You are at a point where you are committed to horseback riding and want to be more involved with horses. You always dreamed about owning your own horse and only now have been able to actually consider it. But is owning a horse really the right option for you?
Leasing is another option for the committed equestrian to consider. I have done both, having owned 6 horses and leased over 5 horses. Through the years I have learned there are major pros and cons to both buying and leasing.
So should you lease or buy a horse? When deciding to lease or buy a horse there are a number of factors you should consider and think over before making a decision. Let me share a few of the things you should evaluate when choosing to lease or buy.
- Type of horse you want to work with
- How committed you are
- How much control you want
- Time availability
- Amount of risk you are willing to take
- How much work you are willing to do
- Experience level
To help you see side by side the differences between leasing and owning a horse I created an easy to scan chart. Then I go more in depth about some major differences between leasing and owning a horse. I have also included a list of benefits and downfalls of both leasing a horse and owning a horse.
Finally, to make it super easy for you to figure out what is truly the best choice for you, I have created a quiz.
This is a multiple choice quiz that will tell you which side you are leaning toward as the right situation for you.
Leasing VS. Owning Horses Chart
Keep in mind there are different types of leases and there are different situations horse owners can be in.
To learn about the different types of horse leases please read: Different Kinds Of Horse Leases: Choosing What Kind Is Best For You
For the sake of keeping this chart basic, these comparisons are more general and don’t really include exceptions.
|Less expensive||More expensive|
|Less control over horse||More control over horse|
|Lower risk||Higher risk|
|Less work||More work|
|Need less time for horse||Need more time for horse|
|Less commitment||More commitment|
|Less time with horse||More time with horse|
|Less experienced equestrian||More experienced equestrian|
|Commonly have to share horse with others||Can choose to be the sole rider|
|Opportunity for higher quality horses that otherwise would not have been able to afford to purchase||Often lower quality, old, young or greener horses for those on lower budget|
Financial Differences In A Lease Versus Owning
You have more financial responsibility for owning a horse than you do leasing a horse. Although there are some exceptions in leasing when you can spend as much if not more leasing than owning.
Most of the time leasing is cheaper. You have a fixed monthly fee that you pay. Sometimes you pay some amount of the horse’s extra expenses such as shoeing/ trimming, vet bills, chiropractic, massage therapy, saddle fitting, etc.
There are some leases that are just the one monthly payment a month and you don’t have to pay for any extras. Then there are leases where you take over all of the horses expenses.
The most expensive leases are the ones that you have to cover all the horses expenses, plus you are paying a fee over that for the use of the horse. Usually these leases are for high quality horses that would be for sale in a high price range.
The cheapest part of owning a horse is the purchase price. Usually leases provide the equipment for the horse though not always. But when you own a horse you have to pay for the purchase, price all the horse’s expenses and buy all the equipment you need for the horse.
If you full board the barn often has buckets, salt holders and licks, and water troughs for the paddocks, but not always. If you rough board or keep your horse at home you will have to spend even more money on equipment for maintaining the horses living space.
For example of price differences leasing vs. owning, I will use some my experiences as an as a very rough example. Keep in mind prices will be different depending on your situation and where you are from.
- Lease 1: Lease rides 3x per week $450 a month no extra costs
- Lease 2: Anytime riding just pay for shoes every other month $150 no extra costs
- Lease 3: 2 rides 1 lesson $350 a month no extra costs
- Lease 4: Anytime $250 a month no extra costs
(Extra costs have been factored in so you can see the averages I spent for horse ownership.)
- Owned 1 Upfront $2500/ $435 a month- Semi-rough board and worked off some board.
- Owned 2 Upfront $1700/ $529 a month- Worked off the board, just paid for my horse’s supplies
- Owned 3 Upfront $2500/ $627 a month- Full pasture board
As you can see I spent a lot less money on leasing than I did when I owned horses.
Something else to consider when owning a horse is if your horse gets injured you have to pay for all the medical bills and you are committed to the horse to keep it and care for it while it is healing and getting better.
If your lease horse gets hurt depending on your agreement, you may not have to cover the costs of injury or you may only cover part of the cost, or you might have to cover the whole cost. However, if the horse becomes unrideable you are not committed to having to keep doing the lease. Just make sure you end the lease according to the terms and what is okay in the contract.
Despite the extra cost I really enjoyed owning horses. Also be aware that the cost of owning or leasing a horse can really vary based on different factors, but in general leasing is cheaper than owning.
Type Of Horses In A Lease Versus Owning
When leasing a horse you may be able to find a unicorn where as if you are buying a horse, a unicorn may be hard to come by. When I say unicorn I just mean an ideal horse, well trained, well mannered, good personality, well put together conformation, sound and happy.
Are there never any good horses for sale? Of course there are good horses for sale! But the quality horses tend to be at a higher price point that most people would have difficulty affording or won’t be able to afford.
In a lease most often you don’t have to pay a large upfront fee for the horse. You could find a gem of a horse that would be $25,000 to purchase, but in a lease you are just paying $550 a month for 3x a week to ride. This is just an example.
Really good horses are not easy to find, so when someone finds one, most often they don’t want to sell their horse, but may consider a lease for certain reasons.
There are always exceptions to the kinds of horses when buying or leasing, but when you buy a horse at a lower price there are usually common themes.
Here are some examples of themes you may begin to find with cheaper horses.
- Green and inexperienced
- Behavior problems
- Old injuries and limitations
- Poor conformation
- Lot’s of time off or unfit
Keep in mind these things can also be present in horses that are more expensive as well but they are more common in the lower priced horses.
This being said, if you’re lucky and search relentlessly, you could find a nice horse at a lower price without these problems.
Some reasons the seller may be selling a nice horse at a lower price.
- Can’t afford the horse and need to sell ASAP.
- Cares more about the home than making money.
- Pregnancy and need a home quickly.
- Need a new home quickly for whatever reason.
A solid rider that has experience training horses or a decent rider with a knowledgeable instructor could have good luck with a green horse that has potential for the type of riding they want to do.
But for most riders you want a horse that you can build your confidence and learn from. It is much easier finding your ideal horse as a lease horse.
Here is a list of reasons why horse owners may be open to leasing their unicorn horses based on my experience.
- Lack of time. They want their horses to get more attention, care and stay fit.
- Too many horses, they need help.
- Lesson horse taking a break from constant lessons.
- Child outgrew the horse but they want to keep the horse they love.
- No longer interested in riding but they want to keep their horse.
- They are pregnant and can’t ride or have a new baby.
- Looking to reduce their horses expenses.
- Want a more experienced rider to help keep their horse fine tuned.
Whether you decide to lease or buy a horse, make sure you do your homework and figure out why the horse is available, in order to get a better idea of whether the horse is right for you. Have a list of requirements the horse must meet and make sure the horse checks off each mark that is most important to you.
It will be easier to find your ideal horse as a lease horse but don’t lose heart you could find the exception in a horse for sale. If you have a nice healthy budget to buy a horse around 10k and up, well then you are much more likely to find your ideal horse for sale.
Responsibilities In A Lease Versus Owning
In general, there are more responsibilities for owning a horse than leasing a horse. I believe some people like having the added responsibility of owning a horse because it gives them some sort of fulfillment.
But this is something you want to consider when you are trying to decide whether to lease or buy.
There are some leases that are similar to owning a horse. In the sense that you take over the care and expenses of the horse as if it were your own. Most leases however you will not have as much responsibility.
If you are doing a quarter, half, or full lease on-farm lease and paying a monthly fee you will have less responsibility than if you do an off-farm full lease whether a free or paid lease.
Responsibilities for a quarter, half or full lease on-farm lease might look something like this:
- Pay lease fees on time.
- Ride horse on appointed days.
- Groom well and tack the horse before riding.
- Properly cool out and care for the horse after riding.
- Clean tack regularly.
- Clean up after the horse and yourself.
- Let the owner know if you think something may be wrong with the horse, equipment, property or you have any concerns.
- If you are unsure about something, ask questions. Always make sure something you do with the horse is okay before you do it.
- Giving notice for ending the lease as stated in agreement if the horse ends up not being the best fit.
Responsibilities for owning a horse while on full board may look like something like this:
- Paying for your horse’s board.
- Buying necessary supplements for your horse.
- Buying well-fitting tack and equipment.
- Keep your tack clean and well taken care of.
- Having all the necessary equipment for your horse.
- Make sure your horse is properly conditioned.
- Keep horse on a fairly regular exercising schedule.
- Schedule farrier appointments.
- Schedule regular wellness visits from the vet.
- Keep an eye out for lamenesses, illness, or injury and be ready to call the vet if needed.
- Have your horse on a proper nutrition plan.
- Keep an eye on your horse’s body condition.
- Groom and pick out your horse’s feet on a regular basis.
- Take care of the horse’s extra care when ill, injured, or lame.
- Work on your horse’s ground manners.
- Let barn management be informed of what’s going on with horse, vet and farrier, illnesses, lamenesses, nutrition plan changes, new supplements.
- Keep an eye on the turnout situation whether the horse is happy with her mates or being alone. Sometimes you need to change turnout situations to help your horse find their happy place.
These are two examples of responsibilities you may have if you lease or own a horse, to help give you an idea of the difference in the amount of responsibility.
I hope this makes sense.
Responsibilities will be different from this if you own and keep your horse at home or do rough board as well as if you do an off-farm full lease, where you lease but take full responsibility for the horse.
It will have similar responsibilities to owning the horse.
Top Benefits Of Owning Horse
The top benefits of owning a horse can sometimes be
- You don’t have to share your horse with someone else.
- The satisfaction of having your own horse.
- Fulfillment of giving your horse a good home.
- The bond that can be created with years together. You can let yourself get attached to the horse because you don’t have to worry about the lease ending or the horse being taken away.
- Complete control over the horse.
- You don’t have to get permission to try new things with your horse.
- You can decide when you ride your horse, where you ride your horse, and who else is allowed to ride your horse.
- You can decide what to train your horse and what riding disciplines to try.
- You can grow and improve together.
- It brings quite a sense of accomplishment to see how far you come and look back at how you used to be when you first got your horse.
Top Benefits Of Leasing Horse
The top benefits of leasing a horse is that
- You can work with a horse that is at a higher level or better trained than what you could afford to buy.
- Leasing is more affordable.
- You don’t need to sell the horse if the horse is not the right fit and you want to work with a different horse, instead, you can just end the lease, because you are not tied to that horse.
- You will save money that can be put toward something else. If you want to show and compete leasing is a more doable way to afford it, rather than owning.
- It can be a good step between weekly lessons and owning a horse. The bridge that eventually brings you over to horse ownership.
- You don’t have to work as hard with a lease. You are paying just to come and ride the horse and don’t have to worry about the daily horse care, like mucking stalls, dumping scrubbing filling waters, picking paddocks, feeding and turnout.
You may have to do these things owning a horse if you are trying to work off the board, are doing rough board or if you keep your horse at home.
Top Downfalls Of Owning Horse
I would say the top downfalls of owning a horse are
- The expense is often more than leasing.
- More work is required.
- You may become stuck with the horse if it becomes not rideable, injured, or not the right fit.
If the horse is not the right fit you may be able to sell the horse to a rider that is compatible with the horse.
However, if the horse is injured or not rideable more often than not those horses end up in bad situations.
If you can afford a horse and don’t mind spending the money required, you are caring for horses on a constant basis, and you are willing to keep the horse even if they become a pasture pet, then you might just be a good candidate to own a horse.
Top Downfalls Of Leasing Horse
Top downfalls of leasing are
- You have limited control over the horse.
- You could potentially lose the horse if the owner decides to not lease anymore or sell the horse.
- You have to share the horse with other riders.
- May have set days and changing days may not be flexible.
- You may have restrictions or limitations as to what you can do.
- May be as expensive as owning if not more with a paid off-farm lease.
Best For You: Buy Or Lease A Horse Quiz
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