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Horse riding establishment licence

A licence is required if your business hires out horses or ponies for riding, or operates a riding school.

You'll need to prove that you have suitable qualifications and experience of horse management, and that your horses are:

  • in good health and physically fit
  • suitable to be hired out and used for riding
  • provided with adequate food, drink and bedding
  • regularly exercised
  • safeguarded in an emergency.

You also need liability insurance that covers you for any injuries that result from people riding your horses.

You must keep a register of horses aged three years or under that are usually kept on your premises, and make it available for inspection.


You must be over 18 to apply for a licence. You will not be given a licence if you've committed any animal health or welfare offences, or if you've been banned from:

  • running a riding establishment
  • running a pet shop
  • keeping animals, including in a boarding kennel or cattery.

You must not leave anyone under 16 years old in charge of the riding establishment. Any riders under 16 must be supervised, unless you're satisfied that they are competent to ride without supervision.


Council officers accompanied by a veterinary surgeon will inspect your premises and horses before giving you a licence, and may visit at any time after your licence is granted.

How to apply

You can apply and pay online. The current fee is £281 (vets fees will be recovered in addition to the licence fee as a veterinary inspection is necessary to grant this licence). If you are unable to apply online please contact us and we will send an application form.

The licence expires on 31 December in the year that the application is made or, if requested by the applicant, the licence may take effect from the start of the following year and expire at the end of that year. A licence holder must ensure that the licence is renewed by 1 January annually if they wish to continue trading.

Government review of animal establishments licensing

In 2016 the Government consulted on changes to the legislation detailed on this page. No changes have taken effect however the Government has published plans on their website.


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