“The essential joy of being with horses is that it brings us in contact with the rare elements of grace, beauty, spirit and freedom.” ~Sharon Ralls Lemon
When I was about 10 years old I started taking horseback riding lessons in Michigan on a grey Arabian horse who was very kind and gentle. (A lot of horse owners would raise a brow at that statement, but he really was kind and gentle!) I took lessons on that horse for about a year and then started leasing him. Under my horse lease, I took him to many shows where we won lots of ribbons together and had so much fun. After a few years I decided that I wanted to own my own horse instead of leasing a horse or taking lessons. This was a big step that I’m not sure I was ready for. As an eleven year old, I had no idea what the difference was between owning and leasing a horse. I really didn’t know which was the better option for me. All I knew at that point was that I had a place in my heart for horses.
I owned a horse for three years through my middle school and early teenager years. When I entered high school, I decided to focus more on my studies and found my horse a good home with another rider. I learned a lot of things through through those younger years, but mainly three big differences between leasing and owning a horse.
1. While owning a horse takes major commitment, leasing allows you freedom to ride purely for fun. When my son turned six and started first grade last year full-time, I had the craving to ride again. I thought to myself, “I’m out of college, my child is in school and I have time to ride again!” I started taking lessons at a stable nearby in Carmel Valley, California, and then switched to one a bit closer to my house, in Del Mar. A horse at the new stable became available to lease, so I immediately took that opportunity. Now, after two months of leasing, I am contemplating finding a horse to buy. Buying is a lot different than leasing though, and this time around, it’s not my parents making the purchase. I need to think long and hard about this decision to ensure the best outcome for myself and any horse that I ride. Owning a horse means more time at the barn for sure.
2. Owning is expensive, but leasing a horse can be just as expensive if you do it for long enough. When you lease a horse you have the option of being able to ride without having the numerous expenses that come along with owning. With a lease, you normally are not responsible to purchase tack, such as a saddle or a bridle for the horse. When you own a horse you pay for all of the vet bills, food and the stall that your horse sleeps in (unless you keep your horse at your house!) Some barns have pastures where the horses are let out every day, and some barns only have stalls for the daytime and overnight. You pay a lot more, but you get to call the horse your own! When I was 11 and finally bought my own horse (with the help of my parents) I was so excited. She was an Arabian mare and I took her to the same shows that I had taken my leased horse to. I even took her to the week long county fair with my 4-H group! I was obsessed and totally in love with riding my own horse!
3. Owning a horse provides less stability in your life, but overall it creates enriched emotion. When you lease, you are responsible for brushing, cleaning, riding and having fun with the horse while you’re at the barn. That’s about all. Usually the leasing price is on a per month basis, and riders have a set amount of time that they can dedicate to riding when they lease. You can ride anytime based on your agreement with the owner. (Currently I ride the horse I am leasing two days a week.) Leasing a horse through a stable can save you a lot of money compared to buying, but if someone else wants to ride that horse more often, you can’t anymore. No matter how badly you want to. It is simply not your horse.
Owning a horse is a wonderful memory that I will cherish forever. Now that I have experienced both leasing and owning a horse, it is hard to decide what the best path is for me. I’ve been trying out different horses for sale this past week, and I love them all so far in their own ways. I am looking into different barns as well for space availability and quality of life. Let me know if you know of a great barn, or a wonderful horse for sale! Until I find the perfect horse, I will continue to lease, and smile knowing that either way, I get to be around horses and I LOVE it!!