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How to Lease a Horse

By: Rebecca Sweat

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Are you considering buying a horse, but are unsure which breed is for you? Would you like to own a horse, but don't have the time to care for one on a regular basis? Do you enjoy riding, but can't afford to buy your own horse? If so, leasing a horse may be a good option for you. Here are some points to consider before you sign on the dotted line.

Leasing Options

Leasing comes in two main varieties: share-boarding and full leases. "With share-boarding, the owner leases his horse out to a lessee for riding on certain days each week," says Donna Ewing, founder and president of the Hooved Animals Humane Society. "On the other days, the owner may ride the horse himself or the horse may be leased out to a second lessee."

Share-Boarding

This is a good option if either time or money is limited on the part of the owner or the lessee. "Some people lease if they're really busy; they might not have a lot of time to exercise and care for a horse and by share-boarding they can still ride certain days but it's not an everyday thing," Ewing says.

Full Leases

They allow the owner to lease the horse completely and the lessee can ride the horse every day, just like it was his own horse. The owner may require the lessee to keep the horse on his property, or, in some cases, the owner will allow the lessee to move the horse to another location during the duration of the lease.

Often it's new riders who opt for full leases. "They may have just started riding and want to learn what horse ownership is about before purchasing a horse of their own," says Lori Maier, a horse trainer with Happy Trails Stables in Wauconda, Ill.

A full lease may come with an option to buy the horse at the end of the lease term. "By the time your lease expires, you will know if this is the horse for you or at least you will have a good idea of the qualities that you are looking for in a horse," Maier says.

Lease Terms and Fees

The terms of either type of lease are usually negotiable. A lease might be for a set period of time, such as a year or six months, or, it might operate on a month-by-month basis, in which case either the owner or the lessee can terminate the lease at any time.

The fee to lease a horse varies. "Expect to pay between $300 and $450 a month for a full lease on an average pleasure horse," Maier says. Normally the leasing fee covers the horse's monthly board, shoeing, and routine veterinary care. With share-boarding, the cost to lease will be about half that of a full lease. If the horse becomes seriously ill or injured, typically the owner will be responsible for the horse's veterinary bills.

Acquiring a Horse to Lease

How can you find a horse to lease? Contact boarding stables in your area to see if they lease out any of the horses they own. Check out "for lease" classified ads under the livestock heading in your local newspaper. Call local riding academies and horse trainers to find out if any of their clients are looking to lease out their horses.

When you find a suitable horse to lease, put all the details of the arrangement in a written contract that both you and the owner will sign. If the owner doesn't offer a contract, have an attorney draw one up for you. The agreement should cover the length of the lease and whether or not it's renewable; terms of payment; what may or may not be done with the horse; whether the agreement includes use of the horse's tack; and which party is responsible for veterinary and farrier (a person who shoes horses) bills. If you're share-boarding, the lease should state which days you'll have the horse and which days the owner or second lessee will be riding the horse.

Work out all the details ahead of time and put everything in writing. For example, make sure it is written into the lease exactly who is responsible for veterinary bills or other incidentals. This will give you peace of mind. In doing so, you better the chances that the following weeks or months will go smoothly for you, the owner, and your new equine companion.

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