Leasing a Horse

Find out how to lease an American Quarter Horse.

plain white show shirt black horse (Credit: AQHA)

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Lease agreements are designed to protect both the owner and the lessee of the American Quarter Horse, and as a business decision, it’s a very wise one to make.

A horse can be leased, according to the AQHA Official Handbook of Rules and Regulations, for two purposes: breeding or showing.

Take a look at a few more facts about leasing:

  • show lease has a one-year minimum, while a breeding lease has no minimum.
  • A lease has a three-year maximum. If the lease needs to continue on after three years, a new lease will have to be filed. If an AQHA lease authorization form is filed with a beginning date but no ending date, AQHA will automatically end the lease three years from the start date.
  • When you’re completing a lease form, remember to use the proper form. There is a form to lease a horse for breeding purposes and a separate form to lease for showing purposes.
  • For a breeding lease, during the lease term, the lessee or the lessee’s authorized agent signs a breeder’s certificate, stallion breeding report or registration application for leased horses. Meaning, if you lease a mare, you become the breeder and owner of the resulting foal if your lease dates correspond with the conception and foaling dates.
  • Conversely, Rule SHW240.6 states that the neither the lessee or the lessee’s authorized agent, in a show lease, may sign a breeder’s certificate, stallion breeding report or registration applications for the horse.

AQHA charges members a $100 fee to file a breeding lease  or a show lease.

More on Breeding Leases

In "Broodmare Leases: Considerations When Leasing a Quarter Horse," we take a more in-depth look into success stories from leasing broodmares, broodmare lease agreements, AQHA lease rules and insurance considerations when leasing broodmares. 

More on Show Leases

 Additional rules stipulate the ability for amateurs and youth to show leased horses.

  • The lessee must be responsible for expenses associated with the care of the horse, states Rule SHW240.2. Those expenses include boarding, feeding, routine farrier services and routine veterinary services.
  • During the term of the show lease, only the lessee and the lessee’s immediate family may show the horse. The lessee’s trainer may also show the horse during the term, but only in open events.
  • If a lessee qualifies the horse for and intends to exhibit the horse at an AQHA world show, a show lease must be in effect and on file with AQHA at the time that the lessee enters the horse into the world show and exhibits the horse at the world show.
  • A show lease may be terminated before the minimum one year requirement with a lease termination penalty of $1,000. Note that any points earned during the lease period will not count toward qualifying for any world show or year-end awards. (SHW240.4.1)
  • Be sure to file the show lease promptly when the lease begins as a lag in submitting the form may cause a delay in processing a back dated show lease form. 

Level 1

Competing with a non-owned horse is for Level 1 exhibitors. Back in July 2010, AQHA rolled out a new rule that allowed Level 1 competitors to exhibit non-owned and non-leased horses, that rule being Rule SHW245.7


Great news for Rookie exhibitors: Horse ownership or leases are not required!

Rule SHW252.2: Notwithstanding the ownership requirements associated with competing in youth and amateur classes, ownership of the horse is not required to participate in Rookie level classes. Multiple exhibitors, including the record owner, may show the same horse in any class at a show (assuming eligibility requirements for class are met), but not in the same Rookie level class(es) at that particular show. 

Terminating a Lease

As mentioned before, a lease will automatically expire after three years. However, if the owner or lessee wish to terminate the lease early, there are two ways to accomplish this.

  • A written notice may be submitted to AQHA; this form must be signed by both the owner and lessee and the termination date must be declared.
  • If a lessee is purchasing the horse, a transfer report that shows the change of ownership from the lessor to lessee will suffice in place of lease termination form.