I want to hire out my horse. Are there any regulations I need to be aware of?

The requirement for “riding establishments” to hold a licence

Where a person wishes to “keep a riding establishment” he must, in accordance with the Riding Establishments Act 1964, obtain a licence from his local authority.

What is a “riding establishment”?

A riding establishment is a business which keeps horses either for letting out on hire for riding and/or which provides riding lessons in return for payment.

Do the regulations apply to all types of horses?

The regulations apply to mares, geldings, ponies, foals, colts, fillies, stallions, mules, asses, and jennets.

Are there any exemptions to the requirement to hold a licence?

There is no requirement to hold a licence where horses are kept solely for police purposes or by the Zoological Society of London, or kept by a university for the purpose of the instruction of students studying for an approved course leading to a degree in veterinary science. Where horses are kept on land occupied by, or under the management of, the Secretary of State for Defence there is also no requirement for a licence.

Can a licence be granted to anyone?

  • If a person is disqualified from keeping a riding establishment, a pet shop or an animal boarding establishment a licence cannot be granted.
  • If a person is disqualified from owning, keeping, dealing in, having custody of or transporting animals a licence cannot be granted.
  • A person who is under the age of 18 cannot be granted a licence.

False information given when applying for a licence

It is a criminal offence, when applying for a licence, to knowingly, or recklessly, provide false information or to make a false statement. Where a person commits such an offence they may be fined and/or imprisoned. In addition any licence granted may be cancelled and the person may be disqualified from keeping a riding establishment for such period of time that a Court considers fit.

What matters will a local authority take into account when deciding whether to grant a licence?

A local authority is required to obtain and consider a vet’s report before it is allowed to grant a licence. The vet must have inspected the relevant premises not more than 12 months prior to the application or since the date of the application.

When deciding whether to grant a licence the local authority will take into account the suitability of the applicant or his manager and the suitability of the accommodation and the pasture.

The local authority will want to ensure that there are adequate provisions relating to the health, welfare and exercise of the horses and that reasonable precautions will be taken to prevent the spread of disease and to guard against fire. The local authority will also want to ensure that the horses are suitable for the purposes for which they are kept.

Provisional licences

  • If a local authority is not satisfied that a permanent licence should be granted it has the power to grant a provisional licence for 3 months.
  • A person is forbidden from keeping a riding establishment under a provisional licence for more than 6 months in any one year.

Conditions of a licence

Every licence is subject to certain conditions even if these are not expressly set out in the licence itself. These are that any horses, found on inspection to require veterinary attention, will not be used until certified fit; that provision is made for the proper supervision of riders who require it; that the business will not be left in the charge of a person under the age of 16 years; that proper insurance will be held; and that a register of horses aged 3 years and under will be kept.

A local authority may specify additional conditions. For example, it may be a condition of the licence that an applicant must hold an Assistant Instructor’s Certificate, Instructor’s Certificate or fellowship issued by the British Horse Society or a fellowship of the Institute of the Horse.

If a person wishes to appeal against any conditions of a licence then they may do so by making an appeal to the Magistrates’ Court.

Where a person contravenes a condition of a licence they commit a criminal offence and may be fined and/or imprisoned. The licence may also be cancelled and the holder may be disqualified from holding a licence for such period as a Court thinks fit.

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For more information on:

  • How long does a licence last for?
  • If a licence is refused can I appeal?
  • What are the consequences of failing to obtain a licence?
  • Inspections by local authorities and vets
  • Animal welfare and safety
  • Offences relating to the welfare of horses
  • Offences relating to the safety of riders
  • Offences relating to employees of riding establishments