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Alternatives To Horse Ownership
You love riding. You spend all your days at the barn soaking up as much horse as you can. The only problem? You donít have your own horse.
There may be any number of reasons why you havenít become an official horse owner. Perhaps you donít have the money right now for a horseís purchase and upkeep. Or maybe you lack the facilities. Perhaps you love to ride but have a busy work schedule that makes horse ownership not the best option.
Well, relax. You donít have to own a horse to enjoy riding. As a matter of fact, there are lots of great alternatives to horse ownership.
If money is the issue, there are lots of low-costóeven freeórides to be had. But be warned. What you lack in cash youíll have to make up for in commitment and riding ability. Horse owners who donít have the time to ride their horses are a dime a dozen. And they are looking for committed, capable riders that will give their horse a good work out without working him over. Your best bet is to make your availability known at shows, riding schools, and boarding facilities. Word of mouth is a great thing, so tell everyone you know you are looking to catch a ride. Pinning a flyer on a tack shop bulletin board is also apt to net you lots of calls. Be very realistic about your ability, and be sure that the horseís owner has watched you and gotten a recommendation or two regarding your skills before you commit. Up-front honesty will prevent hard feelings down the road.
If your skills arenít quite up to par, consider becoming a working student. As a working student, you do chores around the barn like muck stalls, feed horses, and clean tack in exchange for riding the barnís horses. Since the best working student opportunities come from riding academies with seasoned school horses, this is a great options for someone without a ton of experience, but with a lot of passion for horses.
Loaning and leasing are good options if you donít have the lump sum to buy a horse, but do have enough money for the monthly upkeep of a horse. How are loaning and leasing different? In a loan situation, the owner is usually looking for someone else to take care of the horseóas well as monthly expenses. No fee is exchanged up front, but you are expected to take care of expenses like feed, board, farrier bills, and sometimes even veterinary bills. Leasing differs from loaning in that you sometimes pay a fee for the use of the horse, in addition to paying for its upkeep. Leasing is a great option for a talented rider who canít afford a fancy horse, as it allows a rider a fairly low-cost way of riding a real contender in serious competition. A lease usually runs for a set period of timeómonths or yearsóagreed upon in advance by both the lessor and the lessee.
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