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How to Think Like A Horse: The Essential Handbook for Understanding Why Horses Do What They Do

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- Free Leasing A Horse - Is It Really Free? -

By Cheryl Seales

Several years ago we decided to enter into a free lease agreement with a woman who advertised that her aged horse was bombproof and suitable for an "absolute beginner" This suited us because we were absolute beginners and we wanted an affordable and safe way for our daughter, who was horse crazy, to learn about horses. It seemed perfect. A requirement of the agreement was that he was to be left stabled where he was, so, as we had no where to put a horse anyway it seemed like a perfect situation.

We went over to see the horse and he was beautiful...we fell in love with him (as his crafty owner no doubt knew we would) A deal was made. She threw in the bait and reeled us in good and proper. To begin with it seemed fair enough that we buy the hay...after all our daughter would be learning a lot of valuable information from this experience. As time went by, we were informed that we would have to pay for the dentist and farrier as well (we did).

We were by now, willing to do anything to continue our relationship with this beautiful old ex racehorse. Especially seeing as it wouldn't be too long before our daughter was able to ride him...well...as soon as he was over his temporary lameness that was. In the mean time, my daughter got to work tirelessly cleaning up after the old fellow (and his owner's other two horses as well). I know you are probably thinking things like "idiots" "suckers" etc. however, please understand that as beginners we weren't aware that this wasn't how it was meant to be. We thought that we owed her a debt of gratitude. We wanted to be a part of the horse world SO much but had neither the funds nor the dwelling nor the experience to even entertain the idea, so we just did what she wanted and for a long time even looked up to her for her knowledge and experience.

As agreed, we were buying the hay (she told us it was $15.00 a bale) We always gave her the money and she picked up the hay. What we didn't know was that we were also supplying the hay for her other 2 horses as well. She was charging us $15.00 a bale and buying it for $5.00 a bale. Keep in mind that this "free lease" was now costing us around $60.00 per week as she was also charging us $30.00 for stabling (we found out that she had a deal with the property owner and she got a discount because she had 3 horses stabled there...stabling for 3 horses was costing her $30.00 per week...yep we were paying for all her horses...AGAIN.
One morning she called our house to inform us that the hinges on the horse's stable needed replacing and (like the fools we really were at the time) we went down to the local rural supplies barn and bought lovely strong hinges (another $40.00) and then my husband fitted them. Meanwhile our daughter was still cleaning up poo, cleaning the stables, changing the water daily and still no riding.

We started to become a little suspicious when she wouldn't allow us to bring anyone to see our horse. She became very insistent that we did not have any conversations with the stable owner either (This was because he didn't know that we were leasing the horse in the first place...if he did she would not have had her discount on stabling any more) We weren't allowed to visit at all unless she was present.

Then we decided to buy the hay ourselves one day and discovered what she was doing. It wasn't long before we had her whole little scam worked out and found out that she'd done it before...in fact she did it all the time. As soon as the victims found out what she was up to and dumped her...she went fishing for a new sucker. Needless to say we learned a harsh lesson and were left feeling ripped off and red faced. As there was no written contract (another mistake) we weren't obliged to continue and we didn't.

Looking back on it, several years later and now owning 2 horses of our own, I feel very embarrassed to admit that we were so gullible, but while ever there are inexperienced people out there who are blinded by "horse love" and sly conniving people who are willing to take advantage of them to suit their own needs...I guarantee we won't be the last. Just take heed, make sure you are aware of all the rules and what will be expected of you AND GET IT IN WRITING. Don't get caught like us because honestly, there are many people willing to rip you off if you are willing to let them.


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