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Riding establishments

​To run a Riding Establishment you need a licence from the local authority. Licences to operate and keep a Riding Establishment are issued pursuant to the Riding Establishments Acts 1964 and 1970.

A Riding Establishment is the carrying on of a business of keeping horses to let them out for hire for riding or riding instruction.

The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) issue guidelines for local authorities and their Riding Establishment Inspectors.

The Chartered Institute of Environment Health issue Guidance on the Health and Safety in Riding Schools and Livery Yards.

How do I apply for a licence?

Contact your local authority by visiting GOV.UK . The City of London Veterinary Inspector, Michael Seton is on the Riding Establishment Inspectorate list and carries out inspections on behalf of contracted local authorities.

Who is eligible and what fees apply?

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

  • keeping a riding establishment
  • 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
  • from keeping owning animals, being able to influence how animals are kept, dealing animals or transporting or being involved in the transporting of animals pursuant to the Animal Welfare Act 2006
  • from owning, keeping dealing or transporting animals under the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006

What happens once I submitted my application?

The local authority will arrange an inspection of the horses and the premises by a veterinary surgeon who is listed on The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) Riding Establishment Inspectorate. See the Application Evaluation Process below.

An application can be approved, approved with conditions attached to the licence or refused.

What can I do if my application is not approved?

If your application has been refused or you object to a condition attached to the licence you may appeal to the local magistrates court.

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
  • 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
  • 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 the following conditions are required by the Act, whether specified in the licence or not:
  • a horse found on inspection of the premises by an authorised officer to be in need of veterinary attention shall not be returned to work until the holder of the licence has obtained at his own expense and has lodged with the local authority a veterinary certificate that the horse is fit for work;
  • no horse will be let out on hire for riding or used for providing instruction in riding without supervision by a responsible person of the age of 16 years or over unless (in the case of a horse let out for hire for riding) the holder of the licence is satisfied that the hirer of the horse is competent to ride without supervision;
  • the carrying on of the business of a riding establishment shall at no time be left in the charge of any person under 16 years of age;
  • the licence holder shall hold a current insurance policy which insures him against liability for any injury sustained by those who hire a horse from him for riding and those who use a horse in the course of receiving from him, in return for payment, instruction in riding and arising out of the hire or use of a horse as aforesaid and which also insures such persons in respect of any liability which may be incurred by them in respect of injury to any person caused by, or arising out of, the hire or use of a horse as aforesaid;
  • a register shall be kept by the licence holder of all horses in his possession aged three years and under and usually kept on the premises, which shall be available for inspection by an authorised officer at all reasonable times. (Sec. 1(4a)).

You must also meet the duty of care under the Animal Welfare Act 2006.


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