Demystifying Horse Training Prices

Want to learn about horse training prices so you don’t end up broke, with a horse that isn’t broke to ride? It is a big decision to send your horse in for training (or to do this for others) and you want to make sure your hard earned money doesn’t end up being wasted. It’s kind of like deciding what college to go to! Princeton may be an awesome school, but a state college may offer a more competitive price and you can still get a quality education.

Just like colleges, horse training prices vary greatly! Prices will vary from as little as $200/month to over several thousand dollars a month. Many people have sent their mount to the “trainer” only to get back a horse that wasn’t trained at all, or worse yet he comes back worse than he went out! What does it cost to train a horse? How do you determine what price is fair? There are a lot of variables that go into determining horse training prices so let’s discuss a few of them.


In real estate there is a saying about worth when buying and selling houses. It’s all about location, location, and location! A mobile home in the middle of the desert 200 miles from the closest town is not going to sell for much. Likewise if that same mobile home is attached to the ground on a 1/10 acre of Malibu beachfront property it could bring a million bucks!

Are you sending your partner to New York City for training where hay and boarding prices and space is at a premium? Or is he going to a small midwest farm where hay is grown locally and space is more abundant?

A lot of the same things can be said about horse training prices. Depending on where you are looking, whether in the local area you live in or shipping your horse out to another state, prices are going to vary a lot. Because many facilities include board and/or feed in the fees, the regular cost of board for that location will play into the overall price.


This is one of the biggest factors in determining horse training prices. Who is doing the work and what is their skill and accomplishment level? If you have a Grand Prix dressage rider you can guarantee that it is going to cost you WAY more than if have Lucy down the street that has ridden up to 2nd level do the job.

This doesn't mean that either person can’t do the job you need done, but you will need to assess the training and competition goals for the horse first. If you need your horse just to get through 1st level dressage you probably can use Lucy down the street. If you are looking to ride up to 4th level, you may need that Grand Prix trainer with that highly specialized experience so your horse can reach his potential.


There are professional credentials in the equine world, but they vary across disciplines and are not centralized. Some natural horse training systems such as Parelli have ratings for instructors and trainers that use a quantifiable scale of experience to gain credentials. Most trainers that are outside a professional organization do not. The trainer may have ridden to a certain level in competition or have so many titles to his or her credit more than a professional credential. This will factor in when determining horse training prices.

The more professional certifications a trainer has, the more they will probably charge. That is in no way to say that a trainer without professional certifications cannot do a good job.

The horse industry has more trainers without any professional credentials that with them. Horse training is still largely learned through apprenticeship and experience. Although a person may have a horse training degree from a four year university, it would not automatically make them more qualified than someone that has trained under a skilled professional for several years and then worked with many horses.

What Style Do They Train?

There are so many styles of riding and even driving horses. From barrel racing to combined driving, to race horse training the sky is the limit for disciplines to choose from. When used in determining horse training prices what sector of the industry you are in or you want training for will change the cost. I am sure you can imagine that the trainers for the race horses in the Kentucky Derby command a large horse training price because they are so well known in their industry.

If you are in Hunter/Jumpers and need a horse trained for that, it’s going to cost you a whole lot more than if you need a horse started and ready for pleasure riding. This is not only because the hunter/jumper will need more time to be trained because of the level it needs to be trained to, but also because there are probably less good specialized hunter/jumper trainers out there than there are general trainers. The more specialized the style of training, the more you can expect to pay. After all it is their horse training business, and supply and demand rules! Also if there are few trainers in the discipline you have chosen training for expect longer wait times and higher prices.

How Much Training Does my Horse Need?

When determining prices, you should also take into consideration the duration of the training. The industry standard for getting a horse started from no riding background into being ridden or “started” is 90 days. Usually the training is done by month, so if you do a 120 days you may get some kind of break, or at least you can ask for one. This would also give more time for your horse to come back a solid riding partner. Depending on the horse’s unique personality and prior training, training make take longer.

Other Factors in Prices

Find out whether the training price includes board and feed such as hay or grain. Some prices are quoted for training only, and some have all the hay, feed and board included in the training price quote. More may be charged by the trainer for other incidentals such as pick up and delivery and possibly how difficult the horse is to train. If you are bringing Spirit, the wild mustang stallion be ready to pony up some cash!

How to Determine if Prices are Fair

Find at least 2-3 trainers in the discipline you are looking for training in and call them to price shop and get a feel for them. Find out what is included in the price (see above) and calculate out a total cost per month that includes all fees, transportation (if needed) board, hay, feed, and training.

Also be sure to ask how much actual training time per day and per week the horse will receive. Full training generally includes five days a week worth of training, but it is always best to ask.That way you will be able to accurately compare price per month of training. Compare all the price quotes you received.

Quality is Best

When determining what a horse training price should be, you should know that the most important point is that it isn’t all about price! Unfortunately, there are many people that aren’t actually horse trainers and say they are! Just because someone has watched some horse training DVD's doesn't make them a trainer. Some of these people will make your horse worse than he already is! Others will let your horse stand in a stall 6 days a week and ride it one hour a week and call it training!

The quality of the trainer and his or her work ethic is what is most important. ALWAYS make sure you visit the training facility before making a commitment. Take a tour, find out how many horses are in training. Watch a training session or two and ask lots of questions. Also observe the horses in their stalls or paddocks. Do they look happy and interested in people? Get at least three references and check up on them!

I can tell you that once I visited a large reining barn and it was the saddest place I have ever been. To this day I can remember the same sour attitude of every horse. It was a big name reining trainer for the area and he had lots of horses in training. Every horse in that place had its rear pointed to the people that came by. Either a butt to you or mad ears and teeth headed your direction! If the horses don’t look happy, curious and engaged, RUN don’t walk away! And DON’T send your beloved animal there. It is not worth breaking his spirit.


As you can see there are many factors that go into prices for your equine's education. Make sure that all the details are ironed out before your mount is on the trailer or you are committed to the trainer. That includes using written  contracts for each horse that specifies the price, how many days, how many hours a day, how many days a week, and what kind of work he will receive while there.

Be specific about the goals you are looking for the horse to meet and be sure and discuss this with the trainer.

That way when he gets home it will be good for you both. You will have a happy, well trained horse, and he will have had a pleasant learning experience!

Here are some other articles you may enjoy:

Horse Training Career

How to Become a Trainer

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