Leasing a Horse: What It Is and Tips

Gloria has been riding horses and working in the horse industry for most of her life. She has owned her own horse and helped friends too.

Leasing a horse is paying an agreed-upon amount of money, usually monthly, in exchange to ride a horse a certain amount of times. There are several types of leases to choose from.

Full Lease

A full lease allows you to ride the horse as much as you want. You have full access to riding the horse daily if you wanted to. In exchange, you agree upon a contract which outlines your responsibilities. This includes up keeping the horse's physical and mental health, paying certain vet or farrier bills, paying the horse's boarding costs, or other expenses. The agreement is usually contingent on a monthly fee of the horse's boarding costs and part of the vet bills. This is the closest relation to owning a horse. The price ranges from $300–800 a month.

Half Lease

A half lease allots the person leasing certain amount of days a week, or month, to ride the horse. For example, some contracts let you ride the horse on Saturdays and Sundays. Usually, a half lease costs anywhere from $100–300 a month.

Lease to Own

This special type of lease is usually an agreed-upon amount of time before you must decide if you want to purchase the horse or stop leasing it. This is an option on horses that are offered for sale. Typically its a one month lease to own agreement. The price of this is dependable on the price of the horse.

Pros of Leasing a Horse

  1. You aren't solely responsible for the care and health of the horse: Usually, the owner is still in contact with you and aiding in the horse's overall care. The owner is there to answer any questions you have about the horse or any problems you may come along.
  2. You don't have to pay full vet bills: In most cases, the contract does not put you in charge of paying the horses vet bills, such as vaccines or farrier bills. Of course, this is dependent on the contract you sign. Some full leases do require you to pay these bills.
  3. You don't have the commitment of owning an animal: If you're not sure where life may take you or if you are still in school, this is a great way to have the pros of owning your own horse without the long term commitment of having a horse and continuing to pay bills for the horse even when life changes.

Cons of Leasing a Horse

  1. Legalities: Reading through and signing a contract should be a detailed understood process by both the owner of the horse and by the leasor. This is very important to protect yourself if anything happens to the horse so the owner cannot blame you. Horses are animals and can get injured, require massive vet bills, and special food. So it's important you go into a contract understanding whose responsibility it is to pay expensive bills that may arise from unforeseen circumstances.
  2. No say on the horses health: If you disagree with something the horse owner is doing to the horse, such as feeing it bad food, over working the horse, or other things, the owner has the say in what goes.
  3. Falling in love with an animal that's not yours! If the owner decides they don't want to lease their horse anymore, they are moving away, or other life events happen, you will lose that horse you've built a bond with.

Contract Examples

You can find a lot of lease contracts online. Here are some examples. Remember, they must be specifically dated and include the name of the horse, the owner, the person leasing, and the agreed-upon riding days and prices.

  • Lease Agreement 1
  • Lease Agreement 2

Leasing is a great option if you aren't ready for the commitment and price of owning your own horse. Working with the horse's owner is key to having a successful time leasing a horse. Lastly, have fun with the horse! If you enter into a lease and you realize it's not what you had in mind, you can always break out of it.

Liz Westwood from UK on December 15, 2019:

I know people who own horses in the UK. It's a costly business so I can see how leasing has advantages.

Should You Buy or Lease a Horse?

So your kid loves horseback riding lessons and now they want a horse of their very own, right? Should you buy or lease a horse? In this article, I’m going to help you with that decision by giving you some pros and cons. It’s a big move I know. Go ahead and take a moment to digest it. To be honest, the answer is different for every family and is dependent on where your child wants to go with their riding. Are they on the path to competing, have they physically outgrown the pony they are on, or are they just looking to have the responsibility of their own horse? Before jumping on the horse owner train, let me give you some tips from someone who has been there before…a few times.

Leasing A Horse

Going from taking weekly lessons to owning your own horse is a huge step. Instead of throwing yourself into something before you and your child are completely ready, why not consider leasing. I’ve been in this sport for 14 years now, and I’ve watched more people go through horses than you can imagine because they rushed into buying something before finding the right match. If you aren’t completely ready for the commitment of buying a horse, talk to your trainer about starting a leasing program. This gives you the opportunity to find a horse that your child is compatible with and can grow with. Leasing gives your child the responsibility and consistency they are looking for but keeps some of the pressures and financial burdens off of your plate. In addition, leasing doesn’t have to be a permanent decision. When your child wants to move up to higher levels or is looking for a new experience, you can start a new lease with a new horse. Once you and your child have the experience of temporary ownership that leasing allows, you might feel ready to own your own horse maybe even purchase the horse that you are leasing.

Owning A Horse

Having a horse of your own is a very large responsibility, but it’s also an amazing experience. It’s completely different from taking lessons or even leasing because you now have full decision-making capabilities. With that though comes vet bills, boarding, shoeing, tack, etc. which can get overwhelming very quickly. If that is something you are ready to take on, then absolutely go for it. Now is the time for you to sit down with the trainer and go over what everyone thinks is the best plan. I recommend not only looking for a horse that your child likes, but also one that they can grow with, in size and performance. You will be spending a lot of money, so it’s a smarter investment to get a horse that will be able to advance with your child, instead of one that will need to be sold within a year or so. If your childs horse skills increase, you could even sell the horse at an even higher value than you purchased it. I’m getting ahead of myself here but the point is, look beyond just the present when you are making your purchase. If you make a plan and organize your finances, it will not be as extreme of a change like picking any old horse would be.. Also, make sure you do a thorough vet check so you are fully aware of your horses health. People are not always upfront and truthful with problems their horse may have, so make sure your trainer and vet are involved in all steps of this process. Once everything passes, it’s time to have fun!

Affordable Ways to Horseback Ride

If you and your child are not in the financial position to pay for a lease or purchase a horse, have your child start offering their riding services to other boarders in the barn, when they themselves can’t come up and ride their own horses. Sometimes this can even be done for money. It may not give them the consistency of riding the same horse all of the time, but it will make them a very good rider. Being able to adjust to different horses on the spot is a very unique skill to have, and believe me, not everyone can do it. Only the best riders know how to use their skills across the barn, not just on their own horse. It’s a great way to learn and advance, without having the financial pressures of owning.

Whether you’re leasing or buying a horse for the first time, my biggest piece of advice is just being patient and taking your time. It’s a big move and commitment, so it has to feel right. Work with your child’s trainer, have your child try a lot of different horses, and do a full check-up before finalizing anything. And have fun with it!

Check out some of these horseback riding camps!

I often get asked by my clients what it means to lease a horse and why you would want to lease a horse rather than buy one. Hopefully, I can help you understand what it means and if it might be a good option for you.

What is Leasing A Horse?

Leasing a horse means that you are paying a fee for additional riding time on the horse of your choice.

Many horse owners lease their horses out to help with the expense of ownership. Sometimes they don't have enough time to ride and they want to keep their horse exercised regularly.

This can be a great option for some riders, a better one that ownership. For some, leasing can be a stepping stone towards ownership.

The Arrangements

Each horse owner will have their own arrangements for leasing. Both about financial responsibility as well as the amount of time that the leaser will be able to ride the horse.

Some horse owners lease their horses out for a set fee, and that allows the rider a certain number of days per week that they can ride the horse. This is the way I do it because my horses are used in lessons and can't be committed to a lease rider every day of the week.

In these sort of situations, like mine, the rider will pay a set fee for the lease and then have designated days of the week. In this case, there is no additional financial responsibility. You are just basically buying additional riding time on the horse for a fee, and there is no additional cost. I consider this a partial lease.

In a full lease situation, the horse is leased out and only the leaser will be riding it. This obviously would cost more money. In some cases, the cost of the full lease would just be the cost of the horse's board. In other cases, it may also include the other financial responsibility, maybe with the vet or farrier bills.

Each horse owner will have their own expectations. That is the great thing about leasing, the two parties can work out an arrangement that benefits both of them.

Does The Horse Stay or Go?

Some full lease situations will allow the horse to move to another facility. Others would have the horse stay where it is. Again, it is all dependent on the arrangements made between the two parties.

Also, while we are on the subject of moving horses, now is the time to mention that you should make sure to find out whether or not your lease permits you to take the horse off the premises for shows and other events.

Written Agreements

Even if you are leasing a familiar horse at your normal farm, it is important to have lease agreements in writing as to avoid conflict. Making sure all the details are worked out and on paper will make sure that both parties understand what is going to happen and what their responsibilities are.

How Long Will You Lease The Horse?

Some people in partial lease situations lease the horse on a month to month basis and the lease rider makes monthly payments. In other cases, especially if the horse is being moved to a new barn, the lease may be for a whole year with payments due at the beginning of the lease. Again, this all varies between the two parties involved.

If you are leasing a horse to use for shows, you would most likely want to lease it for the whole year or lease it for a certain show season. All of these things, as well as what the payment plans will be should be spelled out clearly in the written lease contract.

Some owners, in the case that you are moving the horse or will be taking it out and about a lot, will want you to pay for the horse to be insured. Either medically or for mortality. The cost of this depends on the value of the horse you are leasing, so the price can vary greatly.

Who Pays For What?

Make sure that you are aware of if you are responsible for vet and farrier fees. If so can you use the vet and farrier of your choice? Or do you have to use the owners?

Again, detailing these things in a written contract might seem a little excessive, but it is always best to have it all decided beforehand. Especially if you are friends with the owner of the horse you are leasing. It would be a shame for you to lose over a friend over a little detail in a horse lease agreement.

Why Lease Instead Of Buy?

People always ask me why they should lease a horse instead of buying one? In my opinion, it is a great way for riders considering taking the next step to owning a chance to try out having "their own horse". It is a good way to find out if you really have the time to put into a horse without buying one.

Leasing offers you the opportunity to ride the horse you need now. In other words, if you are still learning, you can lease a horse appropriate to your level for as long as you need to, and then move on to another when you are ready.

If you buy a beginner horse, and then outgrow its abilities, then you will have to decide if you can afford a new horse. Or have to decide to sell your first horse to buy another one. Which is a tough decision, since we all get attached to our horses.

For young riders, leasing works well, because they can get practice riding on a horse they are already comfortable with. Rather than having to try out other horses at strange barns that might shake their confidence.

The Con's of Leasing

If you are planning on buying a horse in the near future. Financially, it might not make sense to lease since you are spending money that you could be saving to buy a horse in the future.

For new riders, riding a variety of horses is an important part of learning to be a confident rider. If they only ride one horse all the time, they are missing out on the learning opportunity of riding different horses.

I sometimes offer lease programs, where basically the leaser just buys riding time and then they get assigned whatever horse is available to them when they come on their designated day. Obviously, horses that are suited to their ability level. This is a great experience, but not for everyone since for some the reason they want to lease is that they want to experience what it is like to have a horse of "their own". Which isn't a feeling they don't have when they ride a different horse all the time.

Depending on the lease arrangement you may be limited on when you can ride and if you can take the horse off the property, and for some riders, this would be a deal breaker.

The advantage of leasing is that you get all the benefits of horse ownership without the full financial commitment. Also, the benefits of horse ownership without the responsibility of having to make big decisions, as far as the horses health and well being.

Leasing a horse is going to be cheaper than buying one. Especially if you are doing a partial lease since you most likely won't have to be responsible for vet and farrier bills.

You still get the fun part of owning, like spending more time with the horse and getting to buy things for it. Color coordinating saddle pads and polo wraps, halters, and all that fun stuff.

Leasing agreements vary, so you can hopefully work with the horse owner to set up a leasing agreement that is ideal for both parties.

To Sum It Up

I would recommend leasing a horse to any rider before they make the decision to buy. This helps them to find out if they have the time to commit to a horse. Not to mention, especially for young riders, time with a horse without the direct instruction of a trainer or instructor all the time. This will be a good indication of it they are ready for a horse of their own and help them build confidence in the process.

Some people opt to lease instead of buy because of the fact that they basically can get the same experience without as big as a financial commitment.

It is really a situation by situation type thing. Leasing is better for some and buying is better for others. I would recommend if you are thinking about taking the next step to more time with horses, talk to your trainer or instructor. They know your ability level and the horses in the barn that may be available. They should be able to give you a better idea of what is right for you.

Remember, leasing doesn't have to be a forever thing. Using leasing as a stepping stone to horse ownership is a great option for everyone new to the horse world. For some people, it ends up being the best solution for them long term. Consider the options, and talk to your instructor. You will have a "horse of your own" before you know it!


Partial boarding is another option. In this situation, you share the use of your horse with another person in exchange for cheaper boarding costs. For example, if full board is $600/month, part-board may be $300/month but someone else gets to ride the horse three times a week, or use him for lessons, etc. Depending on the contract agreements, another user may or may not bring his own equipment, etc. They also may or may not be responsible for care such as farrier and veterinarian services. All the details should be outlined in a contract.

For those who wish to offer their horse for part-board, expect to pay less for board, but give up time spent with the horse. Find someone who's trustful and whose riding and handling skills are similar to your own.

Watch the video: BARN VLOG: MEET MY LEASE HORSE (July 2021).