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Horse share: Everything you need to know

ArticleHow to - General Equine AdviceFriday 07 September 2012
By Katherine Lord
Whether you’re an owner placed in the tricky position of not having enough spare time to dedicate to your horse or an equestrian enthusiast without the resources to provide full care for a horse, a horse share scheme could be the perfect compromise.
Entering into a horse share agreement can often be the perfect compromise for both parties and will be particularly beneficial to the horse itself, as after all, the animal’s welfare should always be the top priority as you assess all of your options. Learn more about horse share schemes in the guide below. Alternatively, you can read our guide to horses for loan to learn about an additional compromise option. 
More and more people these days are looking for horse shares, whether it is for financial reasons, time, or both. Finding a horse to share is almost as tricky as finding a horse to buy, although there is much less choice.
Certain questions need to be considered: What is the right size horse for you? Location? What days can you do? How much of a financial commitment can you afford?
Do you want the opportunity to compete or just to have fun? Looking at websites such as Horsemart and checking out the notice board in your local tack shop are ideal and easy ways to find a horse to suit you in your area.
Sharing is a great way to move on from a riding school, or just to have the experience of having a horse without the full commitment. A trial period is key, for both you and the owner to trust each other and make sure it is going to work.
Picking a sharer is as important for the owner, if not more so, than it is for you picking a horse. They need to be able to know that they can leave their horse in your care and not worry. Going down to the yard with the owner for a few weeks is an ideal way to get to know them, the horse, and what they expect.
One question I frequently get asked is “why do you give a financial contribution as surely you are doing the owner a favour by looking after and riding their horse a few days a week?”
This is an interesting debate and is personal choice. Some see stable chores as enough, especially if you are experienced enough to school their horse well too.
Others need a financial contribution to keep their horse. We all know that horses are expensive to keep, so it does not seem unreasonable that a sharer should help with the cost as part of the privilege of having a certain amount of freedom with that horse, especially if the owner is giving up some of their riding. I have experienced both views while sharing.
The way I justified any contribution was that I got to ride more days for the cost or less than that of a lesson, and if I was the only one riding the horse then it seemed only fair that I paid for the shoes, for example. All of this depends on situation and personal preference, but it is rare that sharers don’t have to pay something towards the upkeep of the horse.
Although horse sharing can be fantastic, it can also be tricky. You have to be prepared to do things the owners’ way. If they allow you quite a bit of freedom, that’s great, but it is, after all, their horse and they will probably feel quite protective! If you don’t like to be told how to care for a horse, then perhaps sharing isn’t for you.
Most owners will be happy to let you get on with things on the days that you share, but a certain amount of respect for their opinions and way of doing things is necessary. It can be extremely rewarding when you and an owner can help each other, and enjoy loving and caring for the same horse. Sharing a horse can lead to great partnerships and friendships between both people and horses.

Here is some more info on a horse share scheme...

Horse share schemes and how they work
A horse share scheme is exactly as it sounds – an agreement whereby the owner of a horse will look to spread the numerous costs and work involved with owning a horse by sharing out duties with a fellow rider keen to establish a rapport with an individual horse.
Ideally, this type of agreement would suit an owner who has built up a strong relationship with a horse but due to unforeseen circumstances no longer has the time, finances or resources to offer round-the-clock welfare to their equine companion. Much of the responsibility in terms of mucking out, feeding and exercising would be transferred to the individual entering into the horse share agreement.
However, a share horse scheme can be as complex or flexible as the owner sees fit. In some cases, a share agreement may be put in place simply to allow an inexperienced rider a little more exposure to the hobby whilst at the same time providing a realistic insight into the responsibilities involved in actually taking on a horse full time.
In most cases, the sharer will have to agree to some form of financial commitment, often a small proportion of the cost of feed or livery yard costs. Medical and veterinary bills can often be a grey area in any form of agreement – although ultimate responsibility for these costs will often fall to the  owner, this is not always the case, so it’s essential to set some detailed instructions down before entering into a deal.
Finally, never into a share agreement with any individual, however nice they may seem, unless you have complete confidence that they have the credentials needed to provide adequate welfare for your horse. The same applies if you're thinking of offering a horse for loan.

Benefits for the horse owner
Whether you’re interested in a horse loan or a horse share option, you needn’t sever all your ties with your beloved equine companion. Here are some benefits that you will come across if you decide to put your horse up for a horse share scheme...
You have the freedom to set the terms. Naturally, you should try and make the agreement as fair as possible for the sharer, but you’ll have the flexibility to set the amount of access and riding time the sharer has to you horse. 
Therefore, you can fit the sharer’s access to the horse around your weekly schedule – for instance, the sharer can have unlimited access during the week whilst you can take responsibility for weekends and vice versa.
It’ll ease the financial burden. In some cases, you may be keen to enter into a share horse deal due to time constraints rather than financial concerns, but you can share the costs of weekly maintenance with the sharer. For example, you might provide for all stabling and veterinary costs, the sharer might assume responsibility for feed costs as part of the terms of the agreement.
It’s the best option all round for your horse. Remember, it’s the horse’s welfare that should always be at the forefront of your thinking when entering into a horse share agreement. If your horse is benefiting from extra riding and grooming, it’ll be healthier and happier all round.
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