If you hang around this sport long enough you will start to hear rumblings about leasing a pony or a horse. Your first reaction will probably be “Excuse me? Did you say LEASE… an animal? You mean like a car?”, because that is what mine was. I had no clue this was even an option, what it meant, or why we would want to do it. So I am here to tell you about it.
My daughter was starting to get kind of serious with this whole horse thing. She had been taking lessons for about 7 months and was riding 1-2 times a week. Show season was creeping up on us and she was getting really excited to dive into that world too (that’s a whole different story). Her trainer mentioned a pony that had become available for lease that she thought might be a good fit for Savannah. P.S. your kid’s personality must match up with the horse as they start to become one and read each other’s minds. I asked her to give me some details on what exactly it meant to “lease a pony.” So basically, it IS like leasing a car, renting an apartment, and adopting a kid all rolled into one. My head was spinning.
This just seemed like a huge financial obligation that I didn’t know if we really needed. Can’t we just keep paying to come out and take lessons? Why do we need to do this part? Well, as it turns out it was a great step to take in our equestrian journey. You may notice I said OUR journey, and this is for 2 reasons. 1) At this point it really is the whole family’s journey. I feel like when you are making this big of a decision it is not just about your kid that happens to take riding lessons, you are making a big commitment both financially and with your time. 2) Additionally, this is what best suited us for Savannah. It may be better for your child to go a different route, and there are so many options!
The more research I did, the more I realized that if Savannah wanted to excel at this sport she would need a pony that was hers. She will grow (at least that is what I hear since she was only 7 at this point), so buying a pony seemed silly since in a few years she would need a bigger one. Maybe leasing wasn’t such a crazy idea. Leasing ensures that your kid has first dibs on that pony. When they come to the barn to lesson, no one else will be riding the pony they were hoping to that day, because she/he is theirs. Their bond will strengthen over time and your pony won’t learn bad habits from other riders that are more recreational.
Before you take this gigantic leap you want to make sure you have ALL the info you need to decide. There are a lot of different fees involved, and it probably varies a little by barn. Just have an idea what you will be responsible for so nothing surprises you and your checkbook. There is typically an annual fee you have to pay the owner of the pony in order to keep it for a year (like you pay a car dealer to take a car home). Then you must pay boarding fees to the barn where it’s housed. This is like rent – it pays for the pony’s food and shelter. Ok, so those are like planned regular monthly or annual fees. Additional items might include the vet, the dentist (did you know there are special horse dentists? Learn something new every day in horse world), the farrier (horses need shoes, and pretty often too, just like kids), and registration fees for certain organizations. Like I said, it’s a BIG commitment.
In order to make it worth your while, you are going to want to make sure you have the time to take advantage of this new member of your family. Depending on your trainer/barn you may be able to do a full lease (like no one else touches your horse) or half lease (where you share the time and cost with another rider). We opted for a half lease which means that Popsicle (that’s her pony) is ours 3 days a week. That helped us justify the cost and the time since it isn’t as extreme. Savannah was only in 2nd grade at the time and still takes piano lessons and does girl scouts. I didn’t want her to have to give up those other activities to make sure we were getting our money’s worth at the barn. It was a win-win.
Now we are starting our 2nd year with Popsicle and we wouldn’t have it any other way. I say that she is like my third child. They are the best of friends and are working better together every day. We can’t wait to see what this year will bring!
- Bobbi Bires, Equestrian Mom since 2016