How To Lease A Horse: Everything You Need To Know

Everything You Need to Know About Leasing a Horse

There are many ways to participate in the equine community. While most horse lovers dream of owning a horse of their own, this is not a possibility for every equestrian. For horse lovers who are not yet ready to take the big step of buying a horse, leasing a horse can be a great alternative! 

So, how do you lease a horse? Much of leasing a horse is similar to buying a horse. You must research a horse that is well-suited to your abilities, ask important questions, take test rides, and negotiate the details of the arrangement. While this can be an intimidating process, it is not nearly as stressful as purchasing a horse.

Whether you are new to the world of horses or looking to take that next step towards owning a horse of your own, there are many things to learn about leasing a horse. In this post, we will share everything you need to know about the process of leasing a horse including important questions to ask, reasons you may consider leasing, and tips for a successful leasing experience. 

What Does Leasing a Horse Mean?

When you are leasing a horse, you are paying a set fee for the ability and privilege of additional riding time on that particular horse. In many ways, leasing a horse is similar to owning a horse, albeit with fewer financial responsibilities. For many equestrians and horse lovers, leasing a horse is a great step towards eventual horse ownership and learning everything that goes into caring for horses. To learn more about how to care for a horse, check out my article How to Care For A Horse: Ultimate Guide For Beginners.

Common Horse Lease Arrangements

There are countless reasons why a horse owner may lease their horse to other riders, as well as a variety of horse lease arrangements. It is important to familiarize yourself with the various horse lease arrangements that may be available as you begin your search for a horse to lease. Two of the most common types of horse lease arrangements include partial and full leases.

Partial Lease Arrangement

A partial lease arrangement, also known as a half lease, usually provides you with the ability to ride the horse you are leasing during certain days of the week. In a partial lease, you will be sharing the horse with another rider or the owner. Because of this, the horse must remain on the premise instead of moving to another location. 

In most partial lease arrangements, you can ride the horse three or four times a week for a fixed monthly payment. Because you are sharing the lease with another individual, you may also share some of the expenses such as vet or farrier costs although this is not always the case.

While you may be tempted to jump feet first into a full lease arrangement, a partial lease is a great option as you determine your needs and preferences. Because most partial leases are on a month-to-month basis, you are not locked into a long-term contract as you may be with a full lease. 

Full Lease Arrangement

In a full lease arrangement, you are the only equestrian riding the horse. One of the greatest benefits of this type of lease is that there are fewer restrictions on when, and how often, you can ride! 

Some full lease arrangements allow you to keep the horse in a different location such as your personal barn while others require the horse to remain on the premises. There are often many more responsibilities and costs associated with a full lease arrangement. You may be required to pay for vet or farrier fees, and the owner may request that you invest in horse insurance.

A full lease arrangement is the closest experience to owning a horse of your own without the responsibility of making important decisions regarding the horse’s long-term health or wellbeing. While the idea of a full lease may be tempting, it is important to gauge if you are truly ready for this level of commitment.

There are, of course, several other types of horse lease arrangements including lesson leases, quarter leases, and more. If you are unsure of the type of lease that would be best suited to your needs and preferences, your trainer or an experienced equestrian will be able to provide additional insight! 

The Process of Leasing a Horse

Leasing a horse is, in many ways, quite similar to buying a horse. Because you will be signing a legally binding contract, it is important to approach this process seriously. It is always better to put in additional work on the front end of your lease to ensure a positive experience for everyone involved. 

Figure Out What Type of Lease Arrangement You Prefer

We have already discussed several common lease arrangements. Before you begin to look for a horse to lease, it is important to figure out what type of arrangement you prefer. This will guide your search by eliminating horses that are not offered with your preferred arrangement. 

Find a Horse to Lease That Matches Your Abilities

You may be tempted to overstate your ability or experience level as you look at horses to lease. It is important to find a horse that matches both your riding abilities as well as your preferences. There is nothing wrong with being a newcomer to the equine community! It will always be more beneficial to lease a horse that allows you to excel in your favorite pastime.

Along these same lines, don’t be afraid to lease an older horse! Many times, older horses are well-trained and an excellent choice, especially if this is your first leasing experience. While you may be committed to training a young horse if you are invested in ownership, it is better to avoid doing so while leasing a horse. 

To learn more tips about finding the right horse, check out my article Choosing the Right Horse: 10 Expert Tips.

Ask Questions to Learn Important Information About the Horse

Every horse owner will appreciate a potential leasor who is interested in learning more about their horse. After all, they are just as committed to finding a good match as you are! Be sure to make a list of any questions you may have about the horse’s history, temperament, lease arrangements, or more. 

Test Ride the Potential Lease Horse

Always, always, always ride a horse before you sign a lease agreement! It is also highly beneficial to ask the owner to ride their horse for you. This will allow you to observe the horse with a rider with whom they are comfortable. If you are new to the equine community, ask your trainer or an experienced equestrian to accompany you during the test riding process as they will provide you with important insight. 

Get Your Lease Arrangement in Writing

While it may be intimidating, you must get your lease arrangement in writing! This agreement is similar to any other rental situation and should include the terms of the lease. Be sure to thoroughly read the contract and ask for clarification on any portions that you do not fully understand. 

Reasons to Consider Leasing a Horse

There are several reasons why you may consider leasing a horse over buying a horse. Here are a few of the most common reasons to consider leasing a horse: 

You Aren’t Quite Ready for Horse Ownership

Owning a horse is a massive responsibility! While it is highly rewarding, it is important that you only take this step if you are ready for the commitment of both your time and finances. One of the greatest reasons to lease a horse is to gauge your ability to care for a horse outside of your riding lessons. 

Leasing a horse, especially on a full lease, will provide you with a great picture of horse ownership without the financial burden.

You Can Consistently Ride One Horse During Lessons

Another reason to consider leasing a horse is that it allows you to ride a horse constantly during your lessons. For new riders, rotating between the horses that are currently available in the barn can become intimidating. While it is a good practice to familiarize yourself with various horses, it can also eat away at valuable lesson time.

If you are pursuing riding lessons on a serious level and you are ready to truly excel in the sport, it may be highly beneficial to lease a horse with whom you can develop a relationship.

Questions to Ask Before You Lease a Horse

There are countless questions you should ask a horse owner before you enter into a lease agreement with them. Asking these questions ahead of time will eliminate confusion and ensure a successful leasing experience for each party involved. 

Can I Take the Horse Off the Premise for Shows & Events?

If you participate in shows, races, events, or even enjoy trail riding, you must clarify whether your lease will allow you to take the horse off the premises. For most partial leases, the horse must remain on the premise. Some horse owners, however, will allow the lessor to take the horse off the premise for an additional fee.

In a full lease situation, there is likely to be more flexibility with taking the horse off the premises or even boarding them at your own barn. If you are participating in shows and events frequently, a full lease situation that allows you this flexibility is likely the best fit.

Do I Need to Insure the Horse I Am Leasing?

Especially if you plan to take the horse off the premises, you will need to ask if the owner requires horse insurance. Even if it is not a requirement for leasing, you may wish to look into this important coverage as an added layer of protection. While we certainly hope that nothing happens to the horse while it is in your care, horse insurance could save you thousands of dollars in the event of an accident. 

Am I Responsible for Vet & Farrier Fees?

As mentioned previously, different types of lease agreements will have different financial responsibilities. It is important to ask if you are responsible for vet and farrier fees as the lessor. If these fees are part of your lease agreement, you will need to ask whether you can choose your own vet and farrier or if you must use the owner’s contacts.

It is wise to request that these important details are outlined in the lease contract to avoid unnecessary confusion or miscommunication.

Tips for a Successful Horse Leasing Experience

As with anything, there are several things you can do to ensure that your horse leasing experience is successful. By properly preparing yourself as you enter into this type of contract, you can avoid unnecessary frustration and confusion.

Communication is Key

In a horse lease situation, you must remember that although you are paying to ride the horse, you are not the horse’s owner. You must establish a clear line of communication with the owner. In fact, it is always better to over-communicate than under-communicate. If you notice that anything is off with the horse, or if they are injured while you are riding, you must communicate this with the owner.

A healthy owner-lessor relationship will go a long way in creating a pleasant horse leasing experience. 

Continue Riding Lessons

Far too often, equestrians give up riding lessons to afford a horse lease. While leasing a horse provides you with more opportunities for riding, you must continue to learn and grow. This is so important that some lease agreements even require the lessor to continue taking weekly lessons! 

If you are unable to afford both leasing a horse and continuing lessons, consider a quarter lease or a lesson lease agreement that will be more financially feasible. As a more experienced rider, you may be able to reduce your riding lessons to bi-weekly or monthly. Whatever the frequency of your lessons, it is important that you never stop learning.

Leasing a horse can be an incredible experience! However, for most first-time lessors, it can be quite intimidating. With ample research and the guidance of an experienced equestrian, you will be ready to successfully take this next exciting step in your equine journey! 


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My husband and I started Equine Helper to share what we’ve learned about owning and caring for horses. I’ve spent my whole life around horses, and I currently own a POA named Tucker. You can learn more here.

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