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Leasing a Horse: Everything You Need to Know in 2024

Leasing a horse provides a similar experience to owning a horse while being much cheaper, and having less of a time commitment.  Horse leases are great for people who hope to one day buy a horse, but don’t want to jump into ownership right away, or who just want a few extra rides on a beloved lesson horse.

In this article, you’ll learn all about horse leasing, types of leases, and how to get started. Here’s a quick guide to skip through the sections of this post:

  1. What is a Horse Lease? – The benefits of leasing, and deciding if it is right for you.
  2. Types of Horse Leases – Learn about the three main types of leases.
  3. How to Start Leasing a Horse – Finding the right horse and lease situation.
  4. The Importance of a Contract – Why a lease agreement is needed and what is included in one.

What is a Horse Lease?

Leasing a horse gives you the opportunity to have extra access to a particular horse. You can think of it as a test run before buying your own horse, or a cheaper alternative to horse ownership. For parents of horse crazy kids, it can be a way to encourage a child’s hobby without the major investment of buying a first horse.

When entering into a lease agreement, the person who is leasing the horse is referred to as the “lessee.” The owner of the horse is referred to as the “lessor.” A lease is meant to be a win for both parties. It allows the lessee to have access to a horse they otherwise may not be able to have. It also takes some pressure off of the owner, while still allowing them to keep ownership of the horse. It also benefits the horse, since they will have a job to do, and get extra attention that their owner may not have the time to provide on their own.  

Benefits of Leasing

There are two main upsides to leasing a horse. The first is the financial aspect. Horses are very expensive to own, so leasing is a more affordable option for many people. A lease allows you to pay a set fee for a set amount of time to have access to a certain horse. There may be other expenses involved depending on the type of lease. It will still likely be less than if you were paying for your own horse. 

The second is from a responsibility standpoint. If you just want to be able to ride a horse more often without all of the extra responsibilities involved in their care, then a leased horse will be a better option for you. If you are hoping to buy your own horse one day, a lease will give you the chance to take on a little more responsibility until you feel ready to buy a horse of your own. 

Differences in Between Leasing & Buying a Horse

Leasing a horse does have many similarities to buying one. The main difference is that you do not have a long-term commitment when it comes to a lease. With a horse lease, you can simply not renew it when the agreement is up (which could be monthly or yearly, depending on the contract). If you and the horse end up being a particularly bad match, you also have the option to go back to the owner and break the lease. Since most people want the best for their horse, they will not want their horse to stay in a situation that isn’t working out. 

When you own a horse, the commitment is much longer. Owning a horse also means you get to make all of the decisions involving them and their care. If the horse you buy doesn’t work out, you can sell them. Finding the right buyer may not always be easy. Having a lot of decision-making power could be good or bad. It all depends on the amount of responsibility you are looking to have.   

A girl walks down a path with a horse she has leased.

3 Types of Horse Leases

There are different types of possible leases. You and the owner will have to agree on which type of lease will work best for both of you. There are three common types of leases used for horses.  

Half Leasing a Horse

One type of horse lease is called a half lease, or sometimes a partial lease. For these leases, you would pay an agreed upon amount of money to have access to the horse. There would be restrictions involved though. Most likely, you will be limited to a certain number of days you can ride the horse, and you will not have control over where the horse lives or their daily care.

These types of leases are popular with owners who still want to ride their horse occasionally, and want to keep them in their care. Half leases are cheaper since there is much less responsibility involved for the lessee. These leases are great for riders who are just starting to think about buying a horse of their own, but do not have a lot of previous experience. It will give you a chance to learn more about horse care, and see if you are ready to take on more responsibility.  

Full Lease

A full lease is very similar to owning the horse yourself. They are more expensive since they allow you to have unrestricted access to the horse for the duration of the agreement. These types of leases might allow you to board the horse at a location of your choosing, and give you the responsibility of providing feed and veterinary care.

Owners who choose this type of lease usually do not want to give up complete ownership of their horse, but they either do not have the time or the finances to care for and ride the horse themselves. These types of leases are great for riders who are nearly ready for horse ownership, or need a more affordable alternative to buying a horse.1 

Free Leasing a Horse

A free lease is similar to a full lease, except there is no fee involved. In these cases, the owner doesn’t want to give up their horse entirely, but they are most likely not in a position to properly care for the horse themselves.

This is often due to the expenses involved in owning a horse. In this case, they may seek out someone who is interested in taking on all of the day-to-day care and certain expenses of the horse with no additional leasing fee. This takes some of the financial burden off of the owner, and also lessens the expenses placed on the lessee, making it a more affordable option for both parties. 

How to Start Leasing a Horse

Once you have decided that leasing is the right option for you, it will be time to find the right horse. Much like when buying a horse, it will likely take some time to find the horse you fit with the best. After you find the horse, you will then want to focus on finding the right leasing setup that fits your needs and wants.  

Where to Find a Horse to Lease

Searching for a possible horse to lease is similar to finding one to buy. There are many places to start your search. One option is to look online for any horses available for lease in your area. If you are currently riding at a barn, you can check if anyone there is looking to lease their horse out, or may know of someone. You can also check at your local tack store. They will often have a board where people can post horses for sale or lease. The people working there might also know of someone with a horse available. 

How to Choose a Horse to Lease

When you are looking for a horse to lease, you will likely have to try out a few of them to find one that is a good fit for you. You will want to find a horse that fits the style you plan to focus on. Look for one that can do a variety of things if you are not sure which style you want. It is also important to find a horse that fits your skill level. If you choose a horse that is too far above your skill level, it could be dangerous for both you and the horse. 

Take a potential horse on a test ride before agreeing to a lease it. It is also suggested to have the owner ride the horse so you can see how they behave for someone they are comfortable with. A test ride will give you an idea if you and the horse are a good fit. If you are not already familiar with the horse and/or the owner, make sure to do your research before entering into an agreement. You don’t want to be surprised by any undisclosed bad behavior, or injuries.    

Leasing a Lesson Horse

Depending on the barn you are riding at and the number of horses they have available, leasing a lesson horse will probably be different from leasing a horse from someone else. Since lesson horses still have a job to do, a full lease will not likely include as much access and responsibility as it would in other situations.

More likely, you will have access to the horse a specific number of times during the week, and guaranteed use of the horse in lessons and at schooling shows. You will not be able to move the horse to another location, and will not have the responsibility of paying for feed and appointments.

In this case, a half lease and a full lease would refer to the number of additional days you have access to the horse (for example, a half lease may only give you one day plus a lesson, and a full lease may give you three days plus a lesson). 

Leasing a lesson horse could be a great option if you just want additional riding days and are still learning about horse care. It is also likely to be a less expensive leasing option. 

The Importance of a Contract

To make the horse lease official, you and the owner will need to come to an agreement, create a contract, and agree to payment. All of the details of the lease should be worked out before finalizing the agreement. The lease should always be fair to all parties involved.  

Lease Agreements

The most important part of any agreement is to get all of the details in writing. This is to protect everyone involved, including the horse. The lease should clearly state who the owner is, who is leasing the horse, the name and description of the horse, the duration of the lease, what each person is responsible for in regards to the horse, and how much the lessee is paying the owner in exchange for access to the horse.2

A good contract will ensure that everyone is on the same page and there will be no questions down the road about who is responsible for what. Both you and the owner should receive a copy of the signed agreement. 

A lease agreement is a legal document, so it is very important to have all of your questions answered before signing it, and make sure all of the details are clearly written out.  

The Horse’s Needs Come First

The welfare of the horse is the number one priority. It is very important that if the owner states the horse is only to be used for light riding due to their age or health reasons, then that rule must always be followed.

This is especially true in cases where a horse is loaned to someone else as a companion animal. These horses are usually no longer rideable, or can only be lightly ridden every now and then. Their purpose is as a companion to another horse, and they are loaned out with the understanding that they will not be worked. If they are ridden extensively, it could cause an injury to the horse. Any limits that are put on the horse should be included in the lease agreement. 

What it means to lease a horse

When people lease a horse, it means that they have the rights and privileges of horse ownership in a limited form. Leasing a horse is a legal agreement between a horse owner and a lessee which allows the lessee to ride and often even compete in horse shows with a horse that they do not own.

For example, if a lessee chooses to end a horse lease, they can generally do so without the complication involved in selling a horse. Parents of horse-crazy kids often lease horses just in case it is just a phase. Similar to an expensive musical instrument for a young prodigy, sometimes leasing a horse means access to a better horse than someone could afford to buy outright. A young rider with competitive ambitions might use leasing a horse in order to get access to a more competitive mount than they might be able to purchase right.

Leasing a horse is similar to renting a horse, although horse rental usually has a slightly different meaning, which you can learn more about in my article on renting a horse.


A lease could be a great option to look into if you want to take a step up from regular horseback riding lessons, but aren’t quite ready to buy a horse of your own yet. There are options when it comes to leasing. It can provide a great opportunity for you to improve your horse skills. It will also give you a chance to bond with a special horse.   

  1. Bhadurihauck, S., & Goeringer, P. (2017). Considerations for Equine Lease Agreements.   []
  2. Leigh Davis, K. (2008). The Everything Horse Book: Buying, Riding, and Caring for Your Equine Companion. United States: Adams Media. []

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