Horse share: Everything you need to know
Horse sharing can be beneficial and rewarding for both the original owner and shared carer. Not only can it give an inexperienced horse the lover the chance to take responsibility, but it can help an owner give their horse the care they cannot provide themselves. This article takes a look at what sharing a horse means and what it can offer on both sides of an agreement.
Limiting Factors to Think About
The demand for horse sharing is ever increasing due to the expensive costs of ownership and the large time demands of caring for a horse. A sharer will still be expected to devote a certain level of both of these commitments, but in far smaller proportions and without the hefty responsibility. It’s hard to find many negatives of obtaining a shared horse but this doesn’t mean a deal like this should be jumped into; there are many factors to think about first.
As there aren’t as many available options for sharing a horse as buying one, there will be a variety of limiting factors. There might not be a wide range of sizes on offer, so it’s important to decide whether the sizes on offer are practical. There’s no point taking on a job too big for the sake of it. Location is another factor that will be reduced in comparison to normal. If an owner is over an hour or so drive from you, are going to be able to commit to travelling this distance every time need to? You don’t want to be unreliable for the owner, nor do you want provide yourself with unwanted stress. Financing will always be a problem too. Although the costs are massively reduced by using a scheme like this, looking after a horse is always expensive. It is likely that an owner will want you to make some contribution to costs so you need to be sure that it’s something you can afford.
What commitments do you expect from the horse? If you’re looking for a competition horse, make sure the owner is aware of this and make sure you pick a suitable option.
Make the Owner Trust You
The key to getting any sharing partnership to work is to find ways that make the owner feel really comfortable to leave their horse in your hands. Experience, enthusiasm and a trial period are important things to think about here. An owner is far more likely to accept an offer if you show good background in the equine industry or look promising in terms of progression. They won’t just accept anyone without any history or knowledge, as this could put their horse in danger. Enthusiasm is also really important to show that you are really keen to help and care for the horse. If you appear to lack drive or eagerness to learn, they are unlikely to think you suitable for a position.
Setting up a trial period can work in your favour here as if you can prove your worth and capabilities in a short period, you can secure a long term relationship with pre-built trust.
How Does a Horse Share Scheme Work?
A 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 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 formed a strong relationship 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 sharing agreement.
This type of scheme can be as complex or flexible as the owner sees fit. In some cases, it 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 loan.
The Benefits of Horse Sharing
Horse sharing brings a wealth of benefits to both owner and loaner, whether you’re a beginner or an experienced owner; there are perks to be taken away by everyone.
The foremost benefit of a scheme like this is that it allows the horse to get 24/7 care and affection from whomever is looking after them. If you’re an owner who is struggling to give them the attention they need, opening up to a sharing scheme can increase the wellbeing of your horse, who will never be short of attention. Conversely, a beginner who is looking to be on the receiving end can earn valuable skills and will be eager and enthusiastic when caring for the horse - increasing the attention they get. It’s always wise to keep the horses welfare as priority.
For for the owner, a lot of the benefits come with cost and time in mind. As everyone knows, owning a horse is expensive and time consuming. Putting them up for a sharing scheme allows you to still have control over the way things are done, how they are looked after and when you spend time with them, but with less pressure to meet their caring demands and a little reduction on costs. It’s very personalised, so you can basically decide to share the horse whenever you like. It keeps your horse very happy too as they get to spend time with the owner whilst receiving the best care possible.
The benefits for someone on the other end of the deal are more obvious. They get the opportunity to experience what owning a horse is like, getting the chance to groom, ride and care for a horse on a part time basis. You probably won’t have the stress of bills or medical problems that the owner deals with, though you might be expected to have some contributions to daily requirements.
If you’re thinking of taking part in a share scheme as a less experienced owner, you’ll need to take a look at our Horse Health Ultimate Guide for everything you should know about how to provide the best care for a horse.
You could also look at Horses for Loan as an alternative option.