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It’s pretty much every horse lover’s dream to own a horse, but unfortunately, not everyone is able to do so. Since the initial purchase price is only a small part of the financial commitment it takes to own a horse, it’s understandable that more people don’t own horses. Riding is an activity that anyone should be able to enjoy if they want to, so here are some options for you if want to ride without actually owning a horse:

- Public trail rides. This is a great place to start, especially if you don’t have a ton of horse experience. The horses are generally tacked up for you, they are usually well-behaved and you can have a trail guide to assist you. Generally, you pay per ride, although there are some places you can ride by the hour. Every facility will have different trail packages so make sure you peruse your options.

- Lessons. The obvious choice for most, riding lessons are a great way to ride if you don’t own a horse. There are a lot of lesson facilities with a variety of prices so it’s good to shop around for what works with you, both financially and locationally. Riding lessons cater to all experience levels so they’re a good fit for pretty much anybody.

- Half-lease. This is a great way to have access to a horse without being fully responsible for the costs. A written agreement should be worked out as to what days and times you can ride the horse and how the expenses will be split up. 

- Full lease. Usually, you will have full access to the horse for a definite amount of money each month. It costs more money than a half-lease but you’re able to spend more time doing what you love. Of course, every situation is different and you might not necessarily have full access, but the general idea of a full lease is that you have more access than a half-lease. Responsibility for expenses varies based upon the agreement, but as always, make sure you get everything in writing.

- Find someone who needs an exercise rider. This may not be an ideal or even a suitable situation for everyone, especially those with less horse experience, but it is an option. Consider that it is probably best for a more experienced rider to take this route. There are many ways to go about doing this, but put the word out there that you are looking for someone who has a horse that needs some more miles on it. Make sure that the horse is suitable for your experience level and that you have a written agreement with the owner to define what exactly you’ll be doing. In this situation, you’re not responsible for any of the horse’s costs, but it can be a very limiting situation depending on the agreement. 

- Friends with horses. Obviously this isn’t an option for everybody, but there are a lot of people who somehow know someone who is involved in the horse world, and there’s no harm in putting the word out there that you’re looking for a horse to ride. It’s very important in this situation that the horse is suitable for your experience level and that you come to an agreement about access to the horse with the owner, and it wouldn’t hurt to get that in writing. 

Although horses can be an expensive hobby, career, or lifestyle, they are incredibly rewarding. Fortunately, you don’t have to own a horse to spend time with them or ride them. Try some of the above options and see if riding and owning horses is a good fit for you!

Emily Liebman
Horse Trainer/Instructor
Published on 2020-01-27