BY BRITTANY FRADE
Whether we want to admit it or not, the horse world is highly competitive and often driven by money. There is an inferred pyramid with horse owners at the top, and people without horses at the bottom (here here to being at the bottom!). This pyramid always left me feeling like less of a horse person because I couldn’t afford to have my own. The most I could afford to do was a half lease (or part-board), which I was extremely grateful for.
The longer I half-leased, the more my view of this perceived hierarchy changed. I decided, and will repeat this until everyone agrees with me, that half-leasing doesn’t make you any less of an equestrian than someone who owns a horse.
Just because your arrangement means you’re only riding three times a week instead of the six rides that owners or leasers could doesn’t mean you’re any lesser. Just because you might not pay the vet bills or the farrier bills, doesn’t mean you’re less into horse care.
What makes you an equestrian is loving the smell of the barn and the dirt on horses. Giving it your best every time you ride whether that’s once, twice or six times a week. What makes you an equestrian is always wanting to learn more. It doesn’t matter if that’s taking care of your horse at the barn, or sitting at home reading books about horses between your weekly lesson. Being an equestrian is more about your love and passion than about the percentage of ownership or the amount of money spent on a horse.
I know this first hand, as I’ve half-leased a number of horses at various facilities. Each situation is different. Sometimes I’m doing way more for a horse than the owner, because they’re busy with work or they just had a kid and don’t have time. Other times, the owner is incredibly hands on and my role in the horse’s life is limited. But I learn something from each lease, and get to continue doing what I love.
Being a half-leaser doesn’t mean that you know less about horses, or are less involved in a horse’s life. And just because you own the horse doesn’t mean you’ll show better or win more ribbons than someone else. Every part-board arrangement is different. Every horse is different, and every rider and owner is different too.
Never judge an equestrian based on their horse or lack there of, because you never know what’s happening behind closed barn doors. I guarantee that they love to ride just as much as you do.
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.