To Lease or To Buy? The Pros and Cons of Horse Ownership

Today we’re saddling up to explore a topic that has left many a rider pondering – should you lease a horse or buy one? It’s a big question, and not a decision to make lightly! So, grab your riding boots, because we’re jumping into the pros and cons of each.

Buying a horse means you’re all in; that beauty is yours, lock, stock, and barrel. Leasing, on the other hand, is like a Netflix subscription for horse lovers—you get to enjoy the perks without the long-term strings. Of course, reality is not quite so cut and dry. There are many things to consider when you decide to welcome a horse into the family. What works for one family won’t work for the next.

There are many pros and cons on each side of the fence and it is important to weigh them all before you make your decision.

Leasing a Horse: The Pros

  1. Test the Waters: Leasing allows you to dip your toes—or should we say hooves—into the world of horse ownership without the long-term commitment. The rider can make sure that the horse is a good fit, both skill and personality wise. If not, they can part ways when the lease period ends.
  2. Lower Costs: Generally speaking, leasing is less expensive upfront than buying. You won’t need to fork over a lump sum, which is great for your piggy bank.
  3. Shared Responsibility: Often when you lease, the horse’s owner will still be responsible for some of the care and veterinary expenses. You get to enjoy riding without fretting over every little detail. That’s not to say that you won’t be responsible for sharing in those expenses. That will depend on the agreement that you and the owner settle on.
  4. Flexibility: Plans change, life happens, and sometimes you may need to step back. Leasing offers the flexibility to do just that without a heap of complications.
  5. Skill Matching: Leasing allows you to match your skill level to different horses over time. Once you’re ready to gallop instead of trot, you can switch to a horse that offers a more challenging ride.

Leasing a Horse: The Cons

  1. Limited Availability: Leasing often means sharing the horse with the owner or even other leasers. So, you can’t just saddle up whenever you feel like it. You might have to follow a schedule that only allows for riding on specific days at specific times.
  2. Less Control: As you don’t own the horse, decisions about training, health care, and even the saddle you use might not be entirely up to you. You also aren’t necessarily free to take the horse off property to shows or for trail riding without getting the owner’s permission.
  3. Attachment Issues: You might fall in love with your leased horse and then face the heartbreak of having to give them up when the lease ends.
  4. Hidden Costs: Sometimes leasing contracts have clauses that can add up—like requiring you to pay for certain vet checks or unforeseen expenses.
  5. Short-Term: Leasing is usually a short-term arrangement. If you’re looking to build a lasting partnership with a horse, leasing might leave you hanging.

Buying a Horse: The Pros

  1. Full Control: You call the shots, whether it’s what vet to use or what snacks your horse gets. You have full control of all decision making for your horse.
  2. Long-Term Bond: Owning a horse lets you build a deep, long-lasting relationship.
  3. Availability: Your horse, your schedule. Want to ride at the crack of dawn or under the moonlight? No problem!
  4. Investment: Horses can be a financial investment. If you plan to lease your horse or pony once your child has outgrown it, the potential for ROI is there.
  5. A Forever Home: You have the peace of mind knowing you can provide a loving home for your equine buddy for the rest of his life.

Buying a Horse: The Cons

  1. Initial and Ongoing Cost: Horses aren’t cheap, and buying one requires a hefty upfront payment. In addition, the vet bills, farrier bills, and feed really add up. If you do not have a barn on your property, you will need to board your horse. Boarding expenses are not cheap; it compares to renting an apartment or even paying a mortgage!
  2. Full Responsibility: From health care to hoof picks, everything is on you.
  3. Long-Term Commitment: Horses can live up to 30 years or more. That’s a lot of hay, vet visits, and responsibility.
  4. Skill Mismatch: What if you outgrow your horse’s capabilities, or vice versa? It’s harder to switch things up when you own the horse.
  5. Resale Hassles: If circumstances change and you have to sell your horse, it can be a complicated and emotional process.

So, should you lease or buy? The decision really boils down to your personal needs, lifestyle, and of course, budget. Both options come with their own set of pluses and minuses, so weigh them carefully. Talk to other horse owners and leasers/lessees and ask them questions about their experiences.

Remember, whether you’re leasing or buying, the goal is to enjoy the ride and the incredible bond that comes with horse ownership.

Do you have any experience with leasing or buying? Have you discovered pros and cons that aren’t listed here? We would love to hear them! Drop us a comment and tell us about it.

Make sure you take a look at some of the other general equestrian posts we have written!


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