Application for a Riding Establishment Licence

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 Council.

Apply Online

Apply for a licence to operate a riding establishment

Apply by post or email

Please complete a Riding Establishment Licence application and post or email it to us.

Eligibility Criteria

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

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

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 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:

  • 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
  • the animals' feet will be trimmed properly and that shoes are fitted properly and are in good condition
  • there will be suitable accommodation for the horses
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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:

  • 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
  • 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
  • the business will not be left in the charge of someone under 16 years of age
  • the licence holder holds indemnity insurance
  • 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

Regulation Summary

A summary of the regulation relating to this licence

What does it cost?

Application fees

What happens next?

You will be able to act as though your application is granted, if you have not heard from us by the end of 40 working days.

What happens if something changes?

Tell us about a change to your existing riding establishment licence

Application/Licence Holder Redress

If you are unhappy about the way that we have dealt with your application, the Council has a formal mechanism for dealing with such issues. Please see our Comments, Compliments and Complaints page or call our Customer Service Team on 01462 474000.

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 of 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 please visit GOV.UK.