If you want to run a riding establishment you’ll need to apply for a licence.

A riding establishment is a business that hires out horses or ponies for riding or a riding school.

DEFRA have created Guidance Notes for conditions for hiring out horses which lay down the conditions all authorities have to observe.


You must be over 18 to apply for a licence. You won't 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.

How to apply

If you want to run a riding establishment you will need to apply for a riding establishment licence. Please contact us to discuss your intention with an officer and obtain a license application form.


Before you get a licence your premises will be inspected by a vet and a council officer and you'll need to pay the  license application fee and any vet's inspection fee.   

Before we can give you a licence you'll need to show us 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'll also need to show us that:

  • precautions will be taken to reduce the spread of contagious or infectious diseases

  • veterinary first aid equipment and medicines will be provided and maintained

  • any horse inspected by a officer and found to need veterinary attention will not be returned to work until you have obtained a veterinary certificate confirming the horse is fit for work

  • you hold indemnity insurance that covers you for any injuries that result from people riding your horses

You must also keep a register of all horses at the riding establishment and make the register available for inspection at all reasonable times.

We can refuse to give you a licence if we do not feel the conditions for the animals are right. We may ask for additional conditions if we think the welfare of the animals or the safety of the public require them.

We therefore strongly recommend you contact us for a visit to advise you on what you need to do to comply with the licence requirements while you are still planning the business

Renewing your licence

A riding establishment licence is valid for between one and three years, dependent on the risk rating the premises is allocated following inspection. You will need to apply to renew your riding establishment licence at least three months before your license expires if you want to keep running the business.

Changing your licence

You will need to make an application if you want to make changes to your riding establishment licence. Please contact an Officer to discuss what you are planning.

Displaying your licence

You must display your licence or a copy of it at the riding establishment so that it can be read by anyone visiting the premises.


The Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018


If you have a complaint or enquiry about a licensed premises for horses please let the environmental health team know.  Contact the environmental health team by phone, 01395 571517, or email

Public register

If you would like to view our public register for riding establishment licences please contact us.

Trade associations

Association of British Riding Schools (ABRS)

British Dressage

British Equestrian Federation (BEF)

British Equestrian Trade Association (BETA)