I’ve been leasing horses for a little over 18 months now. I’ve been doing what is called a ‘partial lease’, wherein the horse stays at home and the owner pays all the bills, and I ride the horse three or four times a week.
Leasing has its good and bad points.
No need to buy a horse trailer.
No need to own a lot of property.
The vet, farrier, feed, board and other fees don’t come out of your wallet.
You can ride when you want, within the terms of the contract you MUST have.
You can go on vacation, or just not ride at all for a while, without worrying about who’s going to babysit.
The money you save by not owning the horse can be spent on toys or new tack.
You aren’t confined to just that horse. You can change horses without having to sell it.
If you find that you and the horse just don’t click, you can move on to a different one.
By leasing several horses, you learn how to ride different horses.
Horse doctors make house calls.
Even when you know a horse would do better with a change of whatever: tack, farriers, feed, you cannot make the changes.
When you spend an inordinate amount of money on a good saddle that you then find doesn’t or no longer fits the horse.
The owner can turn out to be a butthead, taking your money and then nagging you or treating you like a moocher.
The owner may blame your handling for something the horse begins or stops doing.
The owner can also be the sort who totally ignores the horse, making you wonder why in the world he or she owns it in the first place. When the horse needs something (i.e. hoof care, medications, new tack), it’s almost impossible to get the owner to actually provide it.
When you find The Horse, the one that fits you to a T and who loves you more than his owner, and you know will never be yours.
Many times, the horse up for lease has ‘issues’. They are too hot or too old to ride, they have medical problems, or the owner wants the horse to be ridden only for lessons from her favorite trainer. Your saddle doesn’t fit him and you don’t want to ride in the owners. I’ve found horses for lease that are green broke-at 20-and the owner expects you to train the horse.
Leasing a horse is like getting into bed with a married couple. There’s nothing funny going on, but you still feel as if you’re ‘the other woman”.
In looking back at this, I find that the pros are all of the pragmatic, financially wise type and the cons are all of the personal, emotional type.
This sums up horse owning in general.
Were we horse people sane, we wouldn’t even own horses. They are incredibly expensive, need lots of open land, and large barns in which to sleep at night. They turn tons of expensive, labor intensive food into tons of worthless, even more labor intensive manure.
Horses are innately suspicious of anything new or strange. Despite their size, they can be timid as mice. You cannot convince them that sabertooths are extinct. They are subject to emotional upset that explodes into violent, often injurious reaction. Their stomachs are as delicate as a newborn baby’s, but unlike that of a newborn baby, their stomach routinely kills them.
Horses can easily outrun you.
You can no longer depend on a horse as your sole transportation; indeed, horse transport has turned into a very lucrative industry. In an increasingly urbanized and technological world, they still need old-fashioned, 1800’s era skills such as hoof trimming, hand forged and fitted horseshoes, and saddle fittings, skills that are more witchcraft than technology.
The things you need to ride them: saddles, boots, helmets, bits, bridles, breeches, are all very expensive. They need clothing (!), things like fly sheets and blankets that are heavy, expensive, and unwieldy. Laundromat owners do NOT like it when you sneak that filthy horse blanket into their big front loading wash machine.
Horses are big, smelly, athletic animals that are legally defined as livestock and yet are treated like house pets, making for zoning nightmares.
Are we nuts? Are we absolutely bonkers?
Well, yes. But only we understand that indescribable high we’re on after a good ride. Only we understand that rush of adrenaline when you ask for something like a jump or a piaffe, and succeed because you and your horse did it TOGETHER. Only we understand that bond, when a horse considers you his mare or her Mom. Only we understand that, while we know one should NEVER trust a horse enough to stand behind it and yank on its tail, we do it anyway, because My Horse Is a Good Horse. Only we understand that when accidents happen, they’re accidents, and not on purposes. Only we understand that mixed feeling of pain and pride, when we fall off and instead of him bolting for the barn, the horse looks down at you with a quizzical, “silly ape, what are you doing down there?”
Only we understand that indefinable bond, when your eyes meet his, and he nickers softly at you.
That’s why I lease. I cannot afford a horse, but I can’t afford NOT to have a horse.