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A Time To Lease

leasing a horse offers you the opportunity to be more competitive in the show ringLeasing a horse offers you the opportunity to be more competitive in the show ring. // Photo by Allie Layos

Many people are familiar with the concept of leasing when it comes to cars, but did you know that you can also lease a horse?

Not all barns offer lease programs, but if yours does, and you like the consistency of working and building a partnership with just one horse rather than multiple school horses, it may be a great way for you to take the next step in your riding journey. Here are a few ways to tell if the time is right for you to lease.

The school horses aren’t challenging you anymore.

School horses are amazing, as they patiently put up with countless novice riders in a week. But by necessity, most school horses are less responsive than other horses, because they have to ignore a lot of muddled or unintentional cues. Avery Scheurich, assistant trainer/instructor at Cascade Stables in New Orleans, said there comes a point where a rider needs to learn to ride a more responsive horse.

“There’s only a certain amount you can teach them on the school horses,” she said. “They’re so desensitized that eventually they really need a horse that’s a little more fine-tuned.”

rulesIf your instructor is running out of things to teach you on the school horses, or you don’t feel challenged anymore, it might be time to lease.

You want to be more competitive.

As a general rule, school horses aren’t meant to be fancy. That doesn’t mean that you’ll never find a fancy school horse, but their job isn’t to be fancy – it is to teach.

None of the lesson horses at Cascade Stables are typical saddle seat breeds such as Saddlebreds or Morgans. They are all grade horses, so at Cascade when a rider wants to start showing saddle seat seriously, it’s time for that rider to lease a horse. Barbe Smith, owner and trainer at Cascade, said that the lease horses at Cascade are all fancy enough to compete at major horse shows.

“We tell them it’s time for them to start showing and we have several horses in the barn that we can lease to people,” Barbe said. “Some people jump on it. Some people save it for Christmas presents.”

Unlike Barbe, Kent Swalla, owner and trainer at Glendale Stables in Columbia, Missouri, does have Saddlebreds in his lesson program, but even those wonderful horses can only take a rider so far.

“We have a wonderful mare – she’s honest, she’s going to go in and do her job and she’s going to come out of the ring, but that’s all she’s going to do,” Kent said.

If a student or parent desires a shot at higher ribbons with a more competitive horse than is available in any given lesson string, Kent believes that it may be time for them to lease a horse.

You’re serious about advancing your skills.

making a personal connection with one specific horse is one of the joys of leasingMaking a personal connection with one specific horse is one of the joys of leasing. // Photo by Allie LayosIf you have a real desire to grow as a rider, there will probably come a point when you will dream of not having to share a horse with a dozen other riders. While there is great value in starting your riding career on school horses, this desire is understandable. Having the chance to work closely and build a partnership with one specific horse is a great learning experience, and will teach you a lot of lessons about riding, showing, and about life.

“You can tell the kids that really love it and want to learn,” Avery said. “Those are the kids that I find are more willing to step up and go further.”

If you regularly find yourself desiring a personal journey with a horse, separate from that of other riders, it may be time to lease a horse.

You/your family can afford it.

Leasing a horse costs less than owning a horse because you don’t have to come up with a lump sum for the purchase price, but it does involve significant monthly expenses.

Each barn offers different leasing options and prices, but as a general rule, the monthly cost of a full lease usually isn’t too far behind the monthly cost of owning a horse – often $900 for board and training, plus shoeing bills, vet bills, and sometimes insurance bills. However, some barns offer half-leases, which helps lower the cost. If you have the desire and the financial ability to take on these expenses, it might be time to lease a horse.

Leasing a horse is a great opportunity to experience a lot of the joys and challenges of horse ownership without actually purchasing a horse. It’s said that there is a time for everything, and if any of the above points apply to you, the time for leasing may be right.

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