Yes, I could see how it would come across that way...but leasing for PF is actually very common! Riders are only allowed to have one mount in each section, so many higher level junior riders that own multiple ponies still want their ponies to come to pony finals and get that experience, (sometimes to help for future sale purposes) but they need someone to ride it. That’s where the leasing comes in! On the USEF website they actually recommend leasing for PF if it’s your first time so you can get a feel for how everything will work, then next year go through the process of qualifying with your own pony. Obviously the lease price is more expensive for something already qualified, but you get the pony finals experience that everyone loves!!
that would be really selfish to just go to pony finals without going to all of the shows to make it to pony finals. you should earn to show there not just go and ride someone’s pony there when you did nothing with.