Swedish researchers have identified the factors that determine the price of horse-riding lessons, finding that the schools’ distance to urban areas, population density and local household income are important influences.
Other factors are organization, leadership and the facilities available at the school.
The study was carried out by researchers in the Department of Economics at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences.
Sebastian Hess, Yves Surry, Robert Kron, Carolina Liljenstolpe, Gunnar Lindberg and Hans Andersson set out to investigate what factors affected the pricing of lessons in Sweden.
A questionnaire was sent to riding schools across the country and the responses were assessed using a hedonic pricing model, a common method to analyze how different quality attributes affect price variations on a product or service.
Some examples of quality attributes for a horse riding lesson are access to formerly trained or experienced teachers, the availability of an indoor riding arena and other facilities not directly linked to horse riding, such as a shower room or a café.
The idea is that the price is the result of supply and demand for a combination of different levels of the quality attributes.
The important attributes found in the study could be sorted under the riding schools’ geographical placement, the organization, the facilities and their management.
The researchers found that riding schools depended heavily on the willingness of customers to commute.
Hess and his colleagues also found that if a school is close to an urban area, or a high income area, the price for a riding lesson will be higher, compared to the price at riding schools in more remote areas.
Newly established riding schools were found to have lower pricing than older riding schools.
At some riding schools the volunteer work is incorporated in the pricing and at schools with many volunteers the price is lower, the researchers found.
If the school has access to an indoor riding arena or there is a jumping course, the prices are higher than if there are no such facilities. In fact, they found that the presence of an indoor arena proved to be the single most important physical price determinant.
Formal training of the instructors had little effect on the price, the research team found, with the exception of instructors with formal training to instruct children.
The study found that many riding schools had not only invested in horses for their customers, but also in specific infrastructure and facilities for guests and children. Most of the schools surveyed had an indoor arena and provided access to showers, lockers, changing rooms, a café and other related leisure facilities.
Riding school managers were typically female, middle-aged and had vocational or university education.
The research team also noted that schools surveyed actively incorporated non-monetary contributions of customers into their pricing schemes.
The project was financed by the Swedish-Norwegian Equine Research Foundation. The findings of the study were recently published in an article in Journal of Outdoor Recreation and Tourism.
Hess, S., Surry, Y., Kron, R., Liljenstolpe, C., and Andersson, H., (2014), A hedonic analysis of the price for horse riding lessons in Sweden, Journal of Outdoor Recreation and Tourism, Volumes 7-8, December 2014, 65-74. doi:10.1016/j.jort.2014.09.003
The abstract can be read here.