Buying a horse is a big decision! There are many ways to get acclimated before deciding to buy your own horse. In this article we’ll review why you should lease a horse before buying one! Plus, how it can prepare you better for horse ownership.
Should You Lease A Horse Before Buying One?
Generally speaking, leasing a horse before buying one is always the best option. When you lease a horse before buying one you get the opportunity to learn the ins and outs of horse care. You’ll learn about the expenses and time commitment involved in horse ownership.
Horses are a lot of work and there is a lot more to horse ownership than just knowing how to ride. So let’s start at the beginning. You need to lease a horse before buying one and before that, you need riding lessons!
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Before You Lease A Horse, Take Lessons
If you haven’t taken riding lessons, then stop right here. First, you need to learn how to ride independently, and take consistent lessons with a riding instructor you trust. Horseback riding is inherently dangerous and requires a certain level of knowledge to stay safe. Not only are horses large animals, they’re also flight animals.
During your riding lessons you will learn about horsemanship and horse care in addition to learning how to ride. If you have not taken riding lessons, this article explains what you can and should expect at your lessons. What To Expect At Your First Horseback Riding Lesson.
Finding the right riding instructor who is a good match for you, can be a challenge. So I’ve put together a complete guide to help you find a reliable and knowledgeable trainer. Whether you are exploring the idea of taking riding lessons for the first time or are a seasoned rider looking for a more suitable trainer, check out this complete guide. I put together this guide to help you make the process less stressful. How To Choose A Horseback Riding Instructor.
The Basics Of Leasing A Horse
So what exactly does leasing a horse entail? Well, there are several options and variations to leasing. Typically, riders can lease a horse at the barn where they take lessons. Once your riding instructor agrees you’re ready to ride unsupervised they can help you set up a lease. Often times the lesson horse you ride will be available for a partial lease or another horse in the barn may be available.
Leasing a horse means you can pay to borrow and ride someone else’s horse. Usually you’ll be required to ride on certain days or possibly certain times. You’ll also be responsible for sharing the cost of the horse’s expenses. Plus, you’ll have the freedom to trail ride or practice outside of your lessons. You’ll also have the ability to just visit the horse you’re leasing at the barn and groom them and give them lots of love and affection.
Types Of Horse Leases
Most barns offer one of the options below. In the event that your barn does not have a suitable horse available, you may be able to lease a horse from outside your barn. In this case you would need to board it at your barn during the lease period. Alternatively, you could lease the horse at the facility where he or she lives.
On Farm Lease Vs. Off Farm Lease
An on farm lease is just as it sounds. Meaning, you can lease the horse via one of the options listed below and the horse will remain at the farm where it currently resides. If you plan to do an on farm lease at a another barn, you’ll still need to take lessons. You’ll either need to take lessons at the farm where the horse lives or get permission for your instructor to teach you there.
An off farm lease will allow you to lease a horse that does not currently reside in your barn. You can then relocate the horse either to your own property or the barn where you take lessons. Typically this is only an option for a full lease situation to an approved facility. The owner will likely want to be allowed to stop by unannounced to check on their horse at any point during the lease period.
A full lease means you’ll have full flexibility to ride the horse, groom the horse, take the horse to shows, travel to offsite lessons and more during the period of time defined in the lease agreement. When you full lease a horse, no other lessons students or riders at the barn can use the horse. You now pseudo own a horse! Sounds great right?
Well, before you get excited, with full freedom to treat the horse as your own comes full responsibility! This includes all of the horse’s care and expenses. You’ll need to be prepared to pay for your horse’s board and expenses. Expenses like vet bills, shoes or farrier bill, dentist, horse show bills, riding lessons etc. Often times the owner will even require you to take out mortality and major medical insurance for the horse to ensure that in the case of an emergency the bills will be covered. When you lease a horse before buying one you’ll get a taste of what the true expenses of horse ownership are.
Of course, every barn and horse owner could add some variation to this agreement which should all be documented in your contract. Make sure you have a written contract signed by both parties and have fully read and understand the expectations.
A full lease is intended for someone who is ready to own a horse. Usually they either have not yet found the right match or cannot afford to purchase the type of horse they’re looking for.
Partial Or Half Lease
A half lease or other partial lease means you have access to the horse a couple of times per week. Often times a half lease includes three riding days. Many barns offer a range of one to four days per week for partial leases and the price will depend on the number of days.
Typically, partial leases are used in lesson barns. Usually, the owner or other lesson students are also riding the horse which means that the horse could easily become over worked.
When you partial lease a horse, you will have the freedom to ride on your own on your designated days. You may be able to show and trail ride as well depending on scheduling. Work with the owner and your instructor to iron out these details.
Similar to a full lease, you’ll need to be prepared to pay for some of the horse’s expenses. In many cases you’ll be required to pay a lease fee and a share of veterinary and farrier expenses. Plus, you’ll still need to pay for your riding lessons.
A great reason to partial lease a horse before buying one is that it’s an economical way to get your feet wet! Because, you will not have to fully support the horse yourself. However, you’ll still have the opportunity to learn and care for the horse.
Practice rides are like the pre-requisite to leasing and owning a horse. If you’ve been taking horseback riding lessons consistently and can ride independently and safely, this is the best way to get your feet wet. Not all barns offer this service, but it is very popular when it’s available.
A practice ride is like an a la carte lease ride. During which time, a student can ride one of the lesson horses on a designated day and time. Students can practice what they’ve been working on in their lessons, brush the horse and take as many breaks as they want.
Typically instructors schedule these rides during times they are available to supervise riders for safety but without teaching them.
If you are interested in leasing a horse but aren’t sure if you’re ready, this is a great intermediary step!
The Benefits Of Leasing A Horse Before Buying One
Leasing a horse before buying one is can help you determine if you’re really ready to buy a horse. You’ll find out how good your skills really are when you start riding on your own outside of your lessons. Can you be independent and safe while handling your horse on the ground? Learn skills like blanketing and catching your horse in the paddock. You’ll need to learn about what the horse eats and how to clean their stall.
Most likely, you’ll end up taking a few trips to the tack shop to outfit them with tack, equipment or even just a new saddle pad! And, if you’re likely you may even get to experience a minor injury or illness to help you learn how to manage those situations appropriately.
Having the freedom to ride and work with your horse outside of your lessons will help you identify which areas you need to improve on and learn before buying a horse.
Plus, chipping in for expenses will help you identify the type of budget you need to have to support a horse once you purchase one. Not only are horses very costly, they are unpredictable when it comes to ailments and unexpected costs.
Lastly, you’ll get a real taste of the time commitment involved with owning a horse! If your family thinks you spend a lot of time at the barn now, wait until you lease or buy a horse!
Leasing A Horse For The First Time
Now that you’ve come to the conclusion that you need to lease a horse, what’s next? Start by having a conversation with your riding instructor. Be open and honest about your ability and skill level and find out if they think you’re ready. If not, talk them about a plan for how to ride more often in order to be prepared for leasing a horse. Talk openly about your short and long term goals.
If your instructor agrees that you are ready talk to them about your options. This includes riding on your own and the ability to safely tack and untack your horse properly. Find out if the horse you take lessons on is available for a partial lease, or if your barn offers practice rides. Your best bet is to lease a horse you’ve taken a few lessons on already.
Finding A Horse To Lease
If there isn’t a horse available in your barn, work with your instructor. Find out if anyone they know personally has a horse available. If you’re interested in only a partial lease but need to set up an off farm lease, find out if another student would also be interested in partial leasing the horse. This way you could share the expenses.
If the horse you lease is different than the horse you’re used to riding, remember it will take time to get to know each other. Every horse has a unique personality and some take longer to bond with than others. The most important aspect is to ensure you find a safe and reliable match.
You need to lease a horse that is suitable for your skill level. You and your instructor will need to try some horses out together and it could take a significant amount of time to find a good match.
But, be patient and don’t rush! And listen to your instructor. If you find a horse that you really like but your instructor disagrees, remember they have years of experience with lots of different horses. They may see behavior or body language that could put you at risk. Or, they may have a large network and could be hesitant to lease a horse from a certain barn. Your trainer has your best interest in mind, so take their advice even if it’s not what you want to hear.
For more information on what to look for when trying out horses, check out this article all about the process of buying your first horse. This article goes more in depth about what to look for in a prospect. Many of these tips apply to leasing horses! What You Need To Know When Buying Your First Horse.
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