Owning a horse has huge responsibilities needing lots of time, care and a big purse! However every horse owner you come across, having your own horse is a very rewarding experience. Sometimes when personal circumstances change, this means that it may become difficult to give the time or the money to your beloved horse. Many seek every workable solution they can to save them from selling a horse, so loaning the horse out becomes an option.
For many people that would love to own a horse but circumstances are difficult, then loaning a horse becomes an ideal way to have experience of horse ownership. Loaning can be flexible in time and how much responsibility is taken that is decided between the owner of the horse and loaner.
WHAT IS INVOLVED?
Loaning is essentially like owning a horse. The loaner is usually responsible for all the financial costs and other responsibilities. Normally the horse is kept at the loaners choice of stables but some horses owner states that it is to be kept at the present yard.
A degree of flexibility of how involved the loaner is with the horse can be discussed with the owner. Many take on full responsibility including vets bills, costs of feed and bedding, tack, rugs and the day to day care of the horse. Some owners will agree to vets bills and replacements tack and rugs where needed. In situations like this, it is very wise to have a written loan agreement to clearly state the terms of the loan and who is responsible for what.
Some owners who think long term of the future for the horse may loan out with a view to buy. This is another great way to trial a horse without the commitment of an immediate purchase. Normally a loan period is decided between the owner and the loaner. When the agreed period has come to an end then the loaner will usually purchase the horse or return them to its owners if the horse is unsuitable. I would only use this agreement if you are looking to buy a horse.
HOW TO FIND THAT IDEAL PERSON FOR YOUR HORSE
You must first decide how you are going to find the ideal person to take on your horse. Ideally, if someone can be found through word of mouth, this would make the process much easier. Unfortunately, it is not always this easy so by placing adverts locally in feed and saddlery stores and local equestrian magazines are the first place to start. You have to be honest about your horse’s ability, nature and any long term ailments that they may have. Make sure you ask the potential loaner as many questions as you can to build up a picture about their ability too. Invite them to ride the horse and watch how they tack up, deal with the horse, and then how they ride. This should give you a clear picture of their equestrian knowledge and ability. If they are just starting out looking after a horse, offer to help them in the first few weeks and always be available to answer any questions that they may have.
In the first few weeks, perhaps turn up unannounced at the yard to ensure that your horse is being cared for properly. (I would suggest having a clause in the loan agreement that you can visit any time) By seeing that the horse is being cared for will give you peace of mind.
HOW TO FIND THE RIGHT HORSE TO LOAN
First and foremost you need to be honest about your own ability and experience with taking a horse on. Many loaners are novices as this is the ideal way to start out owning a horse and the first few months are a real learning curve. Make sure you have help on hand for advice that is needed and any owner I know would not be bothered by questions about their own horses care. Do not agree to any loan unless you are happy and confident that you can handle the horse. Make sure you try and ride the horse on more than one occasion in different surroundings to get an idea of how the horse is. Deal with the horse on the ground with grooming and tacking the horse up. Ask as many questions as you can to get a clear picture if the horse is suitable for your needs.
Be open with your questions and ask about the horse’s temperament, any injuries or long term illnesses, how it is fed etc. This will give you an idea of the costs and time involved that the horse will need from you. Hopefully, the owner has been honest and upfront with you about the horse so you can then make a decision if they are right for you.
GETTING THE LOAN AGREEMENT IN WRITING
Hopefully, with these steps taken, the horse owner and loaner can then agree the details of the arrangement to loan the horse out. Work out between you exactly what the loaners responsibilities are and what the horse owner terms are too. Always ensure that every eventuality is covered and written down in the agreement. Make sure you include any specific needs of the horse and what the loaner is allowed to use the horse for. It is vital you get a legally binding horse loan agreement. These can be found on the internet and The British Horse Society do a sample loan agreement that can be downloaded. Write everything down and ensure that each party has a copy that is signed and dated.
Once this has all been established then the loaner can start the exciting adventure of looking after and riding a horse. The owner can also be happy that their horse is being well cared for. You always get to hear the horror stories of loaning horses but these are few and far between compared to the number of horses that are looked after by loving and caring loan owners.
Written by Samantha Hobden
For more information: THE BRITISH HORSE SOCIETY
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