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Licence - Riding Establishment

    Business Licences and Street Trading

    Licences to keep a riding establishment are issued under the Riding Establishments Acts 1964 and 1970.

    Licence Summary

    To run a riding establishment (where horses or ponies are hired out for riding or used for riding instruction) in England, Scotland or Wales, you need a licence from the local authority. A Riding Establishment is 'the carrying on of a business of keeping horses to let them out for hire for riding or riding instruction'. Licences are renewable annually. The council will arrange for the inspection of horses and premises by a veterinary surgeon to ensure the welfare of the animals and that the accommodation is suitable. The licence will be issued subject to compliance with licence conditions and payment of the licence fee.

    Eligibility Criteria

    Applicants must be over 18 years of age. In England and Wales they must have not been disqualified:

    • from keeping a riding establishment
    • from keeping a pet shop under the Pet Animals Act 1951
    • from having custody of animals under the Protection of Animals (Amendment) Act 1954
    • from keeping boarding establishments for animals under the Animal Boarding Establishments Act 1963
    • under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 from keeping or owning animals, being able to influence how animals are kept, dealing animals or transporting or being involved in the transporting of animals
    • from owning, keeping dealing or transporting animals under the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006

    Applicants must pay the required fee of £116 and comply with any conditions attached to a licence.

    Regulation Summary

    A summary of the regulation relating to this licence

    Riding Establishment Guidance (pdf 20kb)

    Riding Establishment Conditions (pdf 16kb)

    Application Evaluation Process

    Before deciding an application the local authority must consider a report from a veterinary surgeon or practitioner detailing whether the premises are suitable for a riding establishment and detailing the conditions of the premises and any horses.

    The local authority will also take into account whether the applicant is suitable and qualified to hold a licence. They must also be satisfied of the following:

    • that consideration will be given to the condition of the horses and that they will be maintained in good health, kept physically fit and where the horse is to be ridden or used during riding instruction, be suitable for that purpose
    • that the animals feet will be trimmed properly and that shoes are fitted properly and are in good condition
    • that there will be suitable accommodation for the horses
    • that for horses maintained on grass there is suitable pasture, shelter and water and that supplementary feed will be provided as and when needed
    • that horses will be provided with suitable food, drink and bedding materials and will be exercised, groomed, rested and visited at suitable intervals
    • that precautions will be taken to reduce the spread of contagious or infectious diseases and that veterinary first aid equipment and medicines will be provided and maintained
    • that appropriate procedures are in place to protect and remove the horses in the case of a fire and that as part of this the name, address and telephone number of the licence holder is displayed outside the premises and fire instructions are displayed
    • that storage facilities for forage, bedding, stable equipment and saddlery are provided

    In addition the following conditions are required by the Act, whether specified in the licence or not:

    • a horse found on inspection of the premises by an authorised officer to be in need of veterinary attention shall not be returned to work until the holder of the licence has obtained at his own expense and has lodged with the local authority a veterinary certificate that the horse is fit for work;
    • no horse will be let out on hire for riding or used for providing instruction in riding without supervision by a responsible person of the age of 16 years or over unless (in the case of a horse let out for hire for riding) the holder of the licence is satisfied that the hirer of the horse is competent to ride without supervision;
    • the carrying on of the business of a riding establishment shall at no time be left in the charge of any person under 16 years of age;
    • the licence holder shall hold a current insurance policy which insures him against liability for any injury sustained by those who hire a horse from him for riding and those who use a horse in the course of receiving from him, in return for payment, instruction in riding and arising out of the hire or use of a horse as aforesaid and which also insures such persons in respect of any liability which may be incurred by them in respect of injury to any person caused by, or arising out of, the hire or use of a horse as aforesaid;
    • a register shall be kept by the licence holder of all horses in his possession aged three years and under and usually kept on the premises, which shall be available for inspection by an authorised officer at all reasonable times. (Sec. 1(4a)).

    Guidance on conditions for riding establishment licences is issued by the British Veterinary Association.

    Copies of the Riding Establishments Acts 1964 and 1970 can be purchased from Her Majesty's Stationery Office.

    Will Tacit Consent Apply?

    Yes. This means that you will be able to act as though your application is granted if you have not heard from the local authority by the end of the target completion period.

    Apply online

    Apply for a New/Renew a licence to operate a riding establishment

    Apply to amend a current licence to operate a riding establishment

    Refund Policy

    Please note that refunds of licence fees are not normally given. Only in exceptional circumstances, as deemed by the Licensing Manager, will a refund be considered. Any refunds given may be subject to an administration charge.

    Failed Application Redress

    Please contact the Licensing Section on 01785 619402 in the first instance.

    An applicant whose application is refused can appeal to the local magistrates' court.

    Licence Holder Redress

    Please contact the Licensing Section on 01785 619402 in the first instance.

    A licence holder who wishes to appeal against a condition can appeal to a local magistrates' court.

    Consumer Complaint

    We would always advise that in the event of a complaint the first contact is made with the trader by you - preferably in the form a letter (with proof of delivery). If that has not worked, if you are located in the UK, Citizen's Advice will give you advice. From outside the UK contact the UK European Consumer Centre.

    Other Redress

    Eg about noise, pollution, etc. Also should one licence holder complain about another. Please contact the Licensing Section on 01785 619402 in the first instance.

    Trade Associations

    Association of British Riding Schools (ABRS)

    British Dressage

    British Equestrian Federation (BEF)

    British Equestrian Trade Association (BETA)


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