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Leasing a Stallion or Mare for Breeding
by Liz Kirmis, D'habi Arabians and Pat Hampton, Northwind Arabians

Why would anyone choose to lease a horse?  Is it a good idea to lease?  What are the pitfalls and benefits of leasing vs buying?  First, you may be able to lease the ideal horse, mare or stallion, when the owner will not sell. You may also be able to lease a horse that would be too expensive to buy, so let us look at leasing.

Leasing a Stallion

When deciding whether to lease a stallion for a breeding season, there are a number of questions you will need to ask yourself. Will leasing this horse be cheaper and more productive than simply breeding outside either through artificial insemination or live cover? Do you have mares that will only settle by live cover? There are mares that will NOT conceive through artificial insemination.  How many of your mares will this stallion complement? Do you want to use him only on your own mares or advertise him to outside mares?

Before committing to lease a stallion consider whether you have the facilities for a breeding stallion or whether he will have to be trailered to another facility for breeding. Having the experience or an experienced staff to handle a breeding stallion is a must. Another consideration is whether you are planning to use him on only your own mares, or are you going to advertise him to the public. If so, research the adverting cost and consider whether you have a safe place to house outside mares. If you don't have a working relationship with a good reproductive veterinarian, you will need to establish one, especially if you are going to seek outside mares for breeding.

Make a list of the costs involved with standing a stallion.  In addition to the usual feed, farrier, worming and vaccinations, there will probably be insurance required by the contract, and may be additional veterinarian costs. If this stallion to be advertised, how much will this advertising cost? If this stallion to be promoted, who is going to be doing the promotion (example: shows and performance events) and how will this promotion affect the stallion's standing for breeding to your own and outside mares?

Be aware that any advice given here is practical and learned from hands-on by those preparing the article. It should in no way be taken as legal advice. This is one time an experienced equine lawyer may be worth the added cost.

Should you decide the way for you is to lease a stallion, then begin by checking with the Breed registry for their regulations and forms and who pays any fees required by the appropriate Breed registry, who pays penalties if requirements and forms are not submitted on time, who signs for the foal registration application forms. How does the Breed registry view leases within their rules and regulations? Will that Breed registry require a copy of the finalized lease for their records?

There have been situations where a stallion was sold, the previous owner continued to stand the stallion at public stud taking the stud fees due for the stallion service; however, when it came take to register the foals, the new owner refused to sign the foal application forms because the stud fees collected were never forwarded to him by the previous owner. Be sure to obtain a copy of the registration papers for the stallion, front and back, and ascertain legally and/or from the Breed Registry as to who is the current owner and who is allowed to sign the foal application/breeder application forms. When leasing ALWAYS have everything in writing. Be sure the payment terms and length of lease are spelled out. Be especially careful about insurance requirements, which insurance company, copy of the insurance contract, and what and how to proceed if the stallion should die while in your care and control. Spell out the veterinarian costs and which veterinarian is acceptable to both parties. It goes without saying that contact phone numbers, email addresses should be named and kept current for all parties involved in the lease.

Make sure you have a breeding contract that is acceptable for you and for the leasing party. Supply copies of this breeding contract before the breeding season begins in order that any changes required by either party are made before an actual breeding occurs to either your mare or an outside mare.

A FINAL WORD OF WARNING: NEVER ASSUME THAT A PERSON IS HONEST AND THAT IT IS NOT NECESSARY TO CHECK AND COMPLY WITH ALL OF THE ABOVE. HAVING SIGNATURE AUTHORITY IS ESPECIALLY CRUCIAL.

Leasing a Mare

Occasionally you may have the opportunity to lease a truly outstanding mare.  If you do, there are a number of items to consider.  When you lease a stallion, it is pretty much a given that the stallion will reside with you during the term of the lease.  Mares may be leased either on the owner's site or in your care.  Let's examine both situations.

On site leases of some excellent mares are available by a number of breeders who are willing to be accommodating but are not willing to send their top mares off the farm.  If you like what the breeder is producing with his/her own stallions, it may be cheaper to buy a foal, BUT if you see the perfect mare for your stallion or for a breeding you have purchased, an on-site lease may be for you. The actual costs involved in an onsite lease and what you get for it will vary from breeder to breeder. There will generally be a fee for the mare, veterinary costs, and the mare's board and maintenance.  Some will want you to pay ALL veterinary costs for the mare, some will only charge you for veterinary costs related to the pregnancy. Insurance may or may not be required.  Find out what kind of live foal guarantee the breeder offers.  From your perspective you do not want to invest this money then come away with no foal.  From the breeder's perspective, he will not want to tie up his best mare for five years while a lessee tries to breed by artificial insemination to a stallion whose semen does not ship well.

If you lease a mare and take her to your facility, the veterinarian and maintenance costs are more clear: they are entirely your responsibility.  Insurance is very likely to be required. Once, again there is the issue of live foal guarantee.  If the lessor needs to reduce his herd for a few years, he may be quite liberal about this.  If he wants his mare back to his own program, he may give you only one or two years to get your foal.  Either way, it needs to be spelled out in the contract. Be sure the lessor either guarantees in writing that he will sign the registration papers, transfer of ownership form and designation of breeder OR that he gives you signature authority for the term of the lease. The latter is certainly the safest route as even the most honest lessor may die during the term of the lease or be unable to sign the papers for some other reason regardless of good intentions. It is prudent, before leasing, to contact the registry and verify that the person with whom you are negotiating this lease does own the horse in his or her name and has signature authority. Cost for the registration of the foal generally fall to the owner of the foal, in this case the lessee.  Do verify that the mare has her DNA on record with the breed registry, however, or the foal may not be eligible for registration without your incurring a great deal more expense.  Another thing to discuss and enter into the contract is what happens if the lessor wants to breed the mare back at your facility while your foal is at the mare's side.  The contract needs to clearly state that all expenses involved in that re-breeding shall be the responsibility of the lessor.

All in all, leasing can be a good thing, but you need to cover all the bases.  Consider all the angles and have a lease contract that covers them.  If you are leasing from a friend, this is even more true.  A misunderstanding of each other's expectations can damage a friendship as well as your pocketbook.

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