How to be a Horseless Rider


Tips on how to be around horses without owning a horse“No, we can’t afford a horse”… Those words are hard to hear as a child, and grownups even find that particular financial reality difficult to cope with. Since horses are a luxury, many horselovers are relegated to watching a horse graze in a nearby field, staring at a horse trailer out on the road hoping to catch a glimpse of its occupant or imagining a stable of Breyer horses as living, breathing steeds. But even if you are horseless, there are loads of ways you can incorporate them into your life. Here are seven options:

1. Help out at a local riding stable. Instructors, stable managers and trainers are always looking for assistance. They’ll let you groom, turn horses out, clean stalls, and if you are competent enough, they might let you ride. They may also exchange work for riding lessons.

2. Volunteer. Options such as therapeutic riding centers and horse rescues run on volunteer power. Jobs can entail helping disabled riders mount and dismount, supporting the riders or leading the horses. Welfare organizations need workers to clean stalls and groom horses.

3. Sign up for riding lessons. You don’t always need a horse to learn to ride; you can take lessons on a school horse. That lesson horse will be yours for an entire hour, and instructors usually encourage riders to care for the horse before and after the lesson. That’s at least two hours of pretend horse ownership!

4. Become a free horse sitter. Many owners look for people to take care of their horses while they are on vacation or during busy work periods. Post a note in your local feed store outlining your abilities and times available.

5. Get the knowledge. Make the most of your horseless status by studying. Read books, magazines and websites to learn more about health care, riding skills and horse management. You never know; there may be a horse in your life someday in the future.

6. Take a horsey holiday. Offering a wide selection of choices, riding vacations are more popular than ever with outfitters such as Cross Country International, Equitour and Hidden Trails. You can gallop on a beach in Spain, explore Native American lands on horseback in Arizona, or take riding lessons in the beautiful Yorkshire Dales of England.

7. Dust off those Breyer horses and exhibit them at a model horse show. These shows are gaining popularity with horselovers and there are many ways to show off your models. These plastic horses pose at everything real horses do in the show-ring and more. One exhibitor dropped her Breyer horse and broke its leg. So she created a surgical unit scene complete with vet dolls working to repair the horse’s leg. Visit /redirect.php? for more information on model horses.

Sharon Biggs is an American journalist currently based in England.


  1. Thanks for the good advice. From my own experience as a horse-less horse fan, it’s amazing how many people let you help care for and ride their horses because they don’t have time! However, you should get the proper education first before offering to horse-sit. Make sure you know how to care for a horse, and especially, get the basic riding skills before riding someone else’s horse!!!

  2. I like this article too. My parents will not let me take riding lessons, and cost is one of the many reasons. As you will see in my comment on “30 Ways to Save…” I help out at a barn, and they sometimes will let me ride horses there in order to exercise them. If you live semi-close to a barn, a good idea for free riding is to do barn chores like mucking stalls for a couple weeks, and after a while the supervisors will let you ride. But be sure to prove you are responsible and can handle taking care of the horses at the barn.

  3. i found this article very informative. i don’t own a horse of my own, so i will be sure to use some of these great tips!

  4. Thank you so much for this article! I have always loved horses, but don’t own one! I now take riding lessons, thanks to my parents, but these ideas will help me to be able to be with horses more than once a week!

  5. i think this is great becuase most horselovers cant afford horses or riding lessons so this offers ideas on how to do it for less to nothing 🙂

  6. Thank you for the hope!! I have thought of these options but have never had the “courage” to go out and seriously try to find my ideal situation. I am horseless and live on equine shows, magazines, books, websites, you name it – but nothing takes the place of a living, breathing horse.

  7. Thanks for the article! I am also a horseless person, but I am crazy about them! 🙂 I took lessons for 1 summer, but now they are even more expensive, so I had to stop that too. I now volunteer for therapeautic riding in the summer and warm up or cool down the horses- I love it! I hope to own one someday. Thanks for the tips!

  8. Well i am a horseless rider.It’s a bit easier than alot of people think.If you have a friend that has a horse than ask if you can practice on him/her.If your friend doesn’t have a horse ask your barn ower or manger if you can practice on one of the barn horses.It may be a differnt ride but at least you get some practice.

  9. WOW! Thank you for this article..I’m totally awe-struck that you finally mentioned us! I am a horseless horselover/rider…and I volunteered at a theraputic Riding program all summer,which is definately a good idea for those of you wanting more horse experience…great opportunity to help the disabled as well! For me,riding lessons are too expensive,but there are people who I know who own horses,and so I go riding with them,and trust me,it’s just as good as the lessons! And yep,book reading,internet searching,etc. really is as good as it gets in knowledge about horses…of course next to hands on experience;) So THANK YOU for this article:)I enjoyed it!

  10. I have been a horseless rider for a long time and I very exciting actually. I was always trying new horses who needed to be ridden or who were just bought so I gained a lot of experience that helps me greatly now.
    And, if you can’t afford a horse or a lesson a good thing to do is groom for a coach in exchange for lessons or do stable work in exchange. Some big stables will even give you free lessons on horses that they don’t have time to exercise for just a bit of your time with cleaning and such. these are some things I did, hope that helps!

  11. I’m a horseless rider! And a horseless horselover! I appreciate this article. I take riding lessons and tend to help out when I can at the stable. More than anything in the world, I want a horse of my own. But with my job, I can’t really afford it right now because I’m 16, work part time and have a lot of school.But on the plus side I ride every weekend and I know in my heart that one day soon that I’m going to have a horse of my very own. Maybe before owning, it’s a good idea to lease!!! =D And then move your way up to your very own horse!!!

  12. As a suplement to the showing your breyer horses. I have discovered photo shows, its the same idea, but you set up a scene and take a picture, then you just enter them online with whatever group you are part of (usually free) and compete with others from all over! very fun, cheap and you dont eve need ot go anywhere!

  13. I like the tips that you gave here. I have been a horseless horselover my whole life. Another thing that I do is go to friends of my family’s that have horses and ride them with their permission.

  14. Great tips these are good ways to get yourself prepared for the day that perhaps you may be able to have your own horse as well.

  15. I agree fully provided in this article. I was once that horseless rider and 3 years later have my very own horse. But I have ridden many schooling horses with distinct personalities which let you know all horses are differ.

  16. I have loved horses from the time I could day horse. But yet my I can not afford one but all my friends and families say keep at it and you will succeed, and I have kept to it and I am actually half way there!

  17. I love horses! I wish i could have one… another thing you could do is to go to back to college…take a equine science program and/or be on their equestrian team

  18. I love horses. Im 13 so I still get the We cant afford a horse speach. I have loved horses since my first run-in with them. Im hooked. My motto: If horses is a drug, Im both High abd addicted. I ride once a week, and once I become intermediate my mom said I can lease a horse!!!!!!!!! Im so excited!! That should be added to the list as something you can do. I volunteer at a therepudic riding barn, and that is where I have my best friends!! I LOVE HORSES!! I also love my riding barn!! I just grab a horse sometimes and just sit in an empty field and let him graze. Its the best :)**NEVER STOP DREAMING**. let me tell you, parents did NOT like horses at ALL!! They wouldent let me voulnteer ao anything envolving horses. Then They let me volunteer, but they said I could NEVER have lessons. Now I ride all the time. They said they would NEVER let me lease a horse. Im looking for a lease. They said I could never own a horse and well… that story is still being told. NEVER give up on ur dreams!!!!!!!

  19. I am 33 I have wanted a horse my whole life. Am now studing to be a vet tech. This article gives me things to try until the day that hopefully I can become a horse owner. And will give me more knowledge until that wonderful day comes.

  20. Up to this year I was the person this article was aimed at. Good article except one thing, #6. If I don’t have enough money to afford a horse, how on earth could I afford a riding vacation in exotic lands? 😉

  21. Thanks! I’m still getting the “Sweetie-we-cant-afford-a-horse-for-you-sorry” speech but these help. I take riding lessons except I’m actually looking for a new barn, and I might be able to lease a horse. I hope….

  22. Good article. I am into the horse-sitting business on the side, just absolutely make sure you know what you’re doing if you start that. With liabilities the way they are these days, you don’t want to get caught not knowing how to lunge someone’s horse or not recognizing a colic case or so on. I have been horseless all my life, and sitting is a great way to have horses of “my own” – sort of. 🙂

  23. Wonderful idea…I have 3 horses and work 30 hrs. a week. I’d love to have a horsecrazy teen gal hang out with me at my barn. I would enjoy teaching all I know about horsekeeping and riding.

  24. I go to college in a semi-horsey area. There are a lot of barns in the area with horses belonging to people from the metropolis nearby. I ride for a grad student who doesn’t have time to keep her young horse in shape. It works out great, I get to ride for free and she gets free miles on her horse.

  25. Take lots of lessons and become a better rider! Your instructor will partner you up with appropriate horses that need a sponsor. Sponsoring is a great way to “own” a horse without all of the responsibilities. I’m in my 50’s and very much enjoy the “part time” ownership that sponsoring provides. I am very dependable, so busy horse owners like the arrangement too. Work out your own financial arrangement – shoes, supplements, barn cleaning, etc.


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