So You Might Want to Lease A Horse?


Dave and Cynthia ridingYou got to this web page most likely be seeing my ad or talking about someone about the two wonderful horses I lease out (in addition to my riding them) named Wastin Time and Don’t Laugh At Me.  The purpose of this page is to give you as much information as possible about leasing in general, and in particular leasing my horses. I tend to invest a significant amount of time with prospective leasees up front, so when it comes time to commit to a lease, the rider knows all she can about the horses and the environment.  In sum, this page does all it can to communicate as much information as possible before meeting me and my horses for the first time. It then ensures the process is as efficient as possible.



I have two really sweet, very versatile horses.  They are both Standardbreds and they do just about everything.  They are both very personable and docile.  They can be ridden in the ring, on the wonderful trails in the Arastradero preserve, and on the beach.  They both have jumped, though one more than the other and one can be driven too.  I have to say, that nearly every person that comes to meet them and those that have leased end up on the trails more than they may have first guessed.  This is somewhat because the boys are great on the trails, but moreover it is that the trails (about 13 miles in total) are right there, and are beautiful and accessible all year long. They have been ridden primarily in an English style since I have them, but they have been ridden Western and I have an appropriate Western saddle and they can be ridden that way as long as the riders post.



My horses are available for “1/2 lease”.  This means a rider can ride about half the days.  In reality, a leasee can visit and play with the horses every day if she wants.  For riding, you can typically ride up to 4 days per week, and more if the schedule permits, which it generally does.  Also, both horses are listed on the lease, so a rider could ride just one or the other, or ride both.  I ride both, and most leasees have ridden both, but the lease is flexible in that regard.




The lease price is $320 per month.  This is the price independent of how often you actually ride.  The price is very fair relative to owning and is frankly a bargain given the riding opportunities.  I am only interested in long-term leasees and therefore the initial lease term is for twelve months (it then goes month-to-month).  While I realize this is a long commitment, I typically will come out 2-3 times with a prospective leasee before signing a lease.  This gives the rider a chance to see and ride both horses in a variety of environments.  Most of the time I can size up a rider’s ability and maturity in a matter of minutes, so the 2-3 outings is primarily for the benefit of the rider to ensure there as a good fit. The price and term are non-negotiable.  Everything else (e.g. riding times, riding with others) is quite flexible and the lease itself is quite simple. Lessees start by paying the first and last month in advance.



First I ask that you carefully read everything else on this page, and go to all of the links.  You will then get a great sense of how wonderful my horses are, and the totality of Portola Pastures (where they live), the Arastradero Preserve (the adjacent trails), and all that is related to leasing.  So explore away.

Second, you should feel free to phone me (415-264-5929) or email me ( with any questions you might have where the answers were not available on this page.  I am very happy to speak with you.

Third, we set up a meeting where you can meet my horses.  You need to fill out a simple release form [click here to download form] and scan and email it to me (preferred) or bring it with you if you do not have scanner access.  See the section below about our FIRST MEETING to know where to park, what to bring, etc.





As mentioned in the ads, I won’t just lease to anyone.  I tend to be pretty picky about who leases my horses.  From a horse experience perspective, my boys are fine with beginners, but in general, beginners are not equipped to handle the other aspects of leasing related to the non-riding aspects of riding.  Proper tacking, grooming, and knowing what to do when things don’t go right are important “ground skills” that are generally not on the beginners resume.  So I generally seek someone with a decent amount of riding experience.

As important as the experience is the overall maturity level of the rider.  The best leasees are those that are responsible adults that are good communicators.  Since we work on a base schedule, use of the phone, text and email is important to communicate changes in advance when known and last minute so I know when there is a scheduling issue.  Good communication also allows other riders know what each is doing, often creating additional riding opportunities. 

Finally, unless there are very unusual circumstances, I won’t lease to a minor.



Portola Pastures has three or four capable trainers in residence there.  I typically will recommend one or two based on the riders needs and my horses can be used in lessons on the property.  In addition, so long as a trainer is approved by Portola Pastures management, a rider can bring in her own trainer if so desired.  Group, semi-private and private lessons are available.




Leasing with me has most of the benefits of ownership without the risks.  Owning a horse is costly.  Excluding the initial price of a horse, my horses cost me about $700 per month each to keep, and that excludes anything special like tack, equipment or any extraordinary vet work.  The lease cost is fixed and there are no “gotcha’s”.

I have lived in the Palo Alto area since coming here in 1981 to attend Stanford Business School.  I have been in the same home in Palo Alto for over 20 years and have no plans to move.  I am committed to my two horses for life, so they will not be moved and will not be sold.  This predictability is a key benefit of owning, but in this case, the benefit exists without owning. 



I provide all of the tack and everything one needs to ride that is related to the horse.  I have a large tack shed where it is all kept, right next to the horses’ stalls.  If a rider prefers using her own saddle, I allow that provided I make sure that the saddle fits my horses properly.  There is room in the shed for personal items that riders use (e.g. helmet, chaps, and change of clothes).



Both of my horses are Standardbreds.  As mentioned, both are very docile, friendly and extremely versatile.  They also have distinct personalities.  Here is a little more on each of these two.

Born in 1999 and a direct descendent of Electioneer.  If you have been to the Red Barn at Stanford, Electioneer is the large brass statue at the entrance to the Red Barn.  Leland Stanford acquired what is now the University as a Standardbred breeding farm in the late 1800s and he was the largest breeder in the west with 700 broodmares.  Were it not for Standardbred (harness) racing, Stanford University would not exist today.  Wastin Time raced from ages 2 to 10 and has been retired since.  He is a “professional” in every sense of the word. Read all about the connection between Leland Stanford, motion pictures, a murder mystery and Wastin Time [Click here to read this interesting article].

You can see his old work ethic in the round pen [Click here to see video] as you can sit in the middle and read a book while he trots or canters around you.  “Waste” jumped some, but when I jumped, it was primarily Don’t Laugh At Me.  He even was jumped side-saddle in a show (and took second amongst regular jumpers!).  He is perfect on the trails, in the arena, and really in all environments.


Born in 2004.  “Laughers” is an exceptional personality.  He has of course trailed all over the place (as has WT), but what he lacked as a good race horse, he has more than made up for in everything else.  I have jumped him up to 3’ in competitions, though I have not done so recently.  He has been on hunts, hunter paces, hunter chases and done cross country.  He has even appeared in one dressage schooling show soon after he retired from racing (he retired at age 4).  He is very “oral” – that is he does all kinds of things with his mouth and loves to use it to fetch [Click here to see video] and he loves to have water squirted directly into his face [Click here to see video]

RIDING FREQUENCY – as mentioned earlier, riders typically ride up to four days each week, but there is opportunity to ride more as well.  We use a “base schedule” where each day is divided into am and pm, creating two theoretic riding “slots” per day for each horse.  This schedule is available on line so all riders can see what others are doing.  We also use this to post vacations and other planned missed days.  There are many more slots than riders ride, so in nearly all circumstances, riders can ride when they want.

When things are just right, there are 3-4 half leasees, so if you do the math, the horses go get out once per day, and some days get out twice.  I always get my horses out daily and on average, there are only 2-3 days each year where they don’t get out at all.  Even in the rain and if riders don’t ride, I will round pen or walk my horses.



The horses board at Portola Pastures.  Each horse has a 12 x 12 stall and a 12 x 24 piped paddock.  They live next to each other.  The facility has a flat arena (though you can do some jumping there), a jumping arena, a square and round pen, and a turn out pasture.  It is important to understand that the facility has no power and therefore no lights.  My tack shed is lit (solar powered).  Obviously then there are less daylight riding hours in the dead of winter.  During that time, I personally shift my work schedule early and ride at day’s end.  Others ride less and/or augment weekend riding.  Others will ride in the morning.  While it would be ideal to have a lit and covered arena for winter evening riding, often such facilities are crowded.  Either way it does not exist at Portola Pastures. 

There are about 150 horses at Portola Pastures in pasture and in stalls.  So there are plenty of people to connect and ride with.  It is also quite common for my leasees to ride with one another or with me. Here is link to the Portola Pastures website: [Click here to see website]


Pearson-Arastradero Preserve is a beautiful mixture of rolling savanna grassland and broadleaf evergreen forest. It varies in elevation from 275 feet in the northeast to 775 feet in the southwest. Wildlife abounds on the preserve and it is not uncommon to see deer, bobcats, coyotes, and many varieties of birds. Each area of the preserve has something different to offer, whether it is a view of the bay, a quiet walk through the grasslands, or a snooze by the lake.  Trail riding is super here on the Preserve. [Click here to see a three-minute video of what a trail ride is like on one of my horses].


I encourage you to look at the Preserve's website [Click here to see website] and look at a satellite view of the Preserve and Portola Pastures (On Google Maps, punch in 1600 Arastradero Road Palo Alto, CA) to see how close everything is and to see the roughly 13 miles of trails.



Off the property, I take my horses up to Windy Hill, about a 15 mile round trip.  You should Google that as well.  One can ride there on trails that go throughout neighboring Portola Valley.  At the top of Windy Hill, one can see the Pacific and the Bay and there is a nice picnic area where we usually rest the horses and eat lunch or a snack.  I do this a few times each year.



Also a few times a year, I rent a friend's truck and trailer and take the boys to Half Moon Bay for a beach and trail ride.  They love the sand and the ocean and riding on the beach is a real treat.  The sand is deep, so they horses get a good workout and even when galloping, there is essentially no hoof noise!  As super and convenient as the trails are in the Preserve, the beach ride makes for a nice change of pace. [Click here to see video]. [Click here to see a July 2014 - with background music].



Portola Pastures is not a fancy training center so riders are responsible for grooming and tacking up the horse before riding and properly putting away equipment and grooming the horse after riding.  Also, while hay is provided and fed by the barn staff daily, I supplement the feed with a bran mash which the last rider of the day feeds the horses (about 5 minutes of time).  Also, my stalls are cleaned every morning by a stall cleaner, but I do ask riders “police” the stalls (basically pile up messes in the back of the paddock) when they are done riding so the horses stay cleaner when they lie in the shavings.

During the initial “get to know you period” before a lease is signed, and usually for the first few rides afterwards, I review the tacking and related items with each rider.  In addition, I have a “Care” document that reinforces what we go over so riders have a reference if needed.


You should use GPS to get you to Portola Pastures – 1600 Arastradero Road, Palo Alto, California.  When you arrive, you drive up the driveway to the top of the first hill where you will see a round pen on your left.  You will see other cars in the vicinity.  Park there.  When you exit your car, you will see two rows of stalls behind you, on the downward slope of the hill you just drove up.  There is a crushed-stone driveway between the two rows of stall.  Walk down that driveway and you will see my stalls on the left with the horses’ names on white and blue placards clearly visible.  If you don’t see me, you should phone me upon arrival at (number is also on the stalls).

What to bring?  You should wear breeches or whatever you wear for riding along with any chaps or half-chaps you wear, normal riding boots (if you wear them) and a helmet.  If you don’t have a helmet, I can provide on for you but you will need your own eventually if you lease.  Every rider should have a helmet anyway.  Finally, make sure you bring the release [Click here to download release] if you have not already sent it to me by email.


Below are some links to video to get some better insight into the horses [Click on the links below to see videos]

Riding and Showing Videos


Racing Videos