PonyMom 101: Is it Better to Lease or Buy Your First Pony?

Photo © Lauren Mauldin


Your little (or big) one has been taking lessons for a couple years, and the time has come to get her a pony (or horse) of her very own. Congratulations! You are about to enter the ranks of true PonyMom. One of the first questions you will have to decide on is whether to lease or purchase. Though there are pros and cons to either option, I am personally in favor for leasing a child’s first pony.

Social media is a great tool for pony shopping, but it’s easy to get confused. A new PonyMom can login to Facebook and see ad after ad for $1000 ponies. Why can’t you just buy that one and be done? Why would it be better to pay ten times that amount every year, for multiple years, when you can just buy one for a fraction of a lease cost? 

Those of us who have been in the horse world a bit longer know that you (usually!) get what you pay for. Unless you are looking for a backyard companion, I’d suggest steering clear of the bargain basement ponies. They are generally priced that way for a reason.

Photo © Lauren Mauldin

We leased my child’s first pony for 4 years. If I add up what we spent for those total years, I could have bought her a really lovely pony! But to purchase that hypothetical lovely pony would have meant that I needed the total purchase amount in hand, which is not always feasible. 

Let’s say I lease a pony for $7000/year for 4 years. At the end of those four years, I spent $28,000, which could buy a lovely little pony in theory. Except at the end of my four years leasing, I had nothing to “show” for it. I didn’t own a $28,000 pony that I could try to sell to recoup some of that cost or lease out myself. The raw numbers favor buying.

But you have to look at more than numbers. When my child first needed a pony, I didn’t have $28,000 to shop with. I also could get a much nicer, better trained, with a $7,000 lease budget than I could with a $7,000 purchase budget. If you’re not sure how to factor the cost of a pony into your life, a simple monthly budget template can help.

I will say it over and over until I am blue in the face: good ponies make for good riders. A good pony will allow your child to learn how to ride properly. If the kid is spending all their energy trying to get the pony to go, or scared they might get bucked off, they can’t worry about if their leg is in the right position. 

Photo © Lauren Mauldin

Really special, good ponies that allow kids to learn don’t always get sold. They are true unicorns that are passed down from child to child through leasing, leaving a trail of confident riders in their wake. A yearly lease fee is not only an investment in your child’s riding journey, but also paying for many years spent for a good pony’s training, soundness and management. 

I’m lucky enough to own one of those ponies right now, although it took a lot of work for us to get him to this point. I will never sell him. He has done so much for my child, and I owe him the security that no matter what happens, he will always have a place to call home. He took care of my kid, and I will guarantee he is taken care of for life. Not every equestrian can make that kind of promise to a pony. If you lease one, you don’t have to worry about retirement care (and expense) if it becomes unsound or unable to perform for your child anymore. 

One of the most common things I hear regarding purchasing a pony versus leasing is the thought that you can purchase a younger or a greener pony for less money than a lease fee for a well schooled mount. The idea is that you invest a little training in the green pony, which your kid can ride for years to come, and then the child and the pony get to “grow up together.” It sounds lovely, but it doesn’t work for everyone. 

Though your child loves riding now, there’s a very real risk that they might decide they’re not in it for the long haul  (boys get cute, there’s a car that needs driving, another sport takes priority). The pony could also get an unfortunate injury that renders it unrideable. A lease may have you on the hook for the remainder of your terms, but a purchase has you on the hook for as long as you own the animal—which could be forever. 

Photo © Lauren Mauldin

You also have to factor in the cost of training for your green pony. Do you know why those fancy, well schooled ponies cost a lot of money to lease? It’s because they’ve had countless training rides, schooling trips at the horse show and experience. None of those things are free. With a green pony, you are going to be paying a trainer to get it ready for your child, not to mention all the board, vet, farrier, and general upkeep costs that any pony requires. Suddenly your $5,000 pony has well over $10,000 invested in it before your child ever gets a chance to show. 

Finally, kids grow—and fast. My oldest shot up 4 inches in 6 months. They outgrow ponies, both physically and ability-wise, quickly. A pony that is kind enough to take your child through walk/trot, and still game enough to get her through children’s ponies is possible, but they don’t come cheap and they are hard to find. Unless you have a money tree (and if so, we should become best friends) or more money than you know what to do with (and if so, we should become best friends), you are far better off shopping for the pony your child needs right now, and not the one she will need 3 years in the future. Leasing is a great option for this, because you could get a new pony every year to suit your child’s development. That way you’re not in a position where you have to sell your current pony before you can buy the next one. 

Leasing is honestly the easiest, and typically most cost effective way to launch yourself into the realm of PonyMom. Who knows, maybe you’ll get the pony bug yourself and become a PonyMomAmmy too! Join us – we are a pretty fun group!

About the Author: Ponymomammy juggles her roles of mother (two human, two ponies, and three doggos), wife, and perpetual amateur in Camden, SC. When not shuttling kids, or riding, she can be found feebly attempting to clean or cook, usually in dirty breeches from an earlier hack. Both she and her daughter enjoy showing on both the local, and A rated, show circuits.
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