Hiring out of horses is licensable for either or both of the following purposes:

  • Riding;
  • Instruction in riding.

This includes businesses which hire out horses for riding or for riding lessons, this includes riding schools and those that hire out horses, trekking, loan horses, pony parties (but only where the ponies are ridden), hunter hirelings, polo/polocrosse instruction and pony hire, pony and donkey rides.

If you wish to hire out horses “in the course of a business” within the Rother district you will need a licence from us. The licence will specify the number of animals which may be used in relation to the licensable activity; general and specific conditions will be attached to the licence.

Eligibility criteria

Hiring out of horses is licensed under The Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018

In order to apply for a licence you must not have been disqualified from doing so under any legislation relating to animal welfare. You must also have not had a licence revoked under any legislation relating to animal welfare. For more information please read the Animal Welfare Act Regulations 2018 Eligibility Criteria

DEFRA have produced Guidance notes for hiring out horses. If you are unsure if you need a licence or not, you should pay particular interest to the Introduction section, which includes advice about the business test and ‘in scope’ and ‘out of scope’ licensing criteria.

The new guidance is subject to change and DEFRA are issuing change logs as changes occur. It is therefore really important that you read the guidance notes and the change log document below:

You must be able to meet and maintain a number of conditions. The conditions are available to download. You must read these thoroughly before applying to make sure your business can comply:

Do I need planning permission?

We strongly recommend that you contact Planning and check whether the licensable activity at the premises needs planning permission or not.

Application process and fee

The amount payable is dependent on the number of horses kept:

Number of HorsesFeeRe-grading Fee
1-10 Horses£490 (or £480 processing fee and £25 upon issue of the licence)£390
11-25 Horses£590 (or £580 processing fee and £25 upon issue of the licence)£490
26-40 Horses£690 (or £680 processing fee and £25 upon issue of the licence)£590
More than 40 Horses£790 (or £780 processing fee and £25 upon issue of the licence)£690

The fee for this licence  includes the initial veterinary inspection. The costs for additional and annual veterinary inspections are payable by the applicant/licence holder.  This applies to veterinary inspections required during the application process and during the licence period.

A separate application (plus application fee) is required for each additional licensable activity.

How to apply

If you have read the guidance notes and the conditions available in the Eligibility Criteria section and feel that you can meet the required standards, then you can begin the application process.

Please download our Hiring Out Horses Application

You will also need to make payment by visiting our Make a Payment page. If you are able to scan your completed application form in there is an opportunity for you to upload it when you pay. If you would prefer to post your application to us, we will need you to write your receipt number on your application form. You will be emailed your receipt number as soon as you pay and there is a space for this on the application form.

Once we receive your application we will send you an acknowledgement and you will be contacted to arrange an appointment for inspection in due course.

Inspections and Star Ratings

An inspection will be carried out before the licence is granted. The inspector will be looking to make sure the applicant has the following:

  • Specialist knowledge in the species that they are caring for and a clear understanding of its needs and welfare. This would include the animals’ mental and physical health, feeding and knowledge of environmental enrichment. The applicant should be able to demonstrate that they have researched and followed expert guidance in order to carry out their role.
  • Comprehensive records that contain all the information required by the conditions that apply to their particular activities.
  • An understanding of risks involved in caring for the animal, including an extensive risk assessment and written policies and procedures that are reviewed regularly. These documents should be available for the Inspector to examine.
  • Training procedures in place to make sure staff know what is expected of them, and clear evidence of good supervision of staff.
  • The premises itself will also be assessed so we can be sure the licence holder can meet the conditions relating to the physical environment in which the animals will be kept.

Based on the information provided and the inspection, we will assess the risk rating and award a star rating. This will determine the length of the licence period. Low-risk businesses can attain up to five stars, and premises that have been assessed as higher risk can be awarded up to four stars. If the applicant is not satisfied with the decision, they can make improvements to address highlighted issues, and ask for a re-inspection (fees apply). 

Full details of the star rating system procedure can be found in the Procedural Guidance for Animal Activity Licensing

Hiring Out Horses – Paperwork that must be completed

Requirements for “Hiring Out Horses” licence are frequently updated from year to year, below is a guide to the inspection process and required paperwork.

1) Please have all horses available and tacked up for the vet’s arrival.

2) Please have all horse passports available for inspection.

3) First aid equipment for both horses and people should be available to view.

4) Public liability Insurance documents should be available, and a certificate should be clearly and prominently displayed on the premises.

5) Fire safety documents (servicing of extinguishers) and a written Fire Risk Assessment should be available to view (A short guide to making your premises safe from fire is available from the UK gov.uk website using the following short link: https://goo.gl/Pq5TnP )

Emergency drills (at least annually). Practices recorded with failings noted.

There should be adequate fire alarms and no smoking signs should be on display. See Government fire safety risk assessment for animal premises and stables.

The legislation requires a detailed fire plan at the entrance to the property and that the name, address, postcode and telephone number of the license holder or manager are displayed prominently at the entrance. A copy of the license should also be displayed in a public facing area (ideally the entrance). You also should have your veterinary surgeons’ details on display including their out of hours number (this does not have to be in a public facing area)

6) Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 related risk assessments should be in place

  • Riders’ headgear, Footwear, Clothing, Handling of and safety around horses.

7) Please have copies of any qualifications achieved.

8) Please have a list of all horses in the riding school. It is now a condition of the license that microchips are checked on all horses. If the horse is microchipped the number can be found on the passport. The law now states that all horses need to be microchipped.

9) The legislation states: All areas, equipment and appliances to which the animals have access must present minimal risks of injury, illness and escape and must be constructed in materials that are robust, safe and durable, in a good state of repair and well maintained. Therefore, all fencing should be in a good state of repair and any damage to stables should be repaired.

10) Written procedures must be in place and implemented covering:

  • Feeding regimes,
  • Cleaning regimes,
  • Transportation,
  • The prevention of and control of the spread of disease,
  • Monitoring and ensuring the health and welfare of all the animals
  • The death or escape of an animal (including the storage of carcasses)

11) An appropriate isolation area must be available. Ideally in a separate self-contained facility, for the care of sick, injured or potentially infectious animals

12) Prescription medications must be stored in a secure lockable cabinet, which is permanently fixed to the floor or wall. Minimum and maximum temperatures must be measured and recorded to make sure the medications are stored at the correct temperature. A record must also be kept of all medications given to horses. This should include the name of the medication, the dose and the date given (or commenced if an ongoing medication)

13) External gates must be lockable and a designated key holder with access to all animal areas must at all times be within reasonable travel distance of the premises and available to attend in an emergency.

14) All arena surfaces must be suitable for purpose, well drained, free of standing water and maintained regularly to keep them level.

15) A daily record of the workload of each horse must be maintained and available for inspection.

16) A preventative healthcare plan agreed with your vet should be available to view. This should include sections on prevention of disease, control of disease and monitoring the health of horses including vaccination and worming plans. This should be signed off by your own vet. There must be a COSHH assessment in place for the management of infectious disease including zoonoses.

17) A written biosecurity plan is also needed. This should have 5 sections a) New arrivals protocol (This can be in a tick box format if wished) b) Quarantine – locations, procedure carried out daily with the horse and who will have access to quarantine c) Diagnostic tests e.g. strangles screening, worm egg counts etc and vaccination and worming policy d) Hygiene – disinfection protocols etc e) Outbreak Control. There will be some overlap between this and the preventative healthcare plan

18) A register of all horses used in the school is needed with each such horse’s valid passport showing its unique equine life number and a record of its microchip number which are now compulsory from 31.10 20 under new legislation.

It is desirable for each horse to have a care plan book or folder to hold all relevant documentation and daily welfare delivery of the matters mentioned or listed here.

19) You should have written evidence available to show horses have had regular dental checks with a vet or qualified EDT (i.e. within the last 12 months)

20) You should have written evidence to show that saddles have been regularly and properly checked for correct fit.

21) Feed should be stored in containers that keep it cool and dry and away from vermin. These should be robustly labelled on the bin itself (not the lid).

22) There should be a plan/record of feeding of each individual horse and a legible and up to date feeding chart on display.

23) The muck heap should be at least 10metres from any stables/haybarns etc. There should be evidence that it is removed regularly and there should be no concerns over contamination of waterways by run off. Ideally it should be enclosed with solid walls on 3 sides.

24) Floors must have a non-slip solid and even surface. There should be sufficient clean and non-dusty bedding to encourage the occupant to lie. Any rubber matting must be cleaned regularly, and a small amount of bedding must be available. Drainage must carry away liquid voided by the horses and keep floors and bedding dry.

25) Windows must be of safety glass or mesh protected.

Any riding hats provided must be stored, clean and fit for purpose, with clearly documented records of regular safety checks. A written procedure must be available and implemented for the safe use of riding wear where horses are used on public roads and spaces, including: a) riding hats; b) riding boots; c) gloves; d) body protectors; and e) Hi-Viz clothing.

Premises with lower star ratings

Existing businesses may be awarded a lower score if there are a number of minor failings but these cannot compromise the welfare of the animals. If animal welfare is being compromised then a licence will not be granted or renewed and licences already in place will be revoked or suspended. New businesses will be assessed as slightly higher risk because obviously there is no history of good practice that can be considered.

If you wish to dispute your star rating you should discuss this informally first with the inspecting officer. If you are not satisfied then please complete a Star Rating Appeals Form and return it to us at the address below.

Requests for re-grading

The fees for requests for re-grading can be found in the table above

You will need to complete a Star Rating Request for Re-grading Form and return it to us at the address below. You can make your payment by visiting our Make a Payment page.

Tacit consent

Tacit Consent does not apply to hiring out horses.

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.

Failed application redress

Please contact us in the first instance.

Any applicant who is refused a licence can appeal to the First-tier Tribunal.

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 Rights

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