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I love leasing horses. It’s something I’ve done for years, and even now I lease a Thoroughbred mare. For me, leasing a horse has been an opportunity to practice my skills and build a connection with the horse. There’s been many aspects of my life (frequent moves, limited time) that have made buying a horse of my own at this time a decision I’m not ready for. 

If you’re considering buying or leasing a horse, I highly encourage you to check out this guide. I’ll share a few tips from my horse leases over the last decade and a half. Whether you need information on deciding if leasing a horse is right for you, finding a horse, or communicating with their owner, I’ve got you covered. 

Let’s get started! 

What Does It Mean to Lease a Horse?

Leasing a horse is a great way to enjoy the benefits of horse ownership without all the financial and time commitments. When you lease a horse, you are essentially renting the horse from the owner for a specified period of time. In return, you agree to pay the owner a (usually) monthly fee. Most of the time, you’ll also take care of the horse’s basic needs, such as feeding, grooming, and exercising.

There are different types of leases, each with its own benefits and drawbacks. A full lease gives you sole use of the horse and full responsibility for its care. This is the most expensive type of lease, but it also gives you the most control over the horse’s training and riding schedule. A half lease allows you to share the horse with another person. This is a less expensive option, but you will need to coordinate your riding schedule with the other person. A shareboarding arrangement is similar to a half lease, but you and the other person each pay for your own share of the boarding costs.

No matter what type of lease you choose, it is important to have a written agreement with the horse’s owner. This agreement should clearly outline the terms of the lease, such as the monthly fee, the horse’s care responsibilities, and the termination process.

Leasing a horse can be a great way to experience the joy of horse ownership without the financial and time commitments. By doing your research and choosing the right type of lease, you can find a horse that is a perfect fit for you and your lifestyle.

A girl in blue holding the horse she leases

The Different Types of Leases 

There are three main types of horse leases that I’ve come across during my time in the equestrian world: 

Full Lease 

This is one the most common types of lease. As the full lessee, you have sole use of the horse and are responsible for all of its care. This includes paying for board, vet care, and farrier services. Some people might lease a horse at the stable where the owner keeps it, while others might opt to move the horse to their barn. 

Half Lease 

In a half lease, you share the horse with another person, perhaps the owner or another lessee. You will typically ride the horse on alternate days each week. You may or may not also be responsible for paying half of the horse’s care costs.


This is essentially a variation of the half lease. In a shareboarding arrangement, you and the other person share the cost of boarding the horse, but you each have your own individual riding schedule.

Why Lease a Horse?

There are many reasons why you might consider leasing a horse. Here are a few of the most common reasons:

Less expensive than owning a horse: Owning a horse can be very expensive, especially if you factor in the cost of board, vet care, and farrier services. And that doesn’t include things like halters, saddles, bridles, girths, brushes, fly spray… you get the idea. 

Leasing a horse can be a much more affordable option. Leasing horses over the years has allowed me to keep building my skills while at points in my life where I wouldn’t be able to afford a horse of my own. 

When you’re not paying for every aspect of horse ownership, you also have the ability to invest in lessons, workshops, shows, and more to improve your skills. 

Builds confidence and skills: Leasing a horse can be a great way to build your confidence and skills as a rider. You will have the opportunity to ride a variety of horses and learn different disciplines.

Choosing a horse to lease is a great next step, especially if you’re ready to keep building your riding skills but not ready to buy a horse of your own. 

Not a lifelong commitment: Leasing a horse is not as much of a commitment as buying a horse of your own. If you decide that horse ownership is not for you, you can simply terminate your lease.

If you’re in middle school or high school and are considering college, for example, leasing a horse may be a better option since you might not yet be sure if you’ll continue with horses through college and beyond. 

Who Should Consider Leasing a Horse?

Leasing a horse can be a good option for people of all ages and experience levels. However, there are a few groups of people who may be particularly interested in leasing a horse:

Riders looking to progress their skills: Leasing a horse can be a great way for semi-experienced riders to take their riding skills to the next level. You will have the opportunity to learn from an experienced horse owner and ride a variety of horses.

Kids who might outgrow a pony: If you have a horse crazy kid, you might be looking into purchasing a pony or horse for them. Keep in mind that your kid will grow! They might become too big for their mount, or they might outgrow their interest in horses. I know, it’s a hard pill to swallow that your kid might not love horses as much as you. But it’s really important to think about. 

People with busy schedules: If you have a busy schedule, leasing a horse can be a great way to enjoy the benefits of horse ownership without having to commit all of your free time to caring for a horse. This has been great for me: in this season of life, I’m very busy and not sure if I’ll live in this area forever. 

People who are not sure if they want to own a horse: If you are not sure if you want to own a horse, leasing a horse can be a great way to try it out before you make a commitment. If you’re at all considering horse ownership someday, leasing a horse could be a great way to get your feet (er… hooves?) wet before taking the plunge. 

People who want to try different disciplines: If you are interested in trying different breeds or disciplines of horseback riding, leasing a horse can be a great way to do it. You can lease different horses to experience a variety of techniques and riding styles.

Leasing a Horse vs Owning a Horse 

Not sure if horse leasing or ownership is right for you? I’ve put the pros and cons into a list so you can see them laid out side by side.


Leasing a Horse

 Owning a Horse

Financial Commitment

Lower initial cost and ongoing expenses

Higher initial cost and ongoing expenses


Shared responsibility with the lessor

Sole responsibility for all aspects of care


Greater flexibility to switch horses or disciplines

Limited flexibility due to long-term commitment

Care and Maintenance

May have support from the lessor or facility

Full responsibility for all care and maintenance

Decision Making

Limited decision-making power over the horse

Complete control over training, care, and competition


No ownership equity or potential for resale

Potential for ownership equity and resale value

Training and Skills

Opportunity to learn and improve skills

Full control over training methods and horse development

Risk and Liability

Potentially lesser risk and liability in case of accidents

Full risk and liability in case of accidents or injuries

Emotional Attachment

May not develop the same level of attachment

Strong emotional bond and connection with the horse

Steps in the Horse Leasing Process 

If you think leasing a horse might be the right choice for you, there are a few things to consider as you begin the process of looking for a horse to lease. Here’s a brief overview of the steps involved: 

Do Your Research 

Before you lease a horse, it is important to do your research and find a horse that is a good fit for you. Consider your riding experience, your goals, and your budget. Have someone like a trainer evaluate your abilities and let you know what level you’re at. You’ll also need to do a lot of research to find the right horse. More on that in the next section. 

Meet the Horse

Once you have found a potential horse, be sure to meet the horse in person. This will give you a chance to see the horse’s personality and temperament and to make sure that you are a good match. It’s a great idea to take your trainer along with you to let you know what they think of the horse as a fit for you. 

Talk to the Owner

It is also important to talk to the horse’s owner. This will give you a chance to ask questions about the horse’s history, its care needs, and the terms of the lease.

Get a Written Agreement

Once you have agreed to lease a horse, it is important to get a written agreement. This agreement should clearly outline the terms of the lease, such as the monthly fee, the horse’s care responsibilities, and the termination process.

How to Find a Horse to Lease 

Finding a horse that’s the right fit for you is crucial. If you end up with the wrong horse, you risk a lease that’s frustrating and even dangerous. Here’s what I’ve learned about finding a horse to lease over the years:

Talk to Owners and Trainers 

Chances you, you already have a bit of an equestrian network. Do you have a friend or relative who owns a horse? Ask them if they know of anyone with a horse to lease. 

If you take lessons, your trainer is another great resource. They might have other students or work with different horse owners you don’t yet know. 

Find a Facebook Group for Your Area 

It seems like there’s a Facebook group for everything these days, horses included! This makes finding a horse to lease a heck of a lot easier than it was in my teenage years. I’m part of a local Facebook community for horse people in my town in Pennsylvania, and it’s great to see people post ads of horses for sale, share resources and events, and more. 

Once you join a local Facebook group, post a clear message expressing your interest in leasing a horse. Make sure you provide details about your experience, preferred discipline, and any specific requirements you have. Make sure you also check the group regularly for any posts from horse owners or trainers advertising horses available for lease. Pro tip: include a picture to draw attention. Many of these groups see a dozen posts a day and you want your post to stand out! 

Attend Local Horse Events 

Going to local horse events, such as competitions, clinics, or horse expos, can lead to opportunities for riding horses available for lease. Don’t be afraid to strike up conversations with fellow riders, trainers, and horse owners during these events. You can mention that you’re interested in leasing a horse and ask if they know of any horses that might be available. Even if they don’t know of any currently up for lease, they may keep you in mind if they come across any opportunities. 

Keep your eye out at tack stores too! Pretty much every tack store I’ve ever been to has a bulletin board up. You might find a horse for lease there, or consider posting your own ad (with the tack store owner’s permission, of course). 

Put an Ad on Craigslist 

I don’t necessarily condone this method for everyone, but it’s been successful for me in the past. I actually learned about this from a friend of mine. When she moved to a new area, she put an ad on Craigslist saying she was looking for a horse to lease and outlined her experience. She also included a picture of her riding to get attention. 

I’ve done the same thing, and it’s worked. It might take some time though, so be patient. You also run the risk of randos reaching out to you, so make sure you don’t post any personal info and use the Craigslist provided email address for going back and forth until you’ve established trust. If you use a picture, don’t include your face. 

This is important for finding lease options on social media too, but even more so on Craigslist where there aren’t accounts attached to profiles. It’s totally fine to have a brief phone call or Facetime the person before meeting. And when you meet the person for the first time, meet in a public place and bring a friend or two with you. Safety first. 

Visit Barns in Your Area 

You’ve probably driven past some “dream barns” near you. If all else fails, you can always go to the barn and talk to people there. I’ve done this. If you choose this option, always be polite and respectful of people’s time. Most equestrians are happy to answer questions and point you in the right direction, but they’re also very busy people. 

You might be able to connect with people there looking to lease their horse, or talk to a trainer who has contacts around your region. 

What to Consider When Putting Together a Horse Lease Agreement 

Obligatory disclaimer here: don’t take any of the following as legal advice, etc when you’re drawing up contracts for leasing a horse. Every horse lease is different, and it’s up to you and the owner to come up with a leasing agreement that makes sense for both of you. 

But here are a few things you might keep in mind as you come up with an agreement: 

The type of lease: There are three main types of horse leases: full lease, half lease, and shareboarding. Each type of lease has its own benefits and drawbacks, so it is important to choose the type that is right for you.

The length of the lease: The length of the lease will depend on your individual needs and preferences. If you are only interested in leasing a horse for a short period of time, a month-to-month lease may be a good option. If you are looking for a longer-term arrangement, a year-long lease may be a better choice.

The monthly fee: The monthly fee will vary depending on the type of lease, the horse’s age and breed, and the cost of boarding. It is important to negotiate a fair fee that both parties are comfortable with.

The horse’s care responsibilities: The lease agreement should clearly outline who is responsible for the horse’s care. This includes feeding, grooming, exercising, and veterinary care.

The termination process: The lease agreement should also include a termination process. This should specify how much notice is required to terminate the lease and what happens if either party breaches the agreement.

Other important considerations: The lease agreement may also include other important considerations, such as insurance, liability, and the use of the horse for competitions.

It is important to have a written lease agreement that outlines all of the terms of the lease. This will help to avoid any misunderstandings or disputes down the road.

If you’re not sure where to start, here’s an example of a 4H lease agreement that could serve as a jumping off point. 

Here are some additional tips for putting together a horse lease agreement:

Get everything in writing: A verbal agreement is not legally binding, so it is important to get everything in writing. This includes the type of lease, the length of the lease, the monthly fee, the horse’s care responsibilities, the termination process, and any other important considerations.

Use clear and concise language: The lease agreement should be written in clear and concise language that both parties can understand. Avoid using jargon or technical terms.

Have both parties sign the agreement: Once the lease agreement is complete, both parties should sign it. This will help to ensure that everyone is in agreement with the terms of the lease.

Keep a copy of the agreement: It is important to keep a copy of the lease agreement for your records. This will come in handy if there are any disputes or misunderstandings down the road.

A girl saddling a leased horse

How to Make the Most of Your Horse Lease 

You’ve done it– you’ve found the perfect horse to lease! It’s great to have your hard work pay off, but your efforts don’t stop once you’ve signed the lease papers. Being proactive about communication and continuing to grow your riding skills will go a long way. 

Maintain Communication with the Owner 

Although your lease horse might feel like yours, it still belongs to its owner. Open communication is crucial. If something seems off, you will want to let the owner know as soon as possible. For example, if I notice my lease mare is off while riding or has any bumps or bruises from being out in the pasture, I text her owner right away. 

Staying in touch shouldn’t just be for when things are going wrong! I love texting the owner updates about when her mare is doing particularly well or sharing some photos of what we’re working on. 

Keep Up With Your Riding Lessons 

Even if you’re riding a lease horse a few days a week, nothing compares to lessons and expert coaching. Some people go through a phase where they neglect riding lessons once they start leasing a horse (once upon a time, I was this person too). 

If you’re not challenging yourself, it’s hard to progress, even if you are riding frequently. It’s just like they say, perfect practice makes perfect. Make sure you have someone to help you make sure your foundational skills and further practice is fine-tuned. Your horse (and your horse’s owner) will thank you. 

Frequently Asked Questions About Leasing a Horse 

Can you lease a horse as a beginner?

It’s not normally a good idea to lease a horse if you’re a beginner. Taking lessons with a professional who can provide feedback on your technique will help make sure you have a good foundation in place. 

Does a horse lease include tack? 

I can’t speak for all horse leases, but every lease I’ve had has included things like the saddle, bridle, grooming equipment, etc. Make sure you’re clear with the horse’s owner before you start. If your horse’s owner and you are different sizes, you might consider getting a saddle that fits you more comfortably. 

How much does leasing a horse cost? 

You can usually expect to pay $100-$300 per month for a half lease.  A full lease is normally $300-$600 per month. Please keep in mind that the cost of leasing a horse can vary depending on the type of lease, the horse’s age and experience, and the location. You’ll pay far more in New York than you will in Ohio, so it’s hard for me to give an exact number here. 

Is leasing a horse cheaper than owning one?

In general, leasing a horse is cheaper than owning one. The cost of leasing a horse can vary depending on the type of lease and the location. However, in most cases, leasing will cost less than the monthly expenses of owning a horse, such as board, feed, and vet care.

What are the benefits of leasing a horse?

There are many benefits to leasing a horse, including:

 Lower cost: Leasing is a more affordable option than owning a horse.

Less commitment: Leasing is a less long-term commitment than owning a horse. You can typically terminate a lease agreement with a few months’ notice.

Flexibility: Leasing allows you to have the benefits of horse ownership without the same level of commitment. You can lease a horse for a specific period of time, or you can terminate the lease at any time.

Opportunity to try different horses: Leasing allows you to try out different horses to find one that is a good fit for you.

What are the risks of leasing a horse?

There are a few risks associated with leasing a horse, including:

Limited control: As a lessee, you will have limited control over the horse’s care and training.

Financial risk: If the horse is injured or becomes sick, you may be responsible for the costs of veterinary care.

Termination risk: If the owner terminates the lease agreement, you may have to find a new horse to ride.

What should I look for in a horse lease agreement?

Make sure you have a horse that’s right for your skills and ability. When you put together an agreement, put everything in writing and make sure you clearly outline what you’ll be responsible for. 

How do I terminate a horse lease agreement?

If you need to terminate a horse lease agreement, you should do so in writing. The written notice should specify the date on which the lease will terminate. You should also return the horse to the owner in good condition.

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