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 council.

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 any required fee and comply with any conditions attached to a licence.

Regulation summary
View a summary of the regulation relating to this licence on www.legislation.gov.uk

Application evaluation process 
Before deciding an application the council 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 council 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. 

What happens if your application is not processed by the council within the timescale stated?
This means that you will be able to act as though your application is granted if you have not heard from the council by the end of the target completion period.

Apply online at Business Link
Apply for a licence to operate a riding establishment.
Tell us about a change to your existing riding establishment licence.

Apply by post
Application form
Please complete and return to the licensing team.

Failed application redress 
Any person who disagrees the refusal to be granted a licence may 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, if you are located in the UK, Consumer Direct will give you advice. From outside the UK contact the UK European Consumer Centre.


Trade associations

Association of British Riding Schools (ABRS)
British Dressage 
British Equestrian Federation (BEF) 
British Equestrian Trade Association (BETA)

For more information and advise, please contact us.