optionsFor many people, outright ownership on a horse is not necessarily the best option. Many can’t afford the caliber of horse they want or need; others may not want to spend the money on a horse whose skill level they anticipate outgrowing; and some only foresee needing a horse for a fixed period of time. Under circumstances such as these, other options for acquiring a horse may be more economical and practical:
Lease a horse. You (typically) pay a monthly fee and the majority of monthly expenses, but you’re not going to be out of a large investment if the horse were to become injured, and you don’t have to worry about selling the horse when it’s time to move on.

- Lease with option to purchase. A good option for buyers who know they will be able to purchase the animal but need some extra time to gather funds.

- Co-ownership. Two buyers typically split both the purchase price and the maintenance costs on the animal. This often allows a buyer to own a higher quality horse than he or she be able to afford otherwise.

- Working student. If riding is your passion and you have the available time, a working student position could be an invaluable and affordable experience.

Regardless of which horse ownership route you choose to go, draw up a contract and get everything in writing! Sharing, leasing, co-owning, etc. a living, breathing animal can get complicated if the terms aren't clear and the details aren't in writing. Here's a guide to horse lease agreements provided by Equine Surety.

Have you had a good experience leasing or co-owning a horse? I have leased horses in the past for a few months or a season of horse showing. I got the opportunity to ride mounts I would not have otherwise been able to afford - so it definitely paid off for me.

Read more about different alternatives to owning a horse in this week's Thrifty Horsekeeping excerpt.