grooming area, tie the horse up, groom the horse, picking hooves, saddling, bridling and mounting the horse. Remember your helmet!
Advanced riders ought to try the horse in the discipline they wish to use him(with the owners permission of course) and ride the prospect several times before making a decision.
Look around the facility, would you be comfortable there?
4. Choosing a green horse.
What if the horse you were offered to lease appeared to have little or no training, but it was an amazing deal? Beginner riders sometimes make the mistake of leasing horses they’re not ready to ride. Don’t fall into this trap. Unless you know exactly what your doing leasing a green horse can be dangerous and a terrible experience that hopefully doesn’t end up in a huge wreck. Again, when evaluating your options, be open about your experience.
top ten horse leasing mistakes
Unless you’re an advanced rider ready to take on a project, avoid green horses or those that haven’t been handled for some time.
5. Misaligned Goals and Expectations between Owner and Lesee.
6. Not asking for a Trial Period.
Don’t be afraid to ask for a trial period before signing any long-term lease or agreement. Most owners want their horses and leasors to be happy. Just ask!
7. Not Signing a Lease Agreement or Contract.
When you find a horse that you like, put all the details of the arrangement in a written contract that both you and the owner will sign. If the owner doesn’t offer a contract, have an attorney draw one up for you or look at some of the choices available online. The agreement should cover the length of the lease and whether or not it’s renewable; terms of payment; what may or may not be done with the horse; whether the agreement includes use of the horse’s tack; who is responsible for illnesses, injuries, pre-existing conditions, veterinary and farrier (a person who shoes horses) bills; and on which conditions the lease can be terminated. If this is a shared lease, your contract should state which days you’ll have the horse and which days the owner or second lessee will be riding the horse. It’s a good idea to plan to renegotiate the lease on a yearly basis.
8. Signing a Lease Agreement Without Reading or Understanding its Terms.
The lease agreement is a legally binding contract between you and the horse’s owner. It specifies your rights, the owner’s obligations and the rules you need to abide by when being on their property. Chances are that the agreement is lengthy, or may contain some legal-sounding language. However, don’t make the mistake of not reading it and understanding the terms of the lease. When going over the paper work, read everything and always ask questions. Consider including in the agreement any questions that are answered, as well as obtaining theft and mortality insurance on the leased horse. By doing this, you increase your protection while the horse is under your care.
9. Being Oblivious to Barn Rules.
Discuss with the owner what is expected of you while being on the premises. Follow the rules. Make sure to pick up after yourself and your horse and treat borrowed tack as if it were your own.
10. Not asking for help when you need it.
If you aren’t sure how to groom or saddle up your horse, handle them while riding or on the ground, whether they are healthy and sound when there are signs of the opposite, trying to figure out these things on your own can be dangerous and nerve racking. In order to avoid unnecessary complications seek advice from an experienced person or consult with the owner as soon as possible, especially when having any horse-soundness concerns. Many owners would offer help if they knew you needed it and don’t expect you to know everything.