I hope this is the right place for this question.
I've been wanting to take horseback riding lessons, but know absolutely nothing about what they should cost and what the lessons should consist of. I know E-hell has horse lovers out there and am hoping someone can help me out. If it's pertinent, I live about 40 miles northwest of Chicago. I have no experience whatsoever.
I'll try to tackle the second part of your question. I worked for a riding school for several years. There's going to be some variation in what different schools teach, so I'll give you what we (the Traditional Equitation School at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center) did.
Your first lesson is the "tack class," which is what I taught. It's all about safety and horse care. Some of the topics:
- How to enter a stall safely
- "This end bites, that end kicks. If either happens, it's your fault."
- How to halter and lead a horse
- Tying your horse safely to the rail
- Basic grooming (comb and brush)
- Cleaning hooves, including how to get a horse to pick up their hoof
- Putting a saddle on and adjusting the stirrup length and making sure the girth is tight
- Putting a bridle (with a bit, not just a hackamore) on
- Giving a horse a treat without getting your fingers crunched
My personal opinion is that if a school doesn't
teach you to groom and tack your own horse, it's not a good school.
Lessons were either private, semi-private or group. Not a lot different in content, but the focus is different. In a private lesson, the teacher can be very focussed on you, so you don't always have time to stop and think about things. In a group lesson, you have the chance to observe other people as they do things. Each has advantages and disadvantages. When I rode, I always had a mix of lesson types.
Your early lessons will include how to mount your horse, how to sit, getting moving and stopping. From there you'll work in the ring learning more aspects of riding, such as posting (if riding English.) How to hold the reins properly to control your horse. Turning. Going from a walk to a trot to a canter and back. Once you have the basics, then you can start in on special aspects of whatever style you want. Jumping or Dressage, for instance.