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Riding establishment licence

Proprietors of riding establishments must apply annually to the local authority for a licence.


Licence summary

Definition: Under the Riding Establishments Act 1964 a riding establishment is defined as: "the carrying on of a business of keeping horses for either or both of the following purposes, that is to say, the purpose of their being let out on hire for riding or the purpose of their being used in providing, in return for payment, instruction in riding".

If you hire out horses or donkeys or provide a riding school service, you will require a licence. The licence is valid for one year from the date of issue and then expires.

Provisional licences operate for three months from the day on which they are granted and are used where the local authority is satisfied that it would not be justified in issuing a full licence.

Upon application the three month period may be extended for one further three month (maximum) period at our discretion.

Note: No person in Hillingdon may operate a riding school unless they have first obtained a licence from the council.

What you need to know before applying

Criteria: Applicants must be over 18 years of age and must not have been disqualified from:

  • keeping a riding establishment or pet shop
  • having custody of animals
  • keeping boarding establishments for animals
  • have a conviction under the Animal Welfare Act 2006

Qualifications: Any one of the following certificates issued by the British Horse Society:

  • assistant instructor
  • instructor
  • fellowship

Alternatively the following are acceptable:

  • fellowship of the Institute of the Horse
  • any other certificate for the time being prescribed by order by the Secretary of State

Exemptions: This licensing requirement does not apply to:

  • livery stables (solely used for the stabling or keeping of horses for money)
  • the Police
  • the Military
  • the Zoological Society of London
  • universities providing approved courses for veterinary students

Licence conditions: In deciding whether or not to grant a licence, the local authority must, without prejudice to its right to refuse a licence on other grounds, have regard to certain matters which include:

  • whether the person has suitable qualification or experience to hold a licence
  • the condition of the horses, feet and saddlery
  • suitable accommodation
  • where appropriate, the condition of pasture
  • suitable food, drink, bedding and exercise facilities
  • suitable disease control and precautions in event of fire
  • provision of adequate accommodation for forage, bedding and equipment
  • the keeping of a register of all horses aged three years and under

You will also be required to hold a suitable insurance policy covering potential liabilities arising from the keeping a riding establishment.

Health and safety: You are responsible for ensuring the health and safety of anyone affected by your business.

How to apply

Fees and charges: Fees for all applications: 2016-2017 [207kb] 

Before a licence is issued, a veterinary inspection is required for the establishment, an additional fee does apply.

Note: As part of the online process you may be asked to upload documents eg public liability insurance or confirm dates when fire fighting appliances were serviced etc. You will not be able to complete and submit the application form without this information.

Apply for a Licence

Apply for an extension

In the event of the death of the licence holder or if you are uncertain whether your business requires a licence contact the Applications Processing team.

Find out more about the application process [21kb]

Offences and penalties

Anybody found guilty of:

  • operating a riding establishment without an appropriate licence
  • failing to comply with any licence condition
  • hiring out a horse for riding in such a condition that riding it would cause suffering
  • hiring out a horse for riding aged three years or under
  • hiring out a mare heavy with foal or a mare within three months after foaling for riding
  • supplying riding equipment that is defective and which may cause suffering to a horse or an accident to the rider
  • failing to provide care to a sick or injured horse
  • permitting a person disqualified under the Act to have control or management of a riding establishment
  • obstructing or delaying an Inspector or Authorised Veterinary Practitioner or Veterinary Surgeon 
  • concealing horses maintained by the riding establishment
  • giving false information or statement in order to obtain a licence shall be subject on summary conviction to a fine or to imprisonment or both.

Where a person is convicted of any offence under the Riding Establishment Act or for any offence under legislation relating to animal health/welfare or licensing, the Court may cancel any licence to keep a riding establishment and disqualify the person from holding such a licence for such a period as the Court thinks fit. The cancellation or disqualification may be suspended by the Court in the event of an appeal.

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Article utilities:  Bookmark and Share Print Print this page Last updated: 03 Oct 2017 at 08:59