Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: New South Wales, Australia
Lease in the horse world doesn't just mean "hiring" a horse, it generally means taking full care of it and all the costs associated with it. It has the same responsibility of buying, except that there is no initial cost and of course you can give it back. In Australia, where I am from, the most common, well standard really, lease is a free lease. In this the lessee does not pay the owner anything and just assumes all costs for the horse. Generally the owner has little to do with the horse.
Although, judging by this board, in the USA many leases cost money, and the lessee must pay the owner a certain amount of money. This may cover board but it generally doesn't seem to.
Lessons are by far the best option for you. While Showjumping is not judged on "style", it definitely isn't all about the jumping. In fact, the jumping is really just the final "show". There is a lot of preparation required to get a horse and rider to that point. You might just think its about going around over jumps but its much more complex. The horse and rider must have established rhythm, collection and control. Many more "advanced" moves such as the flying change are required for showjumping.
For this reason the best riders seem to have a good foundation in dressage. If you haven't taken dressage lessons already I'd look into that. You want to have a real good walk, trot and canter, as well as walk to canter transitions and basic collection and extension before you start learning to jump. Once you have these skills down pat on a variety of horses then look at jumping.
If you have reached this level then look around for a good jumping school, but most English schools should be able to teach basic jumping.
In my experience, if you are leasing horses you don't have a wide choice. You sort of get what you can get. Often "good" horses aren't offered for lease. I'd try and get some good lessons and maybe through there you can find more horses to ride, or a potential lease.