Trainer Rates

I really don’t know how to put this, so I guess I’m just going to ask. I purchased a gelding that needs “finishing”. He will be a trail horse. I am boarding him still at his current/previous (however you want to consider it) home so that he has time to be finished, which is fine. There is a trainer that the facility that the owner uses frequently and I have been quoted at $45/per “ride” to finish him. After some research, I’m wondering if this isn’t too high? Admittedly I have to ask the trainer some questions and find out specifics, etc., but I am assuming that a “ride” would include an hour of working with the horse. I just want to be sure that this isn’t reasonable before I go and speak with her so that I know what I’m walking into, more or less. Like, if she says that a “ride” is, indeed, just one hour of time spent with the horse and I’m paying 45/hour…I know that training isn’t cheap but at that rate, if I paid for five days, for a month, that is around $900 per month? That’s definitely too much from what I’ve seen. I would have assumed that the more reasonable rate would be around $300 per month if worked with for five days during the week.

Also, would it be unreasonable for me to ask to be a part of some of the training as I can manage it? Are owners typically a part of the training?

TLDR: I guess what I am mostly wondering is what is a reasonable rate (boarding and care not included, that is being paid for separately) to have a horse trained/finished and what should this rate include?

Any and all insight is greatly appreciated!!!

You won’t find anyone worth paying for $300 a month, riding your horse 5 days a week, IMO. (I wouldn’t even do that.)

I don’t think $45 a ride is unreasonable. Might be a little high but I do think you need to ask more questions. If the trainer is good, I wouldn’t have a problem paying that. Are you expected to have the horse trained for X number of days? X number of rides?

I pay my reining trainer $800 a month when I send my horses. He rides most days, but not every day. Of course, that number does also include board along with training.

Also, per ride is going to usually be a different (higher) rate than if you actually, for example, send a horse for 30 days training.


Yes, I agree. I will definitely be asking a lot more questions when I go tomorrow. It will be my first time speaking with her about the possibility, so I’m sure I will find out a lot more. I just wanted to go in with a little idea of what is and is not reasonable given that I have never had to engage in anything like this before!

Depends on your region, discipline, and quality of/demand for the trainer, but $45 per single ride is normal in my experience. Training packages (on top of board) are $400-$800, depending on number of sessions per week. There is almost always a financial incentive to pay for a months package.

If the trainer won’t incorporate you into the training program, they may not be the right one for you. As long as you are safe on the horse and at an appropriate skill level to not cause damage, you can usually work getting a lesson or two a week as part of the training package.

ETA that I personally wouldn’t get hung up on a strict one-hour session length. An excellent, productive 30-min ride can easily turn sour if pushed longer. No need to cause stress with the trainer by picking that argument.


I would call that very reasonable if it’s a good trainer. You are paying for their skill to do.something you cannot do. Otherwise you would finish the horse yourself. if they are willing to make some of these sessions a private lesson for you on the horse, that’s well below our local rate of about $65 minimum for lessons.

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Oh, thank you. I am just going to have to find out what the $45/ride entails then and go from there! At least I know now that is is not an outrageous rate. I just didn’t want to be taken advantage of!

Thank you both very much!

I’ve never heard of a trainer who is “finishing” a horse charge per ride. That tends to fall more with colt starters.

Does the trainer work full time out of the facility or travels? If traveling they have most likely built in travel time/expense into their hourly rate. A trainer working FT out of one facility can work a lot more horses in a day with a helper tacking/grooming then someone who has to travel barn to barn. Also does the facility charge a ring usage fee to outside trainers? That may be built into the hourly fee as well.

As someone mentioned above don’t get hung up each session being exactly one hour…horses learn at different speeds…and the desired lesson might click in 30 minutes one day and 90 the next…as long as there is continued forward progress you are getting your money’s worth.

For a training program to be successful the owner/rider does need to be involved…many trainers like to get a solid base on the horse before having the owner get real hands on to have a better idea of how the horse learns, how it will react, what mistakes the horse will tolerate, etc. As the training progresses the owners involvement should be more involved for sure…each trainer has their own timeline of how to make that transition and something to discuss ahead of time for sure but knowing that it needs to be flexible depending on what the horse tells you.

Depends what kind of arrangement you have. Are you putting your horse in training for at least a month?
If so, I have a monthly rate of $950 for stall board and training for 30 days.
If you want less than a month then it’s $40/day for board and training. Yes, that adds up to significantly more per day then the month rate but the bottom line is…when I take your horse on, I have to kick one of mine to the back burner…it will have to be worth my time to kick mine out to ride yours for 2 weeks. Hence $600 for 2 weeks.
Individual lessons or haul in and I rode your horse are $50 each. Again, it’s varied schedule where I have to set one of my horses to the side to ride yours. And it’s not fair to my steady customers to charge the random drop ins the same $.
And let’s face it, a haul in lesson or training ride is never just an hour.

Im curious to hear the details on this. Is it actual training and board that’s worked out to $45 per day? Or? What state are you in?

In SoCal, that would be very reasonable. Why not do 3x a week and have you ride on in-between days so you can try out what she is teaching him?


Trainers tend to charge per month and ride the horse as much and when it needs it, some rides longer, some less so.
That insures consistency in the training.
Catch rides paid by the ride is more for exercising horses.
They could be part of a training program, but not the program itself to “finish” the horse’s education.


Agreed Bluey. The only time people pay “per ride” with me is if they are hauling in for a tune up before a show or legit taking a lesson. Training needs to be consistent or not at all.

but I am assuming that a “ride” would include an hour of working with the horse

well, for us a least, when we had a young green horse in training as long as the horse learned the task the session was done, might be 15 minutes. We met with our trainer every so often mapping out the goals. We kept the horse here as long she kept improving, which she did. We spent a considerable sum, but obtained a horse who was very, very good

I just wanted to chime in and say that at your proposed rate of $300 a month for ~20-25 rides, you are paying your trainer $12-15 an hour (if they are only spending an hour with your horse per session). You can’t even find people to clean stalls day that rate near me.

Around me, training packages on the lower side are $600 for 5-6 days a week and up to $1200 for the higher end. You would feel lucky to find someone competent for $40 a single ride, most are $60+

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Any sports coach is going to charge around 40-50 for an hour of their undivided attention in a private setting. The really good ones will charge up to twice that for an hour. With the understanding that it might be less then an hour if goals for that session are met earlier in the best interests of the horse.

Never ceases to amaze me so many horse people think their professionals aren’t worth what a skating, dancing or MA teacher or gymnastics coach is for a 1 hour private session. Of course, some do charge less because thats what their time is worth and nobody will pay them more for mediocre (at best) results.

Do you know this trainer, seen them working horses, know any of their clients? Can you sit in on one of her training sessions to see how she works a horse?
There is a difference between being cheap and unreasonable and frugal and cautious because, well, it’s your horse, your time, and your money.
I don’t mind paying as long as I am getting value. If an instructor sits in a corner saying ‘good, good, good’, that relationship won’t last long. Training is another matter because you have to trust that the trainer is doing their job while you’re not there and that they’re doing their job in a way that is not harming your horse.

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I train show horses, and I charge on a “per ride” basis. This doesn’t mean that a horse doesn’t get consistent riding. The owner and I agree up front how many rides the horse needs per week to be where we want it to be. But if I’m traveling to a show that horse doesn’t go to, or if I get sick and don’t come in a day - the owner doesn’t get charged if their horse does not get worked. I have an assistant and just brought in another one, but if two of us go to a show, the one left can’t possibly ride all the horses that are left at home each day. Furthermore, if a horse on a 5/day/wk program has just done 3 shows in a row, we might decide to dial it back for a week or two, and owner just gets charged for work done. I felt it was the only fair way to do business. YMMV.

Thats often called a la carte pricing. My favorite way to go as its flexible depending on both owner and horse needs each particular month. You have to look forit but its out there. As is about every other pricing format you can think of. Just because you may never have seen it, doesn’t mean its nit out there. If you look. Some if these trainers have gone to a minimum amount of their services you have to use monthly or they add a service charge to your board bill…and thats fair long as its disclosed, if you want a nice, well maintained, well managed barn you can afford to board at.

For OP, good, experienced trainers wont do a la carte scheduling and pricing on colts being started. Colts don’t learn and retain a la carte on a flexible schedule. Colts need a very regular, daily schedule for at least the first 30 day, 60 is much better, 90 best. And they need to be allowed to work the colt as they see best and bring the owner in only after the colt has mastered basics and learned to keep full focus on the rider. Only then should the owner be added to the process. IME that takes 4-6 weeks depending on how good the rider is and how well the colt is going.

I would focus on finding the best trainer to do this for you, one with a solid reputation a a colt starter rather then looking at price. If you can not afford it, wait until you can. Colts can wait a bit if you want then correctly started including working with you on the colts after colt reaches the point thats appropriate.

There’s no “best by” date stamped on a colts forehead and most of your “ friends” telling you otherwise don’t have a clue or a bit of experience with colts. Take your time, save up and do it right. Save you much training money and frustration in the future to just get it done right to start with.

It is going to depend very much on your area. The good trainers around here don’t charge per ride, they have the horse in training for x amount of time 30, 60, 90 days, indefinately etc. The horse is ridden anywhere from 3-5 days a week depending on what it needs. Amount of time per ride is also dependent on what is trying to be accomplished. Usually at least one lesson a week on their horse is included for the owner, provided said horse & owner are in a place where that is going to be safe & productive.

Most will charge a per time fee for extra lessons & that runs anywhere from $45-$75/lesson depending on any number of factors. Seems like the range in this area for board & training is in the $1000-$1500/month depending on the trainer, the facility etc.

I pay board ($500 which I find beyond reasonable for the feed program, quality of care and barn) plus $375 a month training which includes a lunge 4-5 days a week which I appreciate and then about 2-4 training rides a week. The training rides are probably only 15 minute rides, which is perfect for my young filly. I don’t want her overworked. For ala carte single training rides in my area, I see the price at around $50 for what I assume to be an hour.