Riding establishment licence

About riding establishment licences


If you intend to run a riding establishment (where you keep horses or ponies for the purpose of hiring them out for riding or riding instruction) you need a licence from the local authority where the establishment is situated.

The licence expires on 31 December in the year that the application is made or, if you so request, the licence may take effect from the start of the following year and expire at the end of that year. You must ensure that your licence is renewed by 1 January annually if you wish to continue running the establishment.

The following offences apply to the keeping of a riding establishment:

  • running a riding establishment without a licence
  • failing to comply with the conditions of the licence
  • letting out a horse on hire or using a horse for instruction or for the purpose of demonstrating riding when it is in such a condition that its riding would be likely to cause it suffering
  • letting out a horse on hire or using a horse for instruction or for the purpose of demonstrating riding when it is age three years or under or heavy with foal or within three months after foaling
  • supplying riding equipment which is so defective as to be likely to cause suffering to the horse or an accident to the rider
  • failing to provide proper care for a sick or injured horse
  • knowingly permitting a person who has been disqualified from running a riding establishment to have control or management of the establishment
  • concealing any horse maintained by the establishment with the intent of avoiding inspection
  • knowingly making a false statement for the purpose of obtaining the grant of riding establishment licence
  • obstructing or delaying a person in the exercise of his powers of entry or inspection.

Anyone found guilty of any of the above offences shall be liable on conviction to a fine or (save for the offence of obstruction) imprisonment for a term not exceeding three months, or both. If found guilty under this Act, the defendant's licence may be cancelled and they may be disqualified from keeping a riding establishment for such length of time the Court thinks fit.

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

Apply for a licence

Change a licence

Tell us about a change to your existing riding establishment licence (online form)

Licence refusal

Where an application for a licence is refused, the fee element covering the additional visit by the officer from the Corporation of London's veterinary service will be refunded, less the administrative charge for the refund process.  

Application evaluation process

Before deciding an application we must consider a report from a veterinary practitioner detailing whether the premises are suitable for a riding establishment and detailing the conditions of the premises and any horses.

We must also take into account whether you are suitable and qualified to hold a licence. We 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

We will aim to determine the application within four weeks of receipt of the report from the veterinary practitioner unless, in the officer's opinion, the licence should not be granted (or renewed). In such a case the application will be considered by the council's Regulatory Licensing Committee. This will take place within eight weeks of receipt of the report of the veterinary practitioner, unless the time period is extended by agreement with the applicant.

Will tacit consent apply?

Yes. This means that you will be able to act as though your application is granted if you have not heard from us by the end of the target completion period except in the case of a minor variation, where the application will be deemed refused if you have not heard from us within the legal period.

What can I do if my application is refused?

Any applicant who is refused a licence can appeal to:

South Western Magistrates' Court
176a Lavender Hill
London SW11 1JU

What if I am unhappy with a condition imposed?

Any licence holder who wishes to appeal against a condition attached to their licence can appeal to the South Western Magistrates' Court (address above).

What to do if you have a query about your licence

If you have a query about a licence issued by us, contact the Licensing Team.

European services directive

If you think that the Council has not complied with the European services directive by imposing requirements or conditions in respect of your application that are discriminatory, unfair or disproportionate, contact the UK SOLVIT Centre.

Consumer complaints about a riding establishment

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 complaints

If you are concerned about other matters relating to a riding establishment such as noise or smells, you can report it online.

Trade associations and other sources of information

Health and safety

Before setting up any business in the UK, you must ensure that it will comply with the relevant health and safety regulations. 

Further information on health and safety.