By Jordan Kelly

Buying or leasing a horse is an important stepping stone in your equestrian path, because it opens doors that aren’t necessarily available when you’re taking lessons on a school horse. But before you take the plunge into horse ownership or leasing, it’s important to know if it’ll be a good match. The most helpful tool is a trainer you can trust, but here are a few other things to consider.

Trying a Horse

When you first go to try a horse, you should ALWAYS have the owner/rider of the horse get on first. It will show you how the horse is with someone who knows them while also showing how the horse is currently being ridden. Second, if the horse is lame or crazy, you won’t even have to get on!

If you do get on, you should know if the horse is manageable for you after doing some flatwork and jumping a few fences. If you’re not liking what you’re feeling, don’t waste anyone’s time. Simply explain that the horse is not what you’re looking for, thank the seller for their time, and go on your merry way.

If you end up enjoying your time with the horse, ask if a trial period is available before you make a purchase! A minimum of two weeks is best.

On Trial

So you’ve taken the horse home…now what? Play around! Groom him, do some ground work, and spend time with him outside of the saddle! Liking your horse on the ground is just as important as liking him under saddle.

Play around with your riding style and see how the horse adapts. Take lessons and find what the horse likes and dislikes. Trial periods are all about trial and error!

Make sure your trainer has time to hop on too so she has a feel for the horse and a basis to teach you. She can also get a feel for whether you and the horse are a good combination.

Decision Time

If you come to the end of the trial and you and your trainer are not feeling 100%, don’t commit. It is ultimately up to you, and you want to be sure it’s a partnership that can grow and reach your goals.

You’ve Taken the Plunge

And you’re stumped. The partnership isn’t what you’ve dreamed of. Not only are you crushed and heartbroken, but the time, money, and hope you’ve invested has resulted in what feels like a waste. It wasn’t all for nothing! You’ve learned something to better yourself as a person and a rider, and this decision also gives the horse a chance to find someone who really wants to invest time in him.

The Next Step

If you’ve leased, most contracts will have a period of time required to give the owner notice that you would like to end the lease.

Depending on the terms of your lease, as long as you still feel safe/like you won’t negatively affect this horse, feel free to keep riding! If that’s not the case, don’t just dump the poor guy. Still take time to groom and manage him before he gets to return home. Just because the partnership didn’t work doesn’t mean it’s fair to completely throw him to the wayside.

If you purchased, chat with your trainer about how to go about re-selling. Every situation is different, but in this circumstance your trainer will likely be your best help.

Deciding a horse won’t work is a hard decision. You put your heart and soul into a teammate and sometimes it feels like you’ve been stomped on. It’s not the end! There are so many horses out there that can suit your needs. It’s tough, and not for the faint of heart, but in the tough times your barn mates, riding pals, and trainer are your safety net.