I was a horseback riding instructor for close to a decade. Over the years I have been asked some of the same questions over and over by my students.
One question I have been asked frequently is, “How often should I taking riding lessons?”
The average equestrian takes 1 riding lesson per week. It is commonly recommended that you take a minimum of 1 riding lesson a week. A lesson each week keeps you on track for learning and progressing in your riding skills. Although how many lessons you should take a week depends on:
- Factor 1: what you can afford
- Factor 2: what you have time for
- Factor 3: your riding goals & how fast you want to progress in your riding
- Factor 4: how much you want to ride
These are just the basics you want to consider when deciding on how often you should take riding lessons.
Now let’s go over and break down the different factors, to help you decide how many lessons a week are right for you.
Factor 1: What Can You Afford For Riding Lessons
- First, figure out what is the most you can afford to spend on riding lessons every month.
- Divide that number by the cost of a riding lesson.
- Then take that number and divide by 4 which is roughly what a month is made up of.
- This will give you how many riding lessons you can take a week at the top of your budget.
The top of my budget for riding lessons is $1200 a month. (Haha, I wish… it’s not!) The riding lessons are $45 for a half-hour and $65 for an hour. I want to do the hour lessons.
So I do 1200 divided by 65, which is 18 lessons a month.
Then I divide that by 4, which comes to affording up to 4 riding lessons a week
Someone who has a lot less money for the top of their budget.
The top of ‘Sally’s’ budget is $250 per month. The riding lessons are $40 for an hour group and $70 for an hour private. Sally decided to do group lessons because it is more affordable.
So 250 divided by 40 ends up being 6 lessons a month.
Then 6 divided by 4 means she can afford only 1 lesson a week.
If you want to ride more often than you are able to afford ask the barn if it is possible to work off riding lessons.
You can sometimes work off extra lessons or riding time by:
- doing barn chores
- cleaning tack
- bathing or grooming horses
- braiding for shows
- tacking up horses for your trainer
Be creative and see what you can do to earn extra lessons.
I have also known riders that couldn’t afford once a week and didn’t have time to work off lessons. They were only able to afford once every other week. That’s okay if that’s where you are right now.
Enjoy the time you do have to ride, try to get the most out of your lessons you can and try to improve in your riding off of the horse.
Related Article: Improve Your Horse Riding Skills At Home With 8 Yoga Ball Exercises
Factor 2: How Much Time Do You Have For Riding Lessons
You now know how many lessons a week you can afford. But even if you had all the money you could ask for, if you don’t have time to take lessons, then you aren’t going to be riding.
Look at your weekly schedule and see what days and times you are free. Are there things you can move around to make time for riding lessons?
I looked at my schedule and I have time available Monday Tuesday and Thursday evenings.
I can afford up to 4 lessons a week but I am only available 3 days a week.
So I go to set up 3 lessons during those times. When I go to set up lessons for 3 days a week only 2 of the 3 lesson spots I want are open.
So I will be taking lessons 2x per week.
‘Sally’ has time available for 5 days during the week.
But she is only able to afford up 1 lesson a week. So she finds out what is available for lesson times at the barn and there are 3 available days she can choose from.
Then Sally picks the best day and time out of the 3 that are available.
Keep in mind the lesson schedule at the barn. That can affect how often you are able to take lessons.
Your instructor may or may not have extra lesson times available in their schedule.
Your instructor doesn’t have extra availability? Take extra lessons with another instructor.
Using Different Riding Instructors
If you decide to have more than one riding instructor you need to know that instructors often differ. Riding instructors usually vary in their methods and approach that they use to teaching horseback riding.
Being taught different methods of riding can hinder your learning. You can get easily confused about which riding method to use. It’s a good idea to acquire the basics of riding before learning different riding methods.
Although on the positive side, another approach to riding can help you when one method is not working well with you or a certain horse.
Often one thing that works with one horse, may not work for a different horse.
Key Takeaway On Time: Remember that how many lessons you ride a week will be affected by
- your availability
- the barn and instructor’s availability
Factor 3: Determining Your Goals For Horseback Riding
What are your riding goals? By this, I don’t mean the small goals you are working toward in your riding. I mean the overall picture.
Figure out what your overall goal of riding lessons is for you.
- Do you just want to take riding lessons for fun recreationally and maybe as a stress reliever?
- Do you want to take riding lessons because you are interested in competing in horse shows?
- Are you just wanting to learn the basics of how to ride and that’s it?
- Do you want to learn how to ride and become good at it?
- Do you want to learn how to become an expert rider and potentially ride professionally?
- Do you want to learn to ride because you want to buy a horse?
- Do you want to take riding lessons for exercise?
These are just some ideas of goals or reasons people have for taking riding lessons. Take your time and figure out what things are motivating you to want to take riding lessons.
If you want to take lessons for fun you may be happy with riding once a week. Whereas if you want to strive to become an expert rider then you will want to take lessons more often and maybe lease a horse or do some practice rides as well.
Keep in mind the more weekly lessons you take the faster you will reach your riding goals. Though your progress speed toward your goals will look different than someone else’s.
So don’t feel bad if it is taking you longer to reach certain goals than other riders.
Factor 4: How Much Do You Want To Ride
The last factor to consider is how much do you want to ride. Do you only want to take a lesson once or twice a week? Do you want to ride as much as possible?
If you want to learn to ride as quickly as you can but you don’t want to take lessons more than once a week, then you’re probably going to be disappointed. Unless you are riding and practicing between lessons with your horse, a lease horse or in practice rides.
If you want to ride more and can’t afford it. Remember what I said earlier, try working at the barn if possible to earn extra lessons.
Keep in mind you can also improve your riding out of the saddle. Check out my post: How You Can Improve Your Riding Skills Without A Horse
So figure out how many lessons a week you actually want to take and create a plan to make it happen.
How many lessons does it take to learn to ride a horse?
My Video Answer:
I’m sorry but there are no magic numbers for this. I have taught over 400 different people who mostly took weekly lessons and they all progressed at different levels and speeds.
Okay if you really want some sort of number I will give you a real-life example of myself.
To get down the basics of low level jumping and dressage it took me 6 years. 2 years of lessons every other week and 4 years of weekly lessons.
To get to a professional level of riding and teaching at the mid to lower end it took me an extra 10 years.
In those 10 years I immersed myself in the horse world. Some of that included:
- equine degree
- instructor certification
- working student positions at dressage barns, eventing barns
- working as a stable hand, barn manager, riding instructor, horse trainer
- owning and retraining thoroughbreds
- teaching lessons
- training young horses
- running a boarding and lesson business
Personally, I was not a natural equestrian. I have always had trouble remembering new things. I wasn’t the fittest kid. I also had a good amount of fear when it came to riding as much as I loved it.
These types of issues are factors that will affect how many lessons you need and how long it will take for you to progress.
Here is a list of factors to help you assess how long it’ll take you to learn how to ride well.
Factors that will effect how many lessons you will need to be a competent rider:
- Your natural balance and ability
- Your stamina, strength, and flexibility
- Your coordination
- Your ability to follow directions
- Your ability and willingness to learn
- Your level of anxiety and fear
- The horses you are riding
- Your instructor
- How often you are taking lessons.
Examples of student progress speeds:
Rider progressing at a quicker speed: Student learned how to post at the trot, in the first lesson. She had no previous riding lessons and was able to move with the horse in a steady rhythm while staying balanced.
Rider progressing at a slower pace: Student had trouble getting a steady rhythm at the posting trot. She would often bounce in the saddle losing her balance. It took her 6 months of weekly riding lessons to finally get a steady rhythm and stay balanced at the posting trot.
I want to point out taking more lessons weekly will help you learn faster but not just because you are riding more.
It will also help you learn faster because the new knowledge will be fresher in your mind if it was only a few days ago as opposed to a week ago.
Then you can build upon what you know and move along faster. If you had a lesson a week ago you may need more of a review and a refresher taking that extra time to get back in the groove and remember what you learned.
Lastly, I just want to point out that you will never stop being a student with horses and riding. There is always more to learn and more to improve. I have been riding for over 20 years and still consider myself a student.
Horseback riding is more of a lifestyle than a skill you master and finish.
Are Horse Riding Lessons Worth It?
My Video Answer:
Horse riding lessons are worth it when you find a riding instructor that will challenge you enough to create progress but at the same time help you feel safe and secure.
Riding lessons that have goals and structured plans to reach those goals will help you to feel like you are accomplishing something because you actually are. You are moving forward and getting better when you are working towards your goals.
Good lesson horses are also valuable in riding lessons. Maybe you have ridden mostly green horses. Riding a well-trained schoolmaster will give you the opportunity to focus more on yourself as a rider.
With a quality lesson horse you can more easily work on your:
- body mechanics
- learning the correct ways of riding
If you are just starting out riding it is much safer for you, and kinder to the horse to take riding lessons. In this case, riding lessons are definitely worth it.
A riding instructor will teach you how to:
- stay safe around horses
- develop the fundamentals of riding
- better communicate with the horse
- improve your balance and position
You will be much less likely to fall off or get taken off with if you have an instructor guiding you along the way keeping you at a safe pace for the level you are at.
Some horse riding lessons are not worth the cost! When the instructor doesn’t have enough experience and is teaching you incorrect principles or techniques.
When the horses are not being well cared for and they are not well trained, misbehaved may be due to insufficient training or pain. When the instructor doesn’t seem to be engaged in the lesson.
When you feel like you are never learning anything new and it’s the same thing every lesson.
Did you find this article helpful? Check these out:
- How You Can Improve Your Riding Skills Without A Horse
- 7 Reasons Moms Should Horseback Ride as a Hobby!
- Can I Wear Leggings Horseback Riding?
- Do I Need My Own Riding Helmet For Horseback Riding Lessons?
- The Budget-Friendly Guide For What To Wear Horseback Riding
- 10 Must Read Horse Books For Getting Started As An Equestrian
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