Everything You Need to Know About Renting a Horse
Not everyone who loves horses has the space and means to own one, but that doesn’t mean your dreams of working with and riding horses should be over. There are many options out there for you to experience what it would be like to care for a horse without the responsibility of owning one.
Can you rent a horse? You are not likely to find a daily horse rental; however, many facilities offer either full or partial “leases” of their horses. These leases allow a rider the freedom of riding and caring for a horse without the responsibility of ownership. Depending on the location, the specific arrangements, and the animal’s level of training, you can expect to pay anywhere between $200 to $600 per month to lease a horse.
Leasing a horse is a great option for many different situations, whether you have a child who desperately wants a pony but you know they’ll out-grow it in a few years, or the adult amateur rider who wants a horse to treat as their own without a major financial commitment. In this article, I’ll detail everything you need to know about leasing a horse!
How Much Does A Horse Lease Cost?
The cost of the lease can vary greatly. In general, you should expect to pay between $200 to $600 per month to lease a horse, regardless of the details.
One of the variables in the cost of a lease will be your location – if you live in an urban area with very few equestrian facilities, you should expect to pay more for a lease than if you lived in a more rural or even suburban area. You should also expect to pay more for a specialized horse (i.e., a horse that is trained to show in dressage or jumping). Even with all things being equal, different barns will have different ideas about what is a fair price. If you aren’t already affiliated with a barn, I would advise calling around to learn more about a few different leasing programs before making any decisions.
What Does A Horse Lease Include?
There is a lot of variation when it comes to what is included in a typical horse lease. I have seen horses offered for full lease, half or partial lease, and even free lease. Here are the generic parameters of each type of lease:
Full Leasing a Horse
In a full lease, you pay to have access to the horse whenever you want unless otherwise stated. You are the sole rider of the horse and do not have to “share” the horse with anyone else. In other terms, you have full use of the horse.
Full leases are the most expensive type of lease; you can expect to pay anywhere from $250 – $600 to full lease a horse. This fee is paid to the horse’s owner on a monthly basis. The owner will usually be responsible for paying boarding costs, vet bills, feed bills, and any other expenses the horse creates in regard to care and maintenance.
Half Leasing a Horse
In a half lease, you have partial use of the horse, meaning there are certain days of the week you will have access to the horse. The average amount of days included in a half lease is three days a week. On other days, the horse may be used in a lesson program or could even be half-leased by someone else.
Since you’re only getting access to the horse half the week, half leasing is a cheaper option compared to full leasing. A full lease can cost as much as double the price of a half lease, with a half lease being around $200 – $400 a month. The horse’s owner should still be responsible for covering the horse’s care and maintenance costs.
Free Leasing a Horse
In a free lease, there is no fee you have to pay to lease a horse. Believe it or not, this type of lease is much more common than you think! Don’t get your hopes up just yet; in a free lease, while you’re not paying a fee to lease a horse, you are usually responsible for paying all of the horse’s care expenses, almost as if they were your actual horse!
Free leases are often offered when a horse owner does not have the time for their horse but wants to make sure their horse is still getting attention and exercise. I’ve known people who have free leased the same horse for ten years, while others will have a written contract for a set amount of time.
While you’re not having to pay a leasing fee each month, the amount you end up paying to care for the horse each month can vary drastically. Looking at my own horses that I keep on my own property, one costs me about $40 a month. He is a low-maintenance, easy keeper who I only have to pay a farrier bill for. On the other hand, I have another horse that needs the chiropractor every month, along with a wide array of special feeds and supplements. He ends up costing me $300-$400 a month.
A full lease means that you will generally be the only one riding the horse, while a half lease means that you will be sharing the horse with the owner and/or the business. A full lease can cost as much as double the price of a half lease.
The takeaway of this should be that every lease will look different. It all depends on the parameters set up by the owner or facility. Some barns will only allow a lessee (the person who is leasing) to ride on specific days. Some restrict that even further by allowing the lessee only a specific time frame on those days. Other barns may ask the lessee to handle barn chores or to pay for a portion of the horse’s feed or farrier bills. I’ve heard of many fair leasing arrangements that included some of these stipulations.
On-Site and Off-Site Horse Leases
When looking for a horse to lease, you’ll see phrases like “on-site lease” and “off-site lease.” While these phrases are mostly self-explanatory, they can quickly limit the horses available to you depending on your situation.
With an on-site lease, the leased horse must continue to be kept or boarded at the horse owner’s stable. The biggest way this will affect you is in your travel time to the barn and the instructor you will be working with. In many on-site full lease agreements, you are required to take a certain amount of lessons with the stable’s instructor or the horse’s owner each week.
If you already have an instructor you like and would prefer to stay with, you may want to avoid on-site leases. Many on-site leases with lesson requirements written into the contract will be at competitive stables.
An off-site lease is where you are able to take the horse away from the horse owner’s barn to keep it at a stable of your choosing. Many free leases will also be off-site leases. You’ll be able to continue to work with your own instructor, and you can pick a stable that makes more sense for you travel-wise. If you have the space and facilities, you could even keep the horse on your own property!
Do You Need Riding Experience To Lease A Horse?
Statistically and objectively, horseback riding is a dangerous sport. For the safety of the rider and the horse and for liability purposes, most barns will not offer the freedom of a lease to an inexperienced rider. I had ridden for years at the same facility before I leased a horse.
The owner and my trainer knew firsthand my abilities as a rider and determined the lease was suitable. If a potential lessee was not a student at their facilities, they required the rider to come in and demonstrate their horsemanship and riding skills before determining if they had a horse that was a good match. Most facilities will require a similar demonstration to ensure that you are “horse-safe.”
In addition to leasing, many facilities will require weekly lessons to accompany a lease. These lessons generally are provided by their trainers and are not included in the leasing fees. Many leases also do not allow solo jumping on a leased horse unless there is a trainer in the arena.
Can You Show A Leased Horse?
If you are an experienced rider and looking for a horse to show, many facilities will allow you to show their horses. This will require special arrangements be made with the barn; most owners do not allow a lessee to take the horse off-site, or even on a trail, without explicit permission. If you and your leased horse are proficient in a particular discipline, you can absolutely ask your lessor if you will be allowed to show the horse off-site.
Leasing vs. Buying A Horse
There are many reasons to lease a horse rather than buy one. If you don’t have the space to keep a horse at home, leasing is usually cheaper than buying and boarding a horse, especially when considering the extra fees a lessee typically does not have to cover, like feed, farrier, and vet bills. When you account for all of these fees, horses can be pretty expensive to own, and a lease will provide more consistent affordability.
Owning a horse is also a big responsibility. If you’ve ever owned a horse on your own property, you know how much planning goes into taking a weekend trip. Horses require a lot of care and maintenance; aside from their need for companionship, their facilities need to be cleaned on a regular basis, and they need to be fed at least twice per day. Their water requires daily (at least) checking and topping off, and the fences need to be walked regularly to ensure there are no weaknesses.
There are also a lot of “extras” that come with owning a horse. When I leased a horse at my local barn, I owned a home on fenced property that had plenty of room for a horse of my own. Space was not the issue for me – it was everything else. Aside from the time, money, and responsibility that goes into having a horse that you own, you also need to consider what it is that you are going to be doing with your horse. Are you planning on showing or trail riding? If so, you’d better have a trailer to transport your horse and a truck to transport your trailer.
Can You Rent A Horse For Just A Day?
If you are not ready to lease or own a horse, but you have a free weekend and would like to “rent” a horse, you probably won’t have much luck aside from paying to go on a guided trail ride. I don’t know of any barn that will allow a rider they are unfamiliar with to take their horse out without supervision. Horses are not like vehicles; they are unpredictable and sensitive living beings. That said, there is a lot to be said about guided trail rides; the horses are generally quite safe, and most guided trail rides allow both walking and trotting, and some will allow you to canter.
Leasing Can Be A Win-Win
If you have always dreamed of having a horse but the responsibility of owning one seems intimidating, finding a great match to lease can be a beneficial option for not only you but also for the horse’s owner and the horse himself. Before agreeing to lease a horse, make sure to thoroughly read through the contract to ensure you understand the parameters of the lease. If the specifics are agreeable to you, and the horse is appropriate for your skill level, you will likely have a great experience leasing.
If leasing a horse seems like a good option for you, visit my article, How to Lease a Horse: Everything You Need to Know, to learn more.