Horse Ownership Alternatives

If you”ve decided to hold off on your decision to buy or if you”re still searching for the right horse, consider these choices:


Riding lessons are a great way to learn about caring for, handling and riding horses. Lessons give you the flexibility to try many different disciplines, from show jumping to dressage, or from barrel racing to reining. Another benefit of lessons is their relatively low cost. And they require only a minimal time commitment.


Yes, you can lease a horse. Many options are available when leasing. The horse”s owner usually determines the specific terms of the lease; however, some terms may be up for negotiation. Typically, a lease runs for an agreed-upon length of time, perhaps several months. The lease will probably spell out who can ride the horse and the activities in which the horse may participate during the term of the lease. Many horse owners offer leases with the option to buy the horse at the end of the lease.

The biggest benefit of the leasing alternative is that you have the opportunity to get to know the horse well and learn about his habits, health and talents. Most important, you”ll be able to determine whether you get along with the horse or have a personality conflict.


Sponsoring usually involves helping to subsidize the costs associated with horse ownership, usually for lessons at a stable or at a riding school. It”s quite a popular choice among the various horse ownership alternatives. You agree to pay a fixed amount and you”re entitled to ride the horse a certain number of times per month. The exact terms are worked out with the school or instructor.

Trade Work for Riding

The options listed above all require money. Spending money doesn”t make much sense if you”re scrimping and saving to buy your own horse. You might consider trading work for riding.

You can be sure that where there are horses, there is workand lots of it! Many barns and stables welcome workers they don”t have to pay with money. If you”re interested, call a local barn and ask to speak with the manager or owner.

Be prepared. Chances are you”ll have to prove yourself by cleaning stalls before you get promoted to the glamour jobs of polishing and cleaning tack.

Here are some tips for working with horses:

  • Learn the rules of the barn. Don”t enforce themjust follow them.
  • Wear layers. You can always take a few off if you get too hot.
  • Bring comfortable work gloves.
  • Bring something to eat and drink. You”ll need it.
  • Learn the names of all the horses and where they belong on the property.
  • Be prepared to work more hours than you ride.

If your time is too limited for this option, another alternative for learning new skills is volunteering at horse shows or with a local chapter of the 4-H or Pony Club.