Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Lesson vs. Lease Debate

Okay, I have a question for ya'll..

I've been "off" riding for nearly a year now and would like to get back into the swing of things but cant decide which would be better....

If I have $400 a month to dedicate to my "horse budget" is it better to spend those dollars on:

10 one hour lessons a month at $40 a lesson.


Free lease a horse and have unlimited use for the cost of the $400 a month board.

Usually I'd say that lessons is the best way to go but...

When you have been off for as long as I have I don't need to be spending as much time working on how I am riding so much as redeveloping my riding muscles, coordination, balance, feel, etc. ...which I think comes from hours spent in the saddle.

Last year I took lessons when I wasnt really riding fit and I found it really frustrating! I knew where my legs were suppose to be but I didnt have the strength or coordination to keep them there.

If I do lessons I'd only riding eight-10 hours a month instead of up to seven hours a week.

There are other aspects of leasing a horse (other than the hours) that make it a more appealing option than lessons alone, like getting to ride with friends, riding at my convenience, spending time at the barn and forming a bond with "my" horse.

This is the wall I constantly run up against.... Taking lessons and owning/leasing eats up more money than I am willing (or able) to spend. But neither alone satiates my wants/needs as a rider and horse lover.

I'm a big believer that the only way to get a horse truly broke is through a lot of miles and wet saddle pads. I also believe that a lot of wet saddle pads does not make a broke horse. The answer lies somewhere in the middle, in combining both long hours under saddle and the correct application of practical knowledge.

Logic dictates that the same can be said for the rider. How many trainers do you know who spent ten years taking lessons and then decided to become a professional trainer? I don't know of one. All the trainers I know apprenticed... which means that they put in the hours and hours of riding while learning and practising the practical knowledge as they went along.

I know people who have hours and hours in the saddle but cant ride well at all and those who have been taking lessons for years but fall off if their horse so much as farts! (Not really but you get my point...neither are very good horsemen.)

I realize that there are other options...some kind of middle ground but, it you had to pick one or the other, which do you think would benefit my riding the most:

10 hours a month of instructed riding in an arena?

20+ hours a month of uninstructed riding in various locations/situations?


  1. I think it depends on how confident you are in YOUR abilities.
    Almost all of us could benefit from some lessons. However if you are a decent rider then *I* would opt for the lease. At least until you are "riding fit" as you stated. Then maybe try to add in some lessons.

  2. How about a partial share board/lease, with lessons? If you did a half share board, you could ease back in my riding half the time and also have some lessons.

  3. You could split it- lessons for a bit to get back in the swing of things, and then the free lease/ board....

    just a thought...

  4. I guess it depends on the horse you would be leasing... The lease option is probably the best if you can find a good horse and just get some miles in and get yourself back into regular riding.

    Too bad you couldn't find a place that does a lease with lessons as an option...

  5. Lease and find $40 for a lesson a month. Or partial lease - although that never worked for me. I was always running into schedule problems.

  6. If lease or lessons are the only options, take the lease and fit in an odd lesson or so, and get all the free help you can from other riders.

    It will be excellent if you have an excellent and broke horse.

    And use that lease to ride, and ride and ride A LOT.

    Buck Brannaman made a comment about riding, "Ride the hair off them when you can, and hope it makes up for the times you can't ride.

    I have an excellent broke arab mare that the kids ride but she stands around most of the time.... I dont need to ride her and have 2 others that need riding and a 2 year old ready to start....
    care to commute to oregon for lease?

  7. I would say to go with the lease.

    You seem to have a very firm understanding of what a horse needs and what you want to accomplish. While I do understand people wanting and needing lessons. I think you are at a point where you need to just get on and ride. It's time to apply all of that knowledge you have.

  8. I agree with Cowgirl Rae. Lease, take the occasional (or monthly) lesson, and get help from other riders around you that you respect and trust. The hours in the saddle will get you riding fit faster than just the lessons alone.

    I also have a half-arab mare that needs more riding time. So, if you decide to commute, Chelsi, you'll get your pick between Rae's horse and mine!

  9. It depends on how long/much you've ridden in the past. I think a lot of it is like riding a bike and once you're fit and comfortable enough, it will start to come back. Definitely sounds like if you have to choose one, the lease is the better option. You can supplement your learning with books and videos for now and eventually add in a few lessons here and there. Make sure you have them videotaped so you can reference them during breaks with no lessons.

  10. I think you've already made your decision. Your self debate argued very strongly for leasing, while the reasoning for lessons left me thinking 'leasing.. duh!'

    But, the half leasing and lessons options is a great cohession of two really good ways to get up to the level you want.

  11. I would say it's up to you to know what you really want to do and feel most comfortable with.

    If I had to make this decision I would probably go with the lessons for a month and see which horse I wanted to lease. Then when I was ready for a lease agreement and ready to ride on a steady basis, I'd know which horse I got along with the best and had the most fun with.

  12. I vote lease! And if it doesn't work out you can drop the lease and switch to lessons instead. Good luck!

  13. I think you should lease!! My sister did that with her boy, and she ended up buying him. I think she found out she fell in love with him, while she leased him. It worked out great for her.
    I hope whatever you decide to do, works out great!!

  14. What's the horse like? If it's a healthy, "good ole boy or girl" I say take the horse. A seasoned horse can teach you a lot.

    If the horse is green and in need of training, it will probably frustrate you and possibly take a lot of the fun out of having "your own horse".

  15. i'd do the lessons til you feel more at home again.. and THEN go lease

    happy trails

  16. I'd say take lessons for a little while - here's why. 1 Even though you think (this was me) you know what your body should be doing it's helpful to have someone "clean up" your equitation and feel. Then move to riding a lease horse.

    The lease issue depends on the horse - I agree with the others if it's not the "right" horse it's going to take a lot of the fun out of it. Plus you'd have to be happy with the horse owner and share similar horsey philosphies - otherwise there is potential for train wreck.

    As for the fitness - I'm taking a lesson once a week and notice a clear difference in what I'm able to get my body to do from week to week. I'm also fairly fit off the horse which helps. What I find the most beneficial with the lessons is the instructor sees and corrects any mistakes I'm making because I don't have the muscle power to hold proper positions. Then I don't unknowingly develop bad habits.

    Do you have a lease horse lined up or do you need to find one?

  17. Ride Baby Ride! lol! Really, though, I'd say get back up in the saddle and do the lease. You're not a beginner, by any means. You need to get your body back in riding shape. So, unless you feel that you need some help with that, or just a confidance boost, then go for the lease.

    Hey, come on down to New Mexico for a while. I'll put you up in our guest room and you can ride my mare for free all that you want :)

    (I'm SO not kidding! :)