Pros and Cons of Leasing a Horse

Pros and Cons of Leasing a Horse – Read This Before You Decide

Whether you want to ride horses for fun or have big competition goals, leasing a horse may be a good option for you. Weighing the pros and cons of leasing a horse can help you make this decision. Every lease situation is unique and there are options for all levels of riders. Whether you are new to horses or have been riding for years, you will find that leasing a horse has wonderful benefits.

Why Would You Lease a Horse?

There are many situations where leasing a horse makes sense for riders, for example:

  • Leasing a horse to get a feel for the time and financial requirements of horse ownership before making the commitment to buy a horse. 
  • Parents may lease a pony or small horse for their child who will soon outgrow it.
  • Competitors can lease a horse that is experienced in a specific discipline, and leasing allows them to find a mount that can teach them new skills.
  • Someone in a temporary location for work or school cannot commit to horse ownership, but still wants to ride. 

Whatever your situation is, here are some tips you can use to weigh the pros and cons of leasing a horse: 

Here are 5 Pros of Leasing a Horse:

1. Minimizes Cost and Time Commitments

A big benefit to leasing a horse is that it minimizes the commitments you have to make. Owning a horse can be expensive, and if you aren’t ready to take on the cost of owning, leasing is an economical alternative. Leased horses often come with their own tack and equipment, further reducing your costs. If the horse owner still rides the horse too, you can split the care duties. That way the horse is getting all the attention they need, but requiring less of your time. 

2. Gives You A Consistent Mount

Leasing gives you guaranteed access to the same horse every time you go to the stable. If you often find yourself with nothing to ride, leasing means you won’t be missing out on the fun while your friends hit the trails or practice in the arena. It can also be challenging to learn new skills when each horse feels and reacts differently to your cues. It can be helpful to have a consistent partner that you know and trust to help you learn. Leasing also allows you to develop a close bond with one horse. Thus, allowing you and the horse to fully enjoy your time spent together. 

3. Tests Ownership Readiness

Leasing a horse lets you test the waters of horse ownership. You will then be able to buy a horse that is right for you. Leasing can introduce you to things like nutrition requirements and scheduling the farrier. Owners are also there to help if you have questions or problems that come up. Leasing also gives you an idea of how much time and money. The effort is required to keep a horse healthy and happy. 

4. Helps You Reach Goals

Riders often set big goals for themselves and having the right horse will help you reach them. If your goal is to become an expert trail rider. It is best to learn how to navigate trails on a horse that is familiar with that kind of riding. If your goal is to compete in dressage. Leasing a horse that has experience competing in dressage will help you learn the skills. There are horses available for lease that have experience doing just about everything you can think of. 

5. Allows You to Explore Different Things

If you are not sure what kind of riding is most suited to you. Leasing a horse is a great way to explore the different options. Many riders who are first starting out are not sure what they are looking to do. They just know they love horses! By finding a versatile horse to lease. You can explore different disciplines and can decide if you want to specialize in something. 

Here are 5 Cons of Leasing a Horse:

1. Usually Have Restrictions

When leasing a horse you are restricted to what the owner will allow you to do. You may only have access to the horse on certain days, may be required to take lessons on the horse, or keep the horse at its current location. Also, you may not be able to trailer to trails or events. And you might be limited to what you can do when you are riding, like cantering or jumping.

2. Attachment to the Horse

When weighing the pros and cons of leasing a horse, many people find the biggest downside to leasing is that you may find yourself emotionally attached to the horse you have chosen. Creating a strong bond with the horse will help you both to be happy riding partners, but when it comes time for the lease to end it will be sad when you have to part ways. Knowing that you will both will eventually move on does little to prevent the sadness that comes with it.

3. Horse May Be Sold

The owner may decide to sell the horse. If you are on a month-to-month contract, this gives you little time to find another mount. And if you are in the middle of competition season or working towards specific goals, this can throw a big hitch in your plans. I would recommend adding in a “first right of refusal” clause to your lease contract. This would mean the owner would be required to ask you first if you wanted to purchase the horse before asking someone else. 

4. Bound to a Contract

If you suddenly find yourself not wanting or able to lease a horse anymore, you may find yourself bound to a contract. For example, if you have a one year lease agreement and you decide to quit riding halfway through, you may be required to pay the rest of the money owed on the lease. If this is a concern for you, consider adding something into the lease contract that would let you terminate the lease early. This is usually done by paying an “early termination fee”. 

5. Limited Options

If you are looking for a very specific type of horse to lease, you may be limited to what is available. For example, if you are looking to barrel race it is usually pretty easy to find a barrel horse available in most areas. If you are looking to partially lease a palomino mare under 10 years old with a successful record of barrel racing within 20 minutes of your house, you will probably have a hard time finding that exact scenario. 

Now that we have weighed the pros and cons of leasing a horse, let’s look at some common types of leases:

Common Types of Horse Leases

1. Partial Lease

This type of lease gives access to the horse during a set number of days, usually 2 or 3 per week. In this situation, the owner usually rides the horse as well, or the horse may be used for lessons. The horse will be kept at the barn the owner has chosen. In this situation, the owner usually pays all of the required bills and charges a flat fee to the person leasing. This type of lease is typically the most cost-effective and requires the least amount of your time.

2. Full Lease

Similar to the partial lease, the horse will remain at the barn the owner has chosen and the owner pays all of the horse’s bills, charging you a flat fee. The difference in this situation is that no one else but you will ride the horse. In a full lease you take more responsibility for the care of the horse. 

3. Free Lease

This term refers to a different way of paying. A free lease does not mean that you don’t have to pay anything, it means that you take over all of the horse’s costs in exchange for having full-time access to the horse. In this situation, you often have more freedom to haul the horse off-site, or board at the location of your choosing. 

4. Off-site Lease

An off-site lease is one that lets you keep the horse to the location of your choosing, with owner approval. The owner will agree to let you keep the horse at your house, at a barn close to your home, or at a training facility where you are already a student. Some owners may even allow you to take the horse to a different city or state. In an off-site lease, the person leasing the horse is responsible for all of the cost and care of the horse. 

5. Show Lease

This type of lease is the most expensive but is common for competitors looking for a mount to help them achieve specific goals. Horses are available for riders to train on and take to competitions. In this particular lease, the rider is in charge of paying for all of the horse’s care, plus an additional fee to the owner. The additional fees are typically 25-40% of what the horse could be sold for. Horses in a show lease are often required to be in a stable with certain trainers and to go to a minimum number of shows per season.

Tips for Deciding to Lease a Horse

  1. Reach out to stables close to your home or that specialize in a specific kind of riding to see if they have any horses available to lease.
  2. If you are a beginner rider let a professional help match you to an appropriate horse.
  3. Ride the horse you are hoping to lease several times to ensure it is a good fit.
  4. Meet with the farm owner to introduce yourself, sign any required waivers, and get a copy of the barn rules before you get started. 
  5. When negotiating the lease clearly write out all of the details you have discussed with the owner. Make sure you have a copy of the lease and that it is signed by both parties.


Leasing a horse can be a rewarding experience for riders of all levels. Weighing the pros and cons of leasing a horse will help you decide if it is the right choice for you. From there you can decide what type of lease is best for your situation. You might find that leasing a horse will give you the opportunity you are looking for to enjoy life with horses.

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