BY BRITTANY FRADE
In the world of horses, ponies, showing and ribbons there is no shortage of horse rider partnership/ownership options. Like many other riders, I hit a stage in my riding where I wanted to become more competitive, but was unsure of whether the next step was to lease or a purchase a horse.
I spent months and months looking at barns, crunching numbers and trying horses in every price bracket. No matter how many horses I tried and how many numbers I crunched, I still couldn’t decide whether the “best” option was to buy or lease. After a while, I gave up. The search was so exhausting that it took away from my joy of riding, so I decided to move on.
Instead of buying or full leasing, I opted to half-lease a new horse to see where it took me. Much to my surprise, this turned out to be the “best” decision. I wish I had thought of it sooner, and here’s why:
A quick scroll through sales websites will remind you that there are a bazillion horses out there, and each one is so different from the last. Although having your own horse is an incredible experience, indefinitely riding the same horse for means you can get accustomed to the riding style, quirks and buttons of that particular horse—potentially reaching a plateau in your learning. When you are half-leasing a horse and find it has taught you everything it can, you have the ability to move on to a new horse and continue to learn. This will help you develop faster as a rider, and will give you the ability to ride a bunch of different types of horses.
Unless you’ve won the lottery, cost is always an important factor. It should come as no surprise that a partial lease situation is massively cheaper than owning or full leasing. Everything about the riding is expensive. Even the air at shows is expensive! So saving money where you can is always a good idea. If you’re looking to show more competitively or more frequently, part-boarding will help you save some money that you can spend on horse related things like more shows or another saddle pad for your ever growing collection.
As much as we love horses, they can be idiots when it comes to hurting themselves. Pulling muscles rolling in their own poop and smacking their heads on fences are not particularly uncommon. Injuries are expected. The benefit of half-leasing is that generally you’re not responsible for the cost of injury (depending on the your agreement with the owner). If the horse you’re riding inevitably injures itself trying to donkey kick the horse three paddocks over, you may be able to hop on another horse and keep learning. Phew!
Thankfully many lesson barns have half-leasing options available. Partial lease situations offer some mobility as far as trying new trainers or programs, as well as getting to attend different levels of horse shows. Knowing what you like and what you don’t like in a particular program will help if you eventually decide to buy your own horse.
It may sound crazy for advanced equestrians to consider half-leasing, but this is a great option to save money while getting horse, training and riding exposure that people who have been riding for years have. For all kinds of budgets and goals, it’s a great way to feel even more connected in the barn with a special horse.
Brittany teaches at a University but has a passion for writing and horsemanship. Having been riding for almost two decades and showing on the Trillium Circuit for many years she puts her knowledge and experiences to paper to help encourage other equestrians.