Leasing a Horse

The Pros and Cons of Leasing vs Buying a Horse

Leasing a horse is an interesting concept. But what are the pros and cons of leasing vs buying a horse? At first it might seem like a strange idea to lease a horse. However, it really does have some huge benefits that are worth considering.

But first, I think it’s helpful to look at the notion that a horse is an investment. This can really be a distraction to making a fruitful decision.

Is Buying a Horse an Investment?

The definition of an investment is: The outlay of money for income or profit. Nine times out of ten, a horse is not an investment. The “investment” you are making when you spend money on a horse is in the rider. You’re investing in their education, their opportunity to compete, their fulfillment of a goal or dream etc.

The first question to ask yourself is, “How much money can I invest in the rider?” Then look for the horse and the structure that fits your individual financial constraints.

Leasing vs Buying is partly a question of Short-term or Long-term?

Anytime you’re purchasing a horse you should consider it a long-term relationship. So when deciding to lease or to buy ask yourself:

  • At this point in my riding do I need a horse that can provide a long-term partnership?
  • Do I need a horse that can help me get from where I currently am to my next goal?

This is especially true for junior riders. They will likely need different horses as they make their way through the divisions of competition. That puts their needs in the category of short-term and makes leasing a horse a good option to consider. Again, your “investment” is in seeing the rider progress not in earning a financial gain from the horse.

As a rider learns and grows the horse they are riding will likely need to change. Think of their horse as their teacher. The horse that is ideal to teach a rider to jump 3′ on is not typically the horse that will teach someone to do the Big Eq on. Equally, the horse that teaches someone to jump around a course at .90m is not typically the horse that teaches someone to jump the 1.20’s. As the rider’s needs change, the ideal horse changes. Again, this is where leasing can be a really great option.

Leasing a Horse: The Structure of a Lease

The lease fee for a horse varies based on the horse’s value. Also considered is the value of the job they can do for a rider. What you can expect:

  • A lease contract is typically structured in either 6 month or 1 year increments
  • The full lease fee is typically expected up front
  • Lease fees are not typically refundable (see Mortality clause for exceptions)
  • Leased horses are typically required to be in a professional training program
  • Leased horses are typically required to be stabled at an agreed upon location
  • The Lessee is expected to cover all expenses for the horse including insurance premiums
  • Leased horses are usually insured for both Major Medical and Mortality

A few quick things on the topic of insurance

The insurance policy should be in the name of the Lessor. The insurance company will require a copy of the lease agreement. As the Lessee you need to know what’s required of you in regards to reporting should there be a need to make a claim. Billing can go to either party. For more on this specific type of insurance check out our friends at Cunningham Livestock.

Deciding to Lease

Lease fees can seem expensive. But leasing a horse offers the chance to have a highly valued partner without the long-term commitment and risks of injury or loss. Again, this option can be really great for riders just starting out as they will progress quickly. Equally beneficial for competitive Junior or Amatuer riders with plans to move through the ranks of competition.

When Buying a Horse Makes Sense

As you consider the pros and cons of leasing vs buying a horse the big question really is the duration of your needs. If you’re looking for a long-term partnership then purchasing makes sense. If a horse will likely be a suitable partner for 2 years or more then I would choose to purchase. For anything less than 2 years, leasing is most likely the way to go. For more, check out my post Top 3 Things to Consider When Buying a Horse.

Providing Helpful Horsemanship skills to horse-people of all disciplines. Curated by Robin Martinez, a lifelong horsewoman with a passion for learning and teaching. Together with her husband Dionicio, they own Blackjack Farm in San Diego, CA where they train and compete their own jumping and dressage horses.