Riding establishments


Riding establishments

To operate 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 your Local Authority.

Eligibility criteria

Applicants must be over 18 years of age and must not be disqualified from any of the following:

  • 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

A summary of Riding Establishment Regulation has been produced by the National Archives. We have also produced our own set of pdf icon Standard Conditions for a Riding Establishments [168kb]. If you are applying to operate a Riding Establishment for beach donkeys then please also see our pdf icon Standard Conditions for Keeping Beach Donkeys [61kb]

Application process and fees

Applicants must pay any required fee and comply with any conditions attached to a Licence. Our prices include the initial vet costs. The amount payable is dependent on the number of horses kept:

Number of HorsesFee
1-10 Horses£400
11-25 Horses£500
26-40 Horses£600
More than 40 Horses£750
Provisional Licence (3 months)£130 Excludes veterinary inspections costs, which will be charged

For new applications only, applicants may pay 5% less when making an application. If you do, you would then be invoiced for this amount plus £20 for the additional administration cost, when the licence has been issued.

Before deciding an application we will 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.

We will also take into account whether the applicant is suitable and qualified to hold a Licence. We 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 to any other conditions a Riding Establishment Licence must be subject to the following conditions:

  • That any horse inspected by an authorised Officer and found to need veterinary attention will not be returned to work until the Licence Holder has obtained a veterinary certificate confirming the horse is fit for work
  • That a horse will not be let out for hire or for use in instruction without the supervision of a responsible person aged 16 years or older, unless the Licence Holder is satisfied the rider doesn't require supervision
  • That the business will not be left in the charge of someone under 16 years of age
  • That the Licence Holder holds indemnity insurance
  • That the Licence Holder keeps a register of all horses in their possession that are three years old or younger and that the register is available for inspection at all reasonable times

In addition to the above, for further information on the licensing process, and the standards that you will need to adhere to, please read our pdf icon Riding Establishment Pre-application Guidance [339kb].

Tacit consent

Tacit consent to not apply to Riding Establishment licences.

It is in the public interest that we process your application before it can be granted.

If you have not heard from us within a reasonable period, please contact us. You can do this online if you applied through the gov.uk or use the contact details below.

How to apply

The Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018 come into effect on 1 October 2018 and this new legislation will completely change the animal licensing regime, including the application process.

We are currently waiting for new application forms to be provided by DEFRA and for new fees to be set. For more information please visit our New Animal Licensing Regime page.

We will update our pages as soon as we can.

Failed application redress

Please contact us in the first instance.

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

Licence holder redress

Please contact us 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 gov.uk can offer advice on Consumer Protection Rights.

Trade associations

You may find these organisations useful:

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