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Riding Establishment Licence

Changes to the Animal Licensing Laws

The Government has now published updated legislation for animal businesses and confirmed that these changes will take effect from 1 October 2018. Under the new laws, animal boarding businesses (including home boarders and day carers), dog breeders, pet shops and riding establishments will be covered under a single type of licence from that date. It will be known as an 'animal activity licence', with new nationally-set licence conditions for businesses providing animal-related services.


We cannot change these conditions as they are already set in the legislation. Businesses operating with these activities will need to comply with the new conditions, and will be assessed before the licence is granted to make sure they can meet them.


Those businesses operating under current licences will be able to continue to do so until the expiry date of their licence. All applications to renew licences will be under the new legislation.


To download the procedural guidance issued to local authorities, please click on the link below:


Procedural Guidance for Animal Activity Licensing 2018


To download the new licence conditions for each of the animal activities covered please click on the link below:


Conditions for the breeding of dogs

Conditions for hiring out horses

Conditions for the keeping or training of animals for exhibitions

Conditions for providing boarding for cats or dogs

Conditions for selling animals as pets


A schedule of fees and the application forms will be available at this page when they become available.


If you would like to make an on-line payment, please use the link in the listing on the left hand side of this page.


The full Privacy Statement for Riding Establishment licences can be viewed here

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 local authority

Eligibility Criteria 


The following persons may not apply for a licence:

  • a person who has at any time held a licence which was revoked under regulation 15 of the Regulations 
  • a person who has at any time held a licence which was revoked under regulation 17 of the Animal Welfare (Breeding of Dogs) (Wales) Regulations 2014(a) 
  • a person who has at any time held a licence which was revoked under regulation 13 of the Welfare of Wild Animals in Travelling Circuses (England) Regulations 2012(b)
  • a person who has at any time held a licence which was revoked under regulation 12 of the Welfare of Racing Greyhounds Regulations 2010(d)
  • a person who is disqualified under Section 34 of the Act
  • a person who is disqualified under section 40(1 and (2) of the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006(e)

Regulation Summary 

A summary of the eligibility criteria for this 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 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.  You can do this online if you applied through the UK Welcomes service or use the contact details below. The target completion period for processing these applications is 60 days. 

Apply online (You will need Version 9 (or higher) of Adobe Reader)

This facility is not currently available.

Failed Application Redress


Please contact the Local Authority in the first instance.

An applicant whose application is refused can appeal to the local magistrates' court

Licence Holder Redress


Please contact the Local Authority 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

Other Redress


Trade Associations


Association of British Riding Schools (ABRS)
British Dressage

British Equestrian Federation (BEF)

British Equestrian Trade Association (BETA)
British Horse Society
Riding for the Disabled Association