Riddle me the benefits of a lease vs purchase?

True, but with the lease, you have an exit date on which all your financial liability ends and you can look for another horse. When you own an injured, unrideable horse, all bills continue indefinitely, possibly meaning you have nothing to ride. If you have property and/or resources to keep an unrideable horse and still continue riding, its less of an issue.



All horses will sooner or later need retirement. If you lease, you don’t have to worry about pensioning a horse.


Yup. This is part of the reason why I bought a schoolmaster jumper earlier this year. I’m having a blast on him at the moment, but I know he’s going to earn his purchase price back tenfold once he’s taught me his playbook. :slight_smile:

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Over the years I have leased two nice hunters - one an 18 yr old stepping down to Adult Ammy, at time when I was pretty new to hunters. given his age( and value) the fee was not horrible. Some years later leased a lovely warmblood - this was care lease while my mare was on lay up - knew the owner, she had him for sale, (long cold) winter was coming and we got talking at a cocktail party- after several cocktails. :rofl:
I leased a dressage horse more but that’s a whole different market.
Some thoughts - what is your horse budget if you were to buy? Lets just say xx thousand dollars. Take a little time now to “window shop” and see what that budget can get you. Read ads, look at videos, get some market knowledge.

Think about not just your wants but your skill set and riding knowledge. Can you bring along a green horse? Are you ok with an older horse? Are you ok with paying for training help if new beast has quirks you only found after writing the check?

At the same time keep in mind that when you do real shopping, you may end up with more than one PPE before you get the horse you want.

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Jumping onto the fray here…

Purchase and full lease (with hefty lease fees) are not your only options. There are also, depending on your skill level and goals, other options if you can find them.

  • Free lease/care lease of a good horse that comes with limits or risk (older and nearing retirement but can’t still do job, prone to colic but okay with management, etc). Friends have leased an amazing mare who fits in this box over the years and all have been happy with her.

  • Lease-to-own is a great option if you can find it. That’s how I got my horse. Typically easier to find in house, but I have friends who have found that arrangement with off-farm leases as well that came to live with us. Probably will depend a lot on your trainer’s relationships. It’s a great option if you are on the fence and/or don’t want to or cannot outlay the cash all at once. There is usually a clock that starts ticking though… if you don’t pull the trigger by whatever date then horse returns to owner and you lose your investment like with a normal lease.

Happy horse shopping and good luck!

Thank you! All good questions. I have thought through a few of them before and my answers are what are pushing me maybe towards the lease market.

I’ve been very causally window shopping for quite some time and unfortunately all that’s lead to is seeing prices creep up and up. If I were to buy tomorrow, I have a modest budget (lowest of low fives), but from what I am seeing these days that budget might get me something quite green that has maybe been started over fences and has potential to be somewhat athletic (like, comfortably jump around 2’6-2’9 courses one day. I don’t think I’m much braver than that lol).

To be totally transparent, I am shopping in eventer land. Lower level eventing and maybe dabbling in some jumpers is where I’d like to end up.

That being said, I am not really shopping for fancy or movement. Even with that in mind, I am noticing that the horses who are AA friendly and will not need a full time training program to keep them sane are creeping up and out of budget - even the green ones. Again, part of why I’m considering the lease option. I really don’t want to be influenced to stretch my budget beyond what I’m comfortable with and realistically there is just not a lot out there in my comfy range.

Whew, word vomit! All that to be said, the more I am thinking about it and getting input the more I think a full lease may be a better place for me to start than trying to buy, especially right now. Of course, horses mean the world to me and are my joy, but there is no point in rushing into a purchase situation that I might not be as financially prepared for as I’d like to be.

@erinmeri I’m glad you mentioned those options! I’m definitely open to them as well, I think they just happen to be harder to come across sometimes. So I guess I’m preparing for the reality of what if a paid lease is my only option, but I’d love to explore those too if something came along that was just right.

If you’re shopping in that market - does that mean your goal is eventing and dabbling in jumpers? Regardless, you may want to post your questions (and budget level) in the Eventing forum, since H/J markets are different. If I understand correctly, the eventing world often goes for TBs that have the blood and willingness for cross country, and those can often be had at lower prices than horses in H/J land, which these days skews more towards WB types, and where prices are high as a rule.


In this environment, budgeting not just for sale price but factoring in continuing training/ lessons/schooling and not forgetting continuing vet, farrier and ongoing supplements/meds can be sobering. whether you buy or lease.

IMO if you have to stretch to make the purchase price and settle on green needing much regular training or needing ongoing maintenance to get down to that orice? Leasing may make more sense, after all, the saying the purchase price is the cheapest part of horse ownership has always been, justified and more so now.

Maybe leasing something more finished and having a good sized horse fund to cover lessons, a few shows, farrier and vet bills and, worst case, a 20-30% raise in board over the next couple of years or required additional service charges makes more sense.

Be real careful selecting your barn and trainer too, don’t assume they are solvent and will be there forever.

BTW not trying to be negative Nellie here but the boarding situation is the worst Ive seen, including the 70’s recession, gas price explosion and then runaway inflation, the 80’s IRS Hobby Loss rewrite that ran many out of business, tech bubble burst creating instant paupers, 911, real estate collapse, Great Recession and now this. Had horses through all of them,

Board went up, all services went up and never came back down every time. This is worse. Need a horse emergency fund and its not a good time to be “ horse poor” .


@findeight yep, I totally agree. It was a bit of a slap in the face thinking that ok, once I get out of school and get going in a good job, I’ll finally be able to afford a horse like I’ve been looking forward to for so many years now.

Well, I moved to a rather urban area, worldwide market went crazy, and here we are. Seems even more unattainable than it did before. But, I’m well aware that horses are a huge privilege and to even have enough disposable income to be considered “horse poor” is better off than most. So I’m ok waiting - nobody owes this to me. I like coming here for a good dose of realism. It’s easy to get caught in the feel goods and the “I can make it work” but think it’s really good to stay in touch with what the reality of the situation is right now.

If you’re not in a huge hurry, a lot of horses go on the lease (and sale) market in mid-late summer as kids head off to college.

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Another tangential question: what is typical for a lease as far as tack? Say, if horse doesn’t come with a saddle or saddle doesn’t fit you all that well, do you usually buy your own saddle to fit you and the horse for the duration of the lease? Lease/rent a saddle?

I have never heard of a lease horse coming with a saddle. In my barn, it seems that all lessors have been responsible for all tack except a halter and maybe bridle. Mine had a turnout halter only. I bought all the other stuff - saddle, bridle, bits, martingales, boots, wraps, fly sheet, sheets, blankets…

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For a full lease you will be expected to provide your own saddle and tack. If the horse was a super funky fit and had very specific saddle needs maybe the lessor would send a saddle but I don’t think I’ve ever heard of it?

I find the expectation in most H/J programs is that riders provide their own saddle… I usually see people pick up an older, quality used saddle that is likely to fit lots of the type they are riding while lessoning/half leasing, then look for something that fits their horse specifically when they move to full leasing or buy.

I think a partial exception to this would be an in-barn lease/half-lease. If my horse was staying in my barn to be leased, I wouldn’t mind his regular tack, blankets, etc., accompanying him.


Biggest benefit to a lease…NOT on you if a horse comes up as having EDM. You can walk away with far less financial loss.

This would likely be one thing I would consider in the future. I cannot imagine buying a horse knowing what I know now. There just aren’t enough tests to make me feel warm and fuzzy about 5 figure plus risks.



With your modest goals, I would look for either, and see what comes up as your best option. An older horse that isn’t able to keep up with his current owner might be a great lease option for you, and won’t cost a fortune. I don’t think there is a reason to lock in to either option while still looking!

Agree 100%, at least for the half lease. Not sure about the saddle - would depend on if saddle fits rider and if horse is hard to fit, etc.