Alternatives to horse ownership

There are a number of alternatives to owning your own horse obviously you can continue to have riding lessons, go on hacks etc through your local riding school but if you want a taste of horse ownership without the full commitment the following may be of interest:

Own a Pony Day / Week
Lots of riding schools have special days (or weeks) during the school holidays where children can experience most of the activities that are required if they had their own horse. These days are ideal for any youngster who wants to be around horses. Prices vary but they start in the region of £50 per day.

Voluntary Work at a Riding School
If you or your child have been having regular riding lessons at an equestrian centre speak to the owner about volunteering for a few hours a week, you'll get lots of hands on experience of horse care and in some cases you might even get a free ride as a thank you.

Voluntary Work at a Horse Welfare Centre
Most Equine Welfare Centres are crying out for volunteers to help with day to day stable management chores as well as fund raising activities. Getting involved with the right organisation can be tremendously rewarding.

Riding other Peoples Horses
From time to time you will see advertisements in tack shops etc for riders / help wanted this can be a good opportunity to get more riding experience but caution needs to be exercised.
For your own safety you need to be 100% sure that you are an experienced enough rider for the horse you are being asked to ride.
It's a good idea to arrange your own rider insurance.
Be careful not to get exploited, unfortunately there are some people out there who are just looking for free labour.

Horse Share
Often owners who don't have enough time or would like to reduce the cost of keeping a horse offer a horse share, sometimes they ask for a financial contribution to the up-keep of the horse, sometimes all they want is help with horse care and exercise.
This is a great way of finding out, on a part time basis, if you have the committment to horse ownership, the horse remains the ultimate responsibility of the owner but you get to experience what horse ownership is like.
As always you need to exercise caution, make sure you are capable of handling and riding the horse, that you are happy with the way it is kept and arrange your own rider / public liabilty insurance. Of course it also helps if you like the horse's owner!

Horse Loan
Owners who are not willing to sell their horses but are unable to continue caring for them will sometimes offer the horse for loan. Basically this means that you borrow the horse and are responsible for it's care and exercise including the financial costs but the horse on loan always remains the property of the owner. The owner is not involved with the horse's day-to-day care but will usually want visit to their horse from time-to-time and they will be able to ask you to return the horse to them if they choose to.
Different types of loan are offered:
Some stipulate that the horse must remain at it's current yard while others will allow you to take the horse to your own poperty or choice of livery.
As well as ridden horses some horses are offered on loan as companions only due to age or health, others are offered for light riding only due to soundness issues.
Some horses are offered on loan for a short period whilst others are offered on permanent loan where the arrangement is intended to last for the life of the horse but in the event that you change your mind the horse must always be returned to the owner.
Some horses are offered on loan with a view to buy this  means that the horse is for sale but the buyer has the option of loaning the horse for a set period of time before purchase. After the loan period, the loaner should purchase the horse or return to its owners if it is found to be unsuitable. If you don't intend to buy don't enter into this type of agreement.
Looking for a loan horse is very much like looking for a horse to buy you need to make sure you've found the right one before taking the horse on loan.
It is strongly advised that a loan agreement is drawn up with a solictor making sure that every eventuality is covered.