We all know that owning, riding, and showing horses can be expensive at best and downright unaffordable at worst. But just because you’re working with a small budget doesn’t mean you still can’t enjoy some quality riding time. One of the most cost-effective ways to gain experience caring for your own horse, get ride time, and even show without incurring all the expenses of actually owning a horse is to lease.
I will turn 28 tomorrow (!) and only bought my first horse two years ago. Up until then, I leased. I can say that I learned A LOT while leasing various horses throughout the years and catching lessons whenever possible. So if you’re not in a position to buy just yet, don’t discount this option. That said, I’ve seen a few questionable lease agreements tossed around throughout the years, so I thought I’d share my two-cents on what to look for in yours.
While every lease agreement is going to be slightly different and can vary based on the personal preferences of the owner, here are the basic items that you need to discuss before signing anything.
Monthly Lease Fee
Before you get into the specifics, the first thing you’ll likely discuss is the monthly fee that you’ll pay in order to lease the horse. There are lots of different structures to these types of agreements, though, so just make sure you’re both on the same page about what it’ll cost you each month before moving forward.
Designated Ride Days
Some owners will designate certain riding days that you’ll have with the horse. For example, you might be free to ride on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, while the other days are reserved for lessons or the owner’s ride days. This is not an uncommon practice, but it’s definitely something you need to iron out before you agree to lease.
Vet and Farrier Bills
Typically, the lessee (the person leasing the horse) is responsible for half of all scheduled farrier and vet bills. Thus, if you lease a horse who gets a $40 trim every six weeks, you’ll be on the hook for $20 every six weeks. Similarly, if the vet is scheduled to come out for routine vaccinations, you’ll probably be asked to split the cost. That said, the lessee is not generally responsible for emergency vet bills. Otherwise, you might as well just buy your own horse. If the person from whom you are leasing is asking you to pay for emergency costs, you might want to consider other options.
If you’re headed out to a show with your lovely leased horse and plan to share him with the owner (i.e. you’re both going to show the same horse in different classes), you should expect to split the cost of hauling with the owner. If he’s yours for the day, you’ll probably be asked to pay his full share.
Leasing can be an incredibly rewarding and educational experience for any level of rider, but just make sure you do a little research about what to expect before entering into any official agreement.