"Lessons are How Much?!"
Do you know why I got into horses? Because I love them, of course! I started my own lesson and show barn so that I could share my love with anyone that wanted to open up their lives to horses as well! One of the greatest feelings that I experience is when someone truly falls in love with a horse here. A second phenomenal experience is watching a horseman of any skill level grow in their horsemanship! It is so pleasing and incredibly self satisfying! To know that myself or my horse’s had a role in that part of their life is just AWESOME! However, even though this is an incredibly enjoyable passion for me, I also made it into a career. A career that is supposed to pay for a mortgage, a truck payment, electricity at my farm/house, my groceries for myself and family and yes, a paycheck. I feel that not everyone understands that or tries to understand that though.
An aspect of this business that I have struggled with over the last handful of years, is that I have wanted to make life with horses accessible for all individuals of all walks of life, but in doing so, I realized that I was losing more money than gaining and wasn’t even breaking even with my business expenses. As much as I absolutely love working with horses and all of the great people that I do every single day, I still have to be making an income to help support my family. I have the exact same bills that 95% of humans have! I just don’t work in an office, a hospital, on a computer or at a desk. My job is with horses and people. See, I not only have to be able to pay myself personally at the end of the day, but before I pay myself, I have to pay the business expenses!
With that said, let me explain why many barns, instructors and trainers get offended when certain discounts are asked for. We have a lot of people that ask us for a discount because they purchased X number of lessons at once, and in all honesty, let me ask you this….why should there be a discount (asked in a sincere tone)? My horses will be doing the same amount of work, I will be putting in the same number of hours and my expenses will be the same. Other times, folks will ask for a discount because they have more than one child that wants to ride. I have more than one child of my own also, I understand how expensive children are. But, again, the fact that you have two children isn’t any less work for myself, my staff or my horses and doesn’t lower my expenses. See, the more you ride, the more I have to feed my horses. That brings me to explaining just a few of the major expenses that go into running a WORKING farm, that is, one that is someone’s livelihood. I think this is a crucial read for those that are paying for a lesson service and even a boarding or training service!
I, like the majority, base my prices on a few things: the going rate for the service being provided, the knowledge and information that I feel I possess, the cost that it takes to maintain my horses (feed/grain, hay, farrier, vet, dentist, etc), the cost that it takes to pay my employees (instructors, barn staff, etc), the cost of my insurance for myself and business, and a final large expense would be the cost of the facility as a whole. No, these things might not matter to you but it is important for you to have an understanding of how prices are set and why they are generally raised every couple of years. The cost of our grain goes up, the cost of our hay goes up, our farrier raises his rates, etc, and essentially it is just a chain reaction. We understand how much you feel that you are paying to “ride a horse.” But to us, it is much more than that. Us providing you with this service is how we LIVE.
Something else that gets brought up a lot is our time. Time is money to us. So, when traveling to a horse show to coach, a lesson that is an hour away, or an evaluation of some kind, we will most definitely factor our driving time into our costs. That hour spent driving….could have been used on my farm teaching a lesson for $65. So, yes, it makes complete sense that you cover the cost of our time while we are in route for you as a professional somewhere. I get it, everybody wants something for little to nothing in today’s world but it just can’t happen. Working a job and making a living is what we as instructors and trainers are doing. I am NEVER going to be even remotely wealthy by having a lesson and show barn, but I do need to be able to survive just like the rest of you. Remember, that hour lesson fee isn’t what your instructor or trainer is actually taking home at the end of the day!