The three most important considerations when leasing a horse are:
1) finding a horse with a good temperament
2) choosing an animal whose capabilities are compatible with your immediate goals
3) having a veterinarian check the horse thoroughly for soundness problems, for a lame horse will waste your time and money
I put temperament at the top of the list because a horse with a good attitude makes for safe and fun riding. The capabilities of the horse may not be up to your goals in years to come, but in a lease situation, it is fine if the animal is only suitable for your immediate goals. You can always lease another horse if your abilities surpass the current one. (A “good temperament” includes a not only a level-headed horse, but also one that is not known to have vices, such as stopping in front of fences, rearing, bolting, etc.)
The specific lease arrangements vary according to the worth of the horse. For example, if you are leasing a fairly old horse, then the owner my only require that you pay for insurance for the animal and absorb all of the fees attached to the upkeep of the horse, such as board, shoeing, and vet bills. If the horse is younger than ten years old or is a horse with a winning record, you’ll probably have to pay a lease fee as well, especially if you’ll be showing in recognized horse shows or events. A typical lease fee for the span of a year is 1/3 the value of the horse; but in cases of exceptionally successful horses—such as those that have performed well in hunter seat equitation finals—the lease fee can be thousands of dollars per day.
If you’ll be showing in classes sanctioned by the United States Equestrian Federation, you’ll need to register the lease with the USEF. The following information appears on the USEF website regarding lease registration:
GR1108 Lease Registration
1. The Federation encourages all lessors of horses competing in Federation competitions to register the lease with the Federation. A recorded horse must be shown under a lessee’s ownership provided an official lease is registered with the Federation.
2. For points to count with respect to any recorded horse at a Federation competition, such agreement or lease registration form (provided by the Federation) and fees must be received by the Federation office on or before the first day of such competition. The lessee becomes the bona fide owner of the horse for the period of the lease (except for Owner classes) for Federation award purposes. The horse must be entered in the ownership of the lessee and must be shown in accordance with GR1110.
3. To be official, a certified copy of a lease agreement or a lease registration form must be submitted and registered with the Federation and must be accompanied by the required fee. The Horse Lease Form which lists the fee can be found at www.usef.org. Either document must contain a start and end date and be signed by the lessee and the lessor. If a lease is not renewed within 30 days of its expiration, a later renewal will require an additional fee. The lease registration with the Federation will then be effective the day the renewal is received by our office.
4. A written statement of termination must be submitted signed by the lessee and the lessor if the lease is terminated before the end date stated in the lease registration form.
5. The Federation does not accept agent signatures.
6. For measurement purposes, the lessor must be an active Federation competing member in good standing at the time of measurement.
Anna’s Note: The reference to GR1108 is the current number of the rule that covers leases in the USEF Rule Book. However, the rule numbers change often, for as new rules are added, the number of every rule that follows in that section is affected.