Leasing a horse allows you to determine whether or not horse ownership is the right choice for you. Leasing also allows riders to develop a one-on-one relationship with a horse without actually having to spend money to purchase the horse or even pay the full cost of his care. If you are trying to find a horse to lease, ask several questions about the horse before you seal the deal.
Leasing a horse is not all that different from purchasing one. You want to know everything you can about that horse's history. Ask the owner to provide you with a full account of your horse's performance history, the more detailed the better. Don't be afraid to ask for a copy of the horse's show record, his registered name, and the names of the organizations and events where he has competed. You do not want to pay the lease on a show horse only to discover he has competed only a couple of times in a local or very low level show. Do not be afraid to ask for detailed information on riders and trainers who supposedly have worked with the horse. If you have questions about the horse's capabilities, reach out to those professionals and ask your questions.
Talk to the horse's veterinarian. Make sure to ask how long that veterinarian has been treating the horse and ask detailed questions about any procedures the horse has undergone. Have your own veterinarian look over the horse and his veterinary records for you, making sure that everything you know about the horse matches up with what the owner is telling you. Ask plenty of questions and pay attention to the answers you have been given. A horse with a medical history of lameness is likely to go lame again, regardless of what the owner says. A horse who has a long history of gastrointestinal problems may be a colicker. If your lease agreement has you paying the vet bills, you must take preexisting health problems into consideration before you sign that paperwork.
The lease needs to spell out every single aspect of the care of the leased horse, including who pays veterinary bills, who pays feed, who pays board and who foots the bills for whatever extras the horse requires to stay sound, healthy and happy. Make sure to find out what the owner considers to be regular maintenance. Chiropractic work and dental visits may not be a part of their regular program, but you will need to know if they expect you to schedule these appointments and foot the bills. Make sure you know what performance enhancing supplements the horse is taking and whether or not you are obligated to keep the horse on those supplements. Remember that you cannot ask too many questions, and that the more questions you ask, the less likely you are to find yourself surprised later on.
If an owner is trying to lease out a horse, be aware that they may not want to disclose information that does not paint their horse in a favorable light. Do not take one person's word on a horse's abilities or potential, especially when that one person is the person who will benefit the most from you leasing the horse. Double check everything the owner tells you about the horse. Ride him on multiple occasions to make sure that he is a good match for your capabilities as a rider. Find out what happens if the lease does not work out for whatever reason. Ask if you can terminate the lease or if you must finish out the leash even if the horse does not meet your needs.
Ralf Nau/Digital Vision/Getty Images
Jen Davis has been writing since 2004. She has served as a newspaper reporter and her freelance articles have appeared in magazines such as "Horses Incorporated," "The Paisley Pony" and "Alabama Living." Davis earned her Bachelor of Arts in communication with a concentration in journalism from Berry College in Rome, Ga.