There are a lot of horror stories in the world about leasing out a horse. People don't pay, or they ride your horse with twisted wire bits and draw reins without permission, or they teach your horse bad habits you get to spend months trying to undo.
I did not expect to put Halo out on lease, though I was open to the thought knowing I would be off for a month from my surgery. I didn't advertise her. The thought of weeding through the masses until I found someone with appropriate experience and goals seemed like a ridiculous task to undertake. As a young horse, she needs someone who is confident and experienced enough to handle her baby moments. Sometimes just keeping her in a straight line is like trying to herd squirrels through an open field. None of that is surprising when you consider that she's only 4, and I've only been riding her 2-3 times a week for about a year.
Also, while Halo is a pretty color, she's also hony-sized with no discipline-specific training. If I were going to lease her, I needed a rider with achievable goals, like working toward a lower-level dressage test or starting her over crossrails. I also needed someone who didn't mind that they weren't going to be riding a big fancy horse.
Boy did I get lucky!
Through a friend, I met Allegra, who happened to fit the bill perfectly. Her background is in eventing, but she also has natural horsemanship experience. Her approach is a good balance between the two, and she has been working to get Halo more comfortable with contact and more consistent in her gaits. She's also great about communicating with me regularly about any issues Halo has and how she is progressing.
While I've been out of commission I've given Allegra free rein to ride as much as she would like without any additional cost, so she has been going out every other day. I finally got to go out and see their progress last weekend, and I was very happy. Halo is starting to muscle up nicely with the regular work, and her consistency has dramatically improved at both the walk and the trot. She's more comfortable with contact and not sucking back behind the bit anywhere near as much as she used to. I took a video last weekend that hopefully Allegra will post at some point.
I get lots of fun picture updates like these:
Round pen at sunset:
Allegra has been doing a few things differently from me. She always rides with a dressage whip and is also using some very gentle spurs. Both have been a big help in keeping Halo between the aids and moving forward. After all, Halo's favorite evasions are popping her shoulder the wrong direction, stopping suddenly, or refusing to go forward. The extra aids are insurance that if Halo does not respond to the initial cues, Allegra can escalate the request to an order.
From what I understand (and she can correct me if I'm wrong), Allegra approaches Halo's issues by firstly working on forwardness, and then using mini-half-halts to encourage her to stretch down into the bridle. Halo's improvement has been tremendous, and I'm excited to get back on and work to continue applying what Allegra has taught her.
Overall, I have to say that I've been pleasantly surprised by the experience of having Halo out on lease, and I hope Allegra continues to work with her for some time to come. They are a great team, and I think the work is good for Halo. It's also a great learning experience for me - both the opportunity to watch someone else ride my horse, and also the ability to discuss how best to further her training.