What Goes Into the Price of a Riding Lesson?

Swedish researchers investigated what factors determine a high or low lesson price. Here at Horse Nation, we take a less official approach.

When it comes to riding lessons, what you pay isn’t always what you get. One summer I had a few $20 lessons with an instructor I really clicked with. I learned more in that summer than in 10 years of $40-$50 weekly lessons. (That was painful.) I’ve also seen lessons from relatively little-known trainers go for the same price as a lesson from internationally-recognized riders. So when prices vary–sometimes without correlation to the quality of instruction–what are you actually paying for?

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“I think you should fire the instructor and feed me cookies all day.” Flickr: Perry/ CC

Swedish researchers Sebastian Hess, Yves Surry, Robert Kron, Carolina Liljenstolpe, Gunnar Lindberg, and Hans Andersson decided to find out using a hedonic price study, which measures how the price people are willing to pay changes when the characteristics of a certain good or service change.

Much of what they found was common sense. Higher lesson prices correlated with high income areas, areas closer to cities, and well-established lesson facilities (as opposed to up-and-coming trainers attracting a client base with lower lesson costs). Interestingly, instructors with formal riding education or certifications were only able to charge a premium when most of their students were children or teenagers.

So listen up, instructor wannabes–get certified, start business near a city, and teach kids if you want to be able to charge more than the going rate.

A caveat, though–the majority of the barns surveyed had multiple amenities, such as lockers, showers, changing rooms and caf├ęs (WHAT?! Point me to that barn, please). That suggests to me that the survey may have already been in a pretty ritzy area. However, many barns in the survey also incorporated “non-monetary contributions of their customers into their pricing schemes,” which I’m assuming means allowing less-affluent customers to work off lessons or practice rides.

As a little experiment of our own, Horse Nation invites you to Google Map what the going rate of a lesson is in your area! Just click here to view the map full screen, then click Add Marker. Then click your approximate area, and write the going rate of a lesson in the marker title!

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