Guest Author - Susan Hopf
In these tough economic times it may be difficult to conceive of supporting a horse as part of your life. However a big pair of brown eyes and a soft muzzle may be just the thing you need to maintain your positive outlook. Entering into this rather costly endeavor may seem out of the question as is, perhaps, the ability to keep an old-time equine friend but there is an option that helps on both sides of this equation leasing.
Leasing can cut the costs on both sides. There are no set rules for setting up a contract to share a horse the particulars are usually arranged to benefit both the leaser and owner on an individual needs basis. A word of caution here even if leasing from a good friend a contract should be in written form and signed by both parties and should include who pays for what. Consider the following stipulations what is the lease fee? (usually a percentage of the boarding costs); are regular vet visits the owners responsibility or are these split too?; Who is responsible for injuries or emergencies?; farrier work if the horse needs shoes to accommodate a leasers aspirations the leaser should cover those costs; if the horse already wears shoes or does well without are these fees split? Also consider setting up a schedule who rides on what days this way the horse is not worked twice in one day and then idle for too many days in between. A well thought out and written contract will help dispel and resolve any conflicts that should occur regarding responsibilities for costs and/or care.
From the perspective of the leaser any horse in consideration should meet your experience level and you must be very honest when disclosing such. Unfortunately, despite assumable risk laws, liability is still an issue to take seriously and all horse enthusiasts must do their part to keep these risks to a minimum better to keep the insurance companies from howling at your door.
To make it worth your while and for the sake of the horses health be prepared for a set weekly schedule as neither horse nor human are well served by intermittent rides. This can be taxing on large equine muscles and lungs. If you crave only an occasional ride I would suggest you seek out a barn that does hourly trail riding as a business an enjoyable time and far less of a commitment.
Those of you that are perhaps between horses may have your own tack. If so you must make sure that it fits the horse as well as obtaining permission from the owner to use any such equipment. Horses, despite their size, are very sensitive to change and having a saddle or even a pad or a bit switched can cause innumerable problems. If your tack does not fit then the owner will usually agree to supply tack that does.
Costs vary greatly depending upon the area of the country, discipline and the type of stable in which the horse is housed. Backyard barns are usually at the low end of the money spectrum but typically have few amenities to offer such as an indoor arena although many backyard barns are close to lovely equestrian parks with abundant trails and buddies with whom to share your riding. Busy lesson barns can be quite costly but can offer indoor riding, jumps, gymkhana equipment as well as lessons and training. Whatever the going rate in your neck of the woods count on anywhere from 1/3-1/2 the total cost of caring for the horse for a partial lease. This includes board, farrier, vet services and maybe even a lesson schedule.
From the perspective of the owner this is a great way to help out with the increasing costs of keeping a horse in this downsized economy. Most partial leases will offset anywhere from 1/3-1/2 of your total costs. Another benefit is being able to spend less time at the barn. A responsible and dedicated leaser who is willing to comply with your training and schooling regime can be a great advantage to anyone with kids, demanding careers, elder care concerns and many other bits of life that get in the way of our horse time.
There are many venues to find a suitable arrangement for leasing a horse. Check the bulletin board in your local tack shops and feed stores. Take out an ad on craigslist. Stop in at that busy lesson barn, take a few lessons and ask around or check out www.horseleaseconnection.com. And last but not least ask, ask, ask, anyone anytime for information regarding your interest in either finding a horse to lease or partially leasing your own horse you never know where horse people may be lurking.