Prospective horse owners may question the value of leasing a horse when they can buy their own. However, you may be surprised to discover the many advantages of leasing a horse, even if you already own a horse!
Leasing a horse is worth it if the lease agreement benefits both parties and is unambiguous and comprehensive. Leasing is a viable solution for many riding issues and is often better than horse ownership. Broodmare and stallion leases allow breeders to improve their breeding stock.
Sharing the cost and responsibility of a horse are the most apparent benefits of leasing a horse. However, there are many other reasons to lease a horse beyond the obvious!
Financial Benefits Of Leasing
One of the most apparent benefits of leasing a horse is the financial benefits, i.e., sharing costs.
Are You Sure Riding Is The Sport For You?
Hollywood and books have sold horse riding as the ultimate freedom, a magical partnership between man and beast, and the one place where heaven lies within the grasp of a mortal being.
However, it is essential to acknowledge that, for the most part, magic is scarce. Instead, you have to deal with a 1000-pound animal who doesn’t speak your language and processes things in a way humans struggle to understand!
Many people get lured in by the dream of riding and yet give up within a few months when they realize that riding takes hard work, dedication, and money.
Leasing gives prospective horse owners a chance to experience a slice of horse ownership without committing a considerable amount of finances to a sport they may choose to give up in a few months.
Upfront Costs Of Leasing Vs. Hidden Costs of Horse Ownership
Many riders resist leasing a horse with the argument:
“Why would I pay the upkeep costs of a horse, just so someone else can own it.”
Initially, this seems like a reasonable argument and certainly one I used when I was younger and less experienced with horse ownership. However, the years of horse ownership have caused a shift in my perspective.
The simplest version of a standard lease agreement states that a rider has the use of a horse for a specified number of days in return for a fixed monthly payment.
Most horse owners would fall to their knees in thanks for a fixed monthly payment that they could budget for. In reality, horses are excellent at draining your savings account and destroying your bank balances with their vet bills, new saddles, tailored diets, and other miscellaneous expenses.
Sharing The Cost Of Keeping A Horse
Owning and keeping horses is an expensive dream that can be made attainable through a lease agreement.
Lease agreements may be a full-lease, a half-lease, or a quarter-lease. The leasee’s financial contribution is directly related to the number of days they use the horse.
- A full-lease – the leasee covers all the horse’s monthly costs
- A half-lease – the leasee covers 50% of the horse’s monthly costs
- A quarter-lease – the leasee covers 25% of the horse’s monthly costs
Owning More Than One Horse
Horses are like smarties; it’s hard to stick with just one horse, and many riders unintentionally end up owning more than one horse.
Perhaps they have their old faithful who taught them to ride but is too old to be competitive, so the rider buys a young, more talented horse. Many of these riders are loyal to their first horse and don’t want to sell them but can’t afford to care for two horses.
The answer is leasing! Their old faithful can help another rider learn to ride and have fun but remain under the care of their former rider.
Time Benefits Of Leasing
Horses are a huge time commitment, and owners pressed for time have one of two options.
- Pay for a very expensive full livery and exercise rider
- Lease their horse
Leasing Enables A Work-Life Balance
In modern society, time is scarce, and most people have chaotically busy schedules
or other constraints limiting their riding time.
Reducing time pressures by leasing allows the owner to enjoy their horses without seeing them as another chore
to be completed. The leasee and leaser can work together to keep the horse fit and well-schooled without either party risking burnout.
Owners leasing horses due to time constraints and not financial reasons may be more willing to negotiate a reduced or even free lease!
Temporary Transplants Who Can’t Commit To Buying A Horse
Cars, trains, and airplanes have enabled people to move between cities and even countries with relative ease, e.g., students who choose to study abroad for a year or people who accept a 6-month work contract.
The semi-permanency of these contracts causes many horse lovers to avoid buying a “temporary” horse.
Leasing allows people to experience the joy of riding without the pressure of horse ownership. The leasee can leave, knowing that their lease horse will remain in the loving care of their original owner.
It is not just the migratory leasee that can benefit from a temporary lease. There are times in people’s lives when they need to lease their horses for a set number of months but don’t want to sell them.
For example, a woman may not want to ride during pregnancy but wants her horse to stay in work. Therefore, she leases her horse to an exchange student. Both the woman and student benefit from this temporary arrangement.
Solving The Dilemma Of A Mismatched Partnership
Riding is more than a sport; it is a partnership between two beings who choose to work together. Not all horse-rider pairings are smooth sailing, and leasing can be the perfect way to avoid some of the road bumps associated with a horse and rider team.
Beginner Rider With Rapidly Advancing Skill
Novice riders are unbalanced, unskilled, and unable to assist the horse in any way, which is expected. The perfect horse for a novice rider should be slow, a little dull to the aids, willing to work with the rider but also willing to ignore the rider if they feel the rider is being silly.
Many lesson horses have saved new riders from their own mistakes. These beginner-safe horses are worth their weight in gold but can be frustrating horses for more advanced riders.
As a novice rider advances and becomes more confident and technically correct, they will start enjoying more athletic, spirited horses.
Leasing a beginner-safe horse allows the rider to learn the basics of riding and then buy or lease a more advanced horse when ready for the next step in their riding development.
Growing Children And Short-Legged Ponies
Children grow at a shockingly fast pace, and it can feel like they outgrow their ponies at the same rate they outgrow their clothes! Unlike clothes, buying ponies a size too big can damage a child’s confidence.
Young riders who feel over-horsed and scared of their adult-sized horses are more likely to give up riding than those who happily zip around on their schoolmaster ponies. Leasing small ponies for little kids allows them to establish their confidence and skill in riding before moving onto bigger ponies and, eventually, horses.
Leasing rather than buying a small pony ensures that the pony goes back to its loving owners at the end of the lease, rather than being passed from home to home as children outgrow them.
Economical Method Of Improving Your Horse’s Schooling
Many people choose to lease their young or problem horses to experienced riders as an economical means of improving their horse’s schooling. Typically, these lease agreements are free but can be an expensive life lesson.
Schooling young horses or re-schooling problem horses is a dangerous job that can have significant long-term consequences if the rider is injured while riding. Asking a rider to take on the risk without compensation is not always a fair trade.
Many older experienced teenagers and young adults will happily jump at the chance for an opportunity to ride a horse for free. However, these riders must consider all facets of the agreement, including the fact that they are assuming a professional rider’s risk of injury without the financial reward.
Finding The Perfect Partner
Prospective horse owners need to remember that riding is a little like a marriage. There are many charming men and women, but some are better friends than life partners.
Choosing a horse to buy is a long-term commitment that can make you very happy or very sad! Taking the time to find the perfect partner is a worthwhile exercise in patience.
Find Out What You Want In A Horse
Few riders know what they want and need in a horse, even if they think they do! Many inexperienced horse owners and novice riders are attracted by big, flashy horses that may not be a good fit.
A nervous petite 5ft 1” rider who prefers to spend her time riding out on mountain trails may confidently state that she wants a 16.3hh palomino warmblood stallion. In reality, this horse is ill-suited for the rider’s stature, intended purpose, and capabilities.
This rider would be much happier if paired with a 14.3hh 15yr old safe-as-houses quarter horse gelding.
Leasing a horse allows a rider to “try out” different horses and find out what type of horse they enjoy riding and are capable of handling in and out of the saddle.
When the time comes to buy a horse, the rider will avoid the pitfalls of a “fantasy horse” and get a horse they will genuinely enjoy.
Try Before You Buy
When buying a horse, a rider should ideally ride the horse. However, it is challenging to determine whether a horse and rider are a good match during a one-hour test ride.
Lease-to-buy options allow the rider to “try out” the horse for 1 to 6 months and gain a better perspective on their compatibility. Leasing a horse before purchasing them is the most effective method of avoiding buyer’s regret!
Improve Your Riding
Leasing a good horse is one of the best methods of improving your riding. Leasing allows you to ride better horses than you can afford or learn from an experienced schoolmaster.
Ride A Better Horse Than You Can Afford
Many cash-strapped talented young riders will lease a better horse than they could buy. Leasing promising youngsters or established competition horses has numerous benefits for the rider:
- Develop confidence and skill at higher levels of competition
- Showcase their skills, improve their CV and professional prospects
- Learn the skills and subtleties needed to ride professional-quality horses
Learn From A Schoolmaster And Build Your Confidence
Life happens, and even skilled riders may lose their confidence due to a riding accident, life stage, or illness.
Leasing a bombproof schoolmaster has been the saving grace of many anxious riders, who cannot imagine a life without horses.
Whether the rider’s loss of confidence is temporary or permanent, leasing a bombproof schoolmaster is about recapturing the lost dream and remembering why you chose to ride in the first place.
A schoolmaster who patiently waits while a rider sweats their way through their terror and builds their rider’s confidence, one ride at a time, is a blessing and well worth the price of a lease.
Leasing a broodmare or stallion allows horse breeders to introduce new and desirable bloodlines and characteristics to their breeding herd without the necessity of buying the horse.
Leasing a breeding horse is perfect for:
- One-time horse breeders who want to breed a foal for themselves
- Small scale breeders who wish to improve their breeding stock but can’t afford a horse of similar quality
- For breeders who want to use the broodmare or stallion, but the owner does not want to sell
Disadvantages Of Leasing
There are numerous reasons to lease a horse and only a few reasons to avoid a lease; however, while few, the disadvantages can have a significant impact.
Most issues with leasing are due to:
- Contractual ambiguity and lack of communication
- Disagreements over the horse’s care, management, and training
- Injury or sale of the horse
- Personality clashes between owner and leasee
To avoid issues with leasing a horse:
- Have the lease agreement drawn up by a lawyer who knows the equestrian industry
- The lease agreement should be comprehensive and transparent, with both parties being fully aware of all clauses
- The contract should also cover the details relating to injury, i.e., determination of the responsible party, assignment of medical costs according to responsibility, the extent of care, and other aspects relating to the injury and possible short- and long-term consequences.
- The horse should be insured for third-party liability, medical expenses, loss of use, and loss of life.
- It is essential that both the owner and leasee are honest and upfront about their reasons for entering the lease agreement.
- The owner should be honest about the potential sale of a horse and ensure that both parties are aware of the notice period given in the event of the horse being advertised “for sale” and when the sale is made.
- Ideally, both the owner and leasee should like each other and have similar values and approaches to horse ownership and training.
Leasing a horse is a viable option for riders and owners who need to:
- Share the cost of keeping a horse
- Work together to reduce the time commitment required of either party
- Improve riding skill
- Ensure the horse-rider partnership is successful
- Help prospective buyers pick the perfect horse
- Improve breeding herds
Despite the advantages of leasing, leasing agreements that go sour will ruin the experience for both parties. A successful lease agreement is based on open communication and respect for each other and the horse.