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?


“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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