Why Are Lessons So Expensive?May 6 2016
By The Honest Trainer
I’m sure you have realized this as a parent already, but kid’s hobbies can cost a fortune. Sporting equipment alone costs an arm and a leg and then you have to pay team memberships on top of it. Horseback riding is no different and can actually be the most expensive monthly bill you pay with private lessons in some areas of the country averaging at around $65 per half hour. So what’s the deal with the high prices at lesson barns? Here are 5 reasons why:
- Reason #1: Stardust the lesson pony is a living, breathing animal.
Horses (and ponies) need to be fed, housed, cleaned and often medically treated regularly to maintain positive personalities and be sound enough to be ridden. Horses eat multiple times a day and feed can get pricey. Horses and their housing needs to be cleaned daily, which means multiple barn staff need to be hired. Lastly, we can’t simply bring Stardust to the vet in the back seat, so the vet comes to us… cha-ching!
- Reason #2: Horses, like humans, can only work for so many hours a day.
Good lesson programs will not overwork their horses and therefore they need to have enough horses to satisfy the lesson volume. If horses are used over and over again every day they will become mentally cranky, which can lead to bad behavior that is dangerous for the rider. They also can become unsound with too much pounding and then either need veterinary care or time off, which can be costly. The more lessons the barn does, the more horses they need, which costs more money (see reason #1).
- Reason #3: Farms do not close when the lessons are over.
Lessons may only run from 3:30 to 8, but the rest of the hours of the day the horses still need care and the farm still needs maintenance. Do you get cranky when you have to mow your ¾ acre plot? Well try mowing 20 acres. Horses need to be turned out, brought in, cleaned, blanketed, fed, watered, etc. One person can not possibly maintain an entire farm and therefore multiple staff members need to be hired.
- Reason #4: Horseback riding instructors are educated, certified, and insured employees.
And if yours isn’t find a new one. Education and certification cost time and money and insurance costs a lot of money. Your instructor should be certified to teach either nationally or at the state level and should have proper education. For example, I have a Bachelor's degree in Animal Science, specializing in Equine Industry and I am certified by the US Eventing Association nationally. I also carry liability insurance and insurance on my horses. I take this seriously and so should your instructor. Because of all this education and training, instructors are worth more than minimum wage and therefore you are going to pay a little more for your lesson.
- Reason #5: Equipment and arenas are expensive to purchase and maintain.
Do you jump in your lesson? Those cost money. Do you use a saddle? That costs money. How about a bride? Saddle pad? Lunge line? Horse shoes? An indoor ring? Can you even imagine???
To sum up, horseback riding is expensive because of what it takes to have a safe and successful lesson program. Not all lessons reflect what they cost, so take these reasons into consideration, but also use your better judgement.