Riding establishment licence
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, with an associated fee.
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.
Riding establishments are licensed by local authorities under the 1964 Act. The local authority may take into account the suitability of the applicant/manager, the accommodation and pasture, adequacy of the provision for the horses' health, welfare and exercise, precautions against fire and disease and the suitability of the horses as regards the reasons for which they are kept.
The local authority may attach conditions to the licence, may inspect the licensed premises at all reasonable times and may refuse a licence if the conditions at the premises are unsatisfactory or if the terms of the licence are not being complied with. A fee must be paid at the time an application is made. The fee covers the cost of administration, inspection and enforcement activity.
Further information is available from DEFRA.
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 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.
Will tacit consent apply?
No. It is in the public interest that the authority must process your application before it can be granted. If you have not heard from the local authority within a reasonable period, please contact it.
Failed application redress
Any person aggrieved by a refusal to be granted a licence may appeal to the magistrates' court. The courts may give such directions regarding the licence or its conditions as it thinks proper. Appeals must be made to the local Magistrates Court within 21 days.
Licence holder redress
A licence holder who wishes to appeal against a condition can appeal to a local magistrates' court.
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, see below. From outside the UK contact the European Consumer Centre.
Anyone who has not had a satisfactory response from the trader or who has reason to believe that a horse riding establishment is keeping animals in seriously inadequate conditions or where there is risk to riders should raise the matter with us using the contact details set out below.
- Health and Safety Team
- Barnet House, 1255 High Road, Whetstone London N20 0EJ
- Tel: 020 8359 7995
- FAX: 0870 889 6793
- Email: HealthandSafety@barnet.gov.uk