Group Or Private Horseback Riding Lessons: What’s Best For You?

Riding a horse requires instruction, this is because you need to learn how to handle a horse and the etiquette of horse riding. If you are on the lookout for horse riding lessons, you may be offered group or individual riding lessons. This leads to the question: are group or private horseback riding lessons better?

Generally, both group and private lessons have their own strengths and weaknesses. Private lessons allow your instructor to focus on improving a specific area. In contrast, group lessons allow you to observe and learn from other riders as well as from your instructor. You may want to experience both lessons to see which suits you better.

This article explores the differences between group and private horseback riding lessons, before suggesting which may be better for you. 

Are group or private horseback riding lessons better?

Are Group And Private Horseback Riding Lessons Different?

Group and private horseback riding lessons differ in cost, attention from your instructor, sociability, and learning opportunities. These differences may result in you preferring one over the other. 

Group Horseback Riding LessonsPrivate Horseback Riding Lessons
Attention from instructorLess attentionFull attention
HigherVery low
Learning opportunitiesFrom instructor & other ridersFrom instructor

When it comes to horseback riding classes, you may commonly be offered two types of lessons: group or private. Despite still being about riding horses, the lessons may be different in many ways:


One of the biggest differences between group and private riding lessons is the cost. Generally, group lessons are cheaper while private lessons offer a one-to-one approach.  

This makes sense, as riding instructors usually get paid by the hour. This means if you are having private lessons with an instructor, you bear the full cost. However, suppose you enter a group lesson. In that case, the cost may be shared by several riders, which may help to make it more affordable. 

Attention from the instructor

When learning in private lessons, the instructor works exclusively with you. This means they can give their full and undivided attention to your progress. Compared to group lessons, the instructor may need to focus on you and your riding mates. As a result, some may people prefer to have private lessons.

However, some riders may also prefer group lessons as they can focus on improving and practicing and having the instructor come in only when necessary. They also may find the instruction’s full attention a little too overbearing.


Some take up horse riding not to compete or to be very serious about it but as a way to socialize and get to know people. As a result, these learners may prefer to engage in group lessons. Hence, they get to socialize with their fellow new riders. 

Group horseback riding lessons can be a good way to socialize

Learning opportunities

When it comes to learning opportunities, you may have more learning input in group lessons compared to private ones. In private lessons, you commonly learn from your instructor and from making your own mistakes. 

With group learning, you are also learning from your other riding mates. You can observe how they handle their horses and pick up a tip or two. Some riders find it easier to learn from someone slightly better than them and may prefer group lessons for this reason.

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Are Group Or Private Horseback Riding Lessons Better?

Private horseback riding lessons may be better if you do not mind the cost, are a committed rider and want full attention from your instructor. Suppose you are looking to experiment with the hobby, or prefer to approach horseback riding casually. In that case, you may benefit from group lessons. 

As a start, it could be said that both lesson styles have their strong and weak points. Depending on your preference and other factors, you may like one over the other. 

Group lessons

Want To Save Cost: If cost is a major issue, you are better off doing group lessons. This is because group lessons are generally cheaper, and over time, you should be able to pay less to enjoy the sport. You can always attend private lessons occasionally if you need to.

Prefer A Casual Approach To Learning Horse Riding: If you prefer to take up horse riding casually or want to try out the hobby, group lessons are the way to go. Group lessons allow you to socialize with other riders, and you also get to learn from other riders instead of only your instructor.

Want To Practice Instead Of Learning: After receiving input from your instructor, you need time to practice and get repetitions to improve your skills. An instructor may not be needed during this time. 

In group lessons, you may have the time to focus on practicing since your instructor can now work with other riders while you focus on yourself. You can, of course, have the instructor come in and help when you need them to.

With group horseback riding lessons you won't get one-to-one tuition

Private lessons

Don’t Mind The Cost: Cost is one of the biggest drawbacks of private horseback riding lessons. On average, it may cost you around $85 an hour for a private lesson, while for group lessons, you may pay around $65. 

The number is drawn from general riding class fees in four cities, New York, Las Vegas, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. The amount may not seem large, but the difference may increase over time. 

Private lessons are for you if you are okay with the cost of always paying more for your lessons.

Committed Learner: If you are a committed learner with dreams of one day competing in show jumping, dressage, or endurance racing, then chances are you would not mind too much about the cost.

In this case, you may prefer private lessons since you can receive higher-quality tuition from your instructor.

Want Full Attention: When you have a specific problem with horse riding and you want to improve, then you may do better with private lessons than group lessons. For example, issues such as riding posture or misbehaving horses.

This is because for an instructor to help you fix the issue, they may need full attention to observe, diagnose and try solutions to help you improve as a horse rider. Paying for a private lesson allows your instructor to do this and solve your issues.

Private horseback riding lessons will mean you get your instructors full attention

Further reading

If you enjoyed this article and are interested in learning to ride you might be interested in these articles:

I hope you found this article helpful. If you did I’d be grateful if you could share it please as it would really help me.

Recommended products 

Over the years I have tried hundreds of different horsey products, from various blankets and halters to different treats. Some I’ve loved, others I’ve hated but I thought I’d share with you my top all-time favorite products, the ones I never leave the yard without. I’ve included links to the products (which are in no particular order) that I really think are great.

  • Horse Knots by Reference Ready – If you’re like me and enjoy pocket reference guides then you’ll love this knot tying guide. These handy cards can easily fit in your pocket or attach to the saddle for quick reference. They’re waterproof, durable and are color coded to make them easy to follow.
  • Mane ’n Tail Detangler – Even if you never show your horse you’ll need to detangle his tail from time to time (and possibly his mane too) which is always a challenging chore! I’ve found that if I run a little bit of detangler through my horse’s tails every few days it stops them from getting matted up and makes combing them easy, even if they’re coated in mud. I don’t know if I should admit to this or not but it also works wonders on my hair.
  • TAKEKIT Pro clippers – Over the years I’ve tried a lot of different clippers and while some were obviously better than others I found these to be by far the best. They are heavier than a lot of other clippers but for me, that’s a good thing, it makes them feel more sturdy and hardwearing. On top of that they have a range of speeds so are just as good for clipping your horse’s back as they are his face. I also like the fact that they come in a handy carry case but that’s not for everybody. The company that makes them is super good and incredibly helpful too, a real bonus these days. The only thing I wasn’t keen on was the fact that it doesn’t come with any oil, but that’s not a major problem as it’s not difficult to buy lubricant.
  • Shire’s ball feeder – There are so many boredom buster toys out there but I like to use these every day, regardless of whether or not my horses are bored. I find that it helps to encourage my horses to problem solve by rewarding them with treats (or pieces of fruit) but it also mimics their natural grazing behavior which helps to keep them calm and de-stressed.
  • Horse safe mirror – This is a strange one that many people are surprised about but I like to put horse safe mirrors in the trailers as well as in the quarantine stalls. It helps to prevent the feeling of isolation by giving the impression of other horses being around. Being herd animals horses can get extremely stressed when they feel that they’re on their own but with these stick-on mirrors, they believe that at least one other horse is with them.
  • Rectal thermometer – I know this isn’t glamourous at all but it’s vital for your horse’s well-being to be able to check their temperature and a rectal thermometer is the easiest way of doing this which is why I’ve added it to the list.

Shopping lists

I’ve also put together a few shopping lists of essential items that I’ve found helpful over the years. I’ve broken the lists down into different categories rather than put everything in one massive list 😉

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