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Reasonable Pricing for Horseback Riding Lessons?

So I'm thinking about doing some horseback riding lessons this off-season. I've only been on a horse a few times in my life, and it was for things like guided walking tours etc. Most notably I did one through the Garden of the Gods last summer in Colorado Springs for a few hours and it was amazing. I'd like to learn more and get past the walking stage though!

Around me on the southcoast of MA, there are many places to do horseback riding lessons as I just found out when searching during my lunch break! I was curious if anyone has kind of a going hourly rate that is reasonable that they follow for an adult lesson? I've found $60/hr and another for $45/hr, I'm not sure why there is such a gap in the same area, so I was wondering if there is a norm people go by? Also any other tips on what to look for when choosing a barn, what questions should I be asking?



Ski Diva Extraordinaire
It's going to vary wildly depending on region and also if the barn is primarily a lesson barn or a show barn. You'd think that since I've been at this horse gig since I was 7 that I'd have more advice, but I have to admit that shamefully, I don't! After awhile, I can just read horse people and observe and know if they're someone I'd want "lessons" from. Plus, the criteria for beginner lessons are far different than for advanced riders.My horse is actually in full-time training (well, he will be again starting April 1st) and I am incredibly picky about who I will have him with. Last year, I was so unhappy with the trainers out here that I brought him close to home and did my own training on him and had a blast!

One thing I will tell you to watch for are healthy looking horses (no ribs showing, shiny coats, bright eyes, same stuff you'd look for in a dog, really) and students wearing helmets, riding boots, etc. Also, equipment that isn't tattered or falling apart. The facility should be in good repair, too.

I will use my network of Arabian owners to see what might be available near you. This is my purebred Arabian gelding being led by my 5YO daughter a couple weeks ago. :D
I love the picture from behind! The dicotomy of your little daughter holding his lead and the big powerful horse on the side of her is great! Would love to see him from the front as well though!

Thanks for looking into your network for me I appreciate it! My zip code is 02720 if this helps in your search.


Ski Diva Extraordinaire
:love: OK, you asked for it! Yes, I am slightly proud. Not many riders in this breed in this day and age can show a horse to a regional title on their own--we were champion in one region, and reserve champ at another. I put him in training shortly after to prepare for nationals. I needed that extra help a trainer could offer.

He's quite a horse. We were third in the country in our division last year at nationals. Here's the link to a thread I started last year about that: http://www.theskidiva.com/forums/index.php?threads/u-s-nationals-and-we-were-third-d.13017/

Our win shot from Nationals:

Region 1 Champions

Santa Barbara Fall Show Champs:


Ski Diva Extraordinaire
I love the picture from behind! The dicotomy of your little daughter holding his lead and the big powerful horse on the side of her is great! Would love to see him from the front as well though!

Thanks for looking into your network for me I appreciate it! My zip code is 02720 if this helps in your search.

And yes, the size difference threw me for a loop when I first looked at the picture. Arabians get a bad rap for being "crazy." They take longer than other breeds to "grow up" but when they do, you will not find a horse more in tune with it's owner/rider and with more love and personality. They are highly intelligent which means they need a smart person handling them, and it's of course easier to teach them the wrong things without thinking about it. But there is something missing in the dispositions of other breeds, and in their trustworthiness around small people like my daughter. It's like they don't even see her (which is scary) whereas my horse has been completely amazed by her since I bought him three years ago. He's always aware of where she is, and if she's in front of him, he puts his head down to her and gives her love!

OK, so here's what I dug up from an Arabian breeder in New England:
This is a farm up there that gives lessons and used to show at the national level. Looks like an active youth program (this is a good thing.) Doesn't look like they've shown at nationals as much since 2008, which is not unusual as the industry took a huge hit with the economy. http://www.doubleaarabians.com/index.html

Here is a New England club you can contact. I cannot vouch for any of the programs they might hook you up with. One thing about the horse world is there are a lot of yahoos out there. My best advice is listen to your gut! Trowbridge's is in CT and she is a highly skilled trainer who is very active in our breed. She's been doing a lot more community outreach lately, but not sure how close she is to you.


Wow he's a beaut. I was horsey in my teens but didn't stick with it. I had a pretty good gig. My pal was a tall America Shetland who jumped. I boarded him at a place where the family was into rodeo. So I went with them, watched the kids when they went out at night, and warmed up the horses for them. They taught me barrel racing.


Ski Diva Extraordinaire
It stuck with me, that's for sure! I've had the bug badly since I was little, and it turned out I was good at riding and not much else, quite good at it, actually! Must have been my own Shetland/Welsh mix I had who was a nasty little turd who taught me SO much! Everybody needs to ride a mean pony once in their lives, I think ;)

Barrel racing is FUN!


Ski Diva Extraordinaire
Wow contesstant... your boy is just beautiful and you look sensational on him :clap::clap::clap:
Thank you so much :redface: He's the sweetest, nicest horse.

On a sidenote, my username here is after one of my horses, not misspelled! (Well, at least not misspelled in the horse world!) I actually bred him and named him Magic Contesstant. My mare's name was Contess Nataussah. Anyway, sold him as a baby and haven't seen him since :(

Anyway, major hijack--Missy, let me know if you have any luck! This is definitely a view you could probably get used to! (Took my crazy Arab on trail rides after a pretty strenuous show season last year. He loved it!)



Ski Diva Extraordinaire
Hi Missy,

I'm out in Western MA and I pay $240 for five private lessons, around 40-45 minutes per. That was when I was riding the lesson horses. I have my own horse now (watch out...it is addictive...) and I pay the same amount. It's a small barn, and my barn owner = my trainer = the person who sold Huey to me when he wasn't happy in the lesson program. She teaches several styles of riding, but her real passion is in training the horses. A couple of times I've used a regular riding lesson ticket to either get some basic groundwork training for my boy (a pushy, spirited, 18yo retired GP show jumper, who DEFINITELY benefited from the groundwork) and a couple of times to get training for ME to train HIM with some groundwork. My teacher is happy, my horse is happy, I'm happy, it's all good.



Ski Diva Extraordinaire
Up here in NH the rates start at around $4o for English-style, dressage I guess, but those are at no-frills barns. I wouldn't assume the no-frills approach would mean inferior teaching, though.

Owning an Appaloosa is my dream, has been since I was a kid. Alabama, where I grew up, was western riding territory. Up here a western saddle is hard to find. Husband is moving us to Maine this summer, and the fulfillment of my childhood dream was one of his enticements. I'm going to hold him to that, and I'll be famous for miles as that crazy woman with a western saddle. I'll wear my hat, spit my tobacco, and scale the rock hills!


Ski Diva Extraordinaire
Yes, you will find a range of lesson prices in all regions, and sadly MA is somewhat known for being on the higher end. I grew up riding in the Holliston/ Norfolk area. My parents paid $500 for a set of 10 group lessons at a lesson and show barn. When I was in college I rode at a more lower key barn (actually it was known for therapeutic riding) and paid $350 for a set of 8 lessons. A great place to look up barns is www.equinesite.com
You will find that the big separators between prices are these:
-If they have an Indoor ring (same for heated amenities such as tack rooms or viewing areas)
-Reputation of the trainer (trainers with more experience and proven success of their own/clients, will charge more)
-Quality of school horses (this can vary, but barns that use "show quality" horses for lessons are likely to charge more)

As a rider just starting out, I would think about what you want out of riding. Mostly trail riding? Training for showing eventually? Do you mind riding with kids or do you want adult only lessons? How far are you willing to travel?
A few questions I would ask:
-What are the lesson policies (do you pay as you go or buy a session, what is the cancelation policy/make up policy, bonus points for a barn that has a printed sheet with this info)
-Do the riders tack up and cool out the horses or do you arrive and get on (if it is the former, don't worry, your first few times they should (read: if they don't, you probably don't want to be there) have someone who will show you how)
-What happens in inclement weather (important if you choose a barn without an indoor ring)
-Is the instructor licensed? How many years have they been teaching?
-Ask to see which horses are used with adult beginners (some barns cater to young riders and have only ponies or horses that are not suitable to adult beginners).
-What is the helmet policy (are they required, do they lend them to beginners)

If you have time I would watch a lesson:
-Do the Horses look happy? (riders should not be needing to constantly kick/use a crop (short whip) or yank on the horse's mouth to make them stop, horses especially for a novice rider should not buck or rear)
- Do the riders look happy? (should not seem nervous or bored)
-How does the instructor interact with the students? (does he/she yell or ridicule? Is he/she focused on the lesson (not on cell phone or talking to others outside the lesson), does she pay equal attention to all the students? Also pay attention to teaching style, does he/she prefer to pick on thing to focus on or continually hand out small pointers? Where does she stand (side of the ring, center, follows the student)
-The ring should be fairly flat and without large rocks, if it is dirt or sand it should not be too dusty, it should have a gate capable of being closed and secured, check to make sure there isn't a deep "Track" along the outer edge of the ring.

Good luck!

A few notes about purchases for riding:
-Make sure you have comfortable boots for riding, they should have a small heel (no sneakers) and should fit close to your foot (no big rubber goulashes)
-Many first start out in jeans but you may want to purchase some schooling tights which are stretchy, don't have hard seams (jeans can chafe) and are breathable for summer riding
-Once you have decided to stick with riding, you should purchase your own helmet (personally, I'm a little neurotic about head lice and a helmet is only ~$50, I'd get one sooner rather than later)


Ski Diva Extraordinaire
MissySki, so pleased to hear you loved your first riding experiences and want to do more, I started riding when I was 11 and have done it on and off ever since including sharing two horses with friends - and just like skiing once the bug has bitten it never really goes away! I can't really offer any advice on prices that would be useful to you, but I definitely +1 the advice on making sure you pick a stable that seems reputable (healthy horses, happy riders, safe & tidy environment) and can offer what you want to achieve from your lessons so you don't end up wasting your time or money. Over here we have the British Horse Society and the Association of British Riding Schools, who each run an approval scheme of establishments that meet their standards of welfare and teaching quality and publish the list on their website - do you have something similar over there on either a state or national basis that might be a good place to start? :goodluck:

Contesstant, your horse is absolutely stunning, and huge congratulations on your successes, you must be super proud! :clap:


Ski Diva Extraordinaire
Ah! A horsey thread--love it! Only on a Ski Diva web site. :smile:

I grew up riding horses too, but never had my own. I took some lessons, but we didn't have much $$, so it was somewhat limited. Even so, I learned a lot. I often rode our neighbor's part Arabian/Walker, and I know what you mean about being in tune with the rider--he was spirited, but right there with you. I still miss him.

Contesstant--great pictures, thanks for sharing. Congratulations--it's wonderful to be able to do what you love--and to do it so well!


Ski Diva Extraordinaire
I believe I saw you win this one, at Del Mar, right? I just knew, after watching the Western Pleasure class before yours, that Chachee had this sewn up. He turned it on BIG TIME and had this great confident air, "I'm SO taking this." And he's SOOOO sweet and friendly.

I know what you mean about Welsh ponies - my cousin had a Welsh who was a great jumper, but he could get a wild hair up. He threw/dragged me once, but got a stern talking-to from my cousin and was very nice to me after that.


Ski Diva Extraordinaire
Yes, Mary, you were there! After being 1st, 2nd, and 5th on the cards in my first class (the 5th was an insult) I went into this class with a chip on my shoulder and came out with a 1st, 1st, and 2nd. The judge who had me 5th in the first class had me 1st in this one. :becky: I honestly don't know what we did differently to make him decide to place me that much higher...maybe it was just that I rode a lot more aggressively and he took notice. Regardless, yes, you were there! I hope you can make it again this year! We will be showing there again! Just talked to my trainer today. He says he will be taking well over 20 horses to that show. :eek: I hope there will be more horses there this year. That equine virus that was spreading last year (and is still out there) kept a lot of people and their horses away.


Ski Diva Extraordinaire
And thanks for all the compliments to all of you. I have had quite a journey in my horse life, and this success was very hard-fought for since I was a very young girl. It's not easy being the non-wealthy kid in a very wealthy man's sport! I was only able to afford to buy my current horse because I unfortunately lost another horse at a very young age, who himself was going to be a superstar. My mom bred him and I had just started showing him when he died at age 5. I laid in bed and cried for 3 days. I thankfully had him insured for a good amount of money and with that money was able to buy Chachee, my current horse. I've been through several injury issues with him and almost retired him last year at the age of 9!

Funny how things happen in life. Sometimes you just have to remind yourself to sit down and hang on, because it's going to be a bumpy ride! Horses teach you so much about life. They are a great activity to involve kids in.


Ski Diva Extraordinaire
God willin' and the creek don't rise, I'll be there! LOVE watching horse shows. And if I can get to see the Native Dress class I'll be in seventh heaven.

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