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Riding establishment licence

To run a riding establishment (where horses or ponies are hired out for riding or used for riding instruction) in England, Scotland or Wales, you need a licence from the local authority.


Licenses are issued subject to a satisfactory vets inspection. The local authority may impose additional conditions before issuing a licence.



Apply online

Horse Riding Establishments

If you let out horses for hire or provide riding school services you will require a licence issued by the Licensing Authority.
The Riding Establishments Act 1964 defines the keeping of a riding establishment 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,'
But as not including a reference to the carrying on of such a business: in a case where the premises where the horses employed for the purposes of the business are kept are occupied by or under the management of the
  • Secretary of Defence or
  • solely for Police purposes or
  • by the Zoological Society of London or
  • by the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (Sec. 6(1)).


Horses kept by a university providing veterinary courses are also exempt and the place at which a riding establishment is run is to be taken as the place at which the horses are kept (Sec 6(2) and (3)).

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


Applicants must pay any required fees and comply with any conditions attached to a licence.

Regulation Summary

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
  • 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

Will Tacit Consent apply?

No. It is in the public interest that the authority must process your application before it can be granted. If you have not heard from the local authority within a reasonable period, please contact us. You can do this online if you applied through the UK Welcomes service or use the contact details below.


Full licences continue for one year beginning on the day on which they came into force and then expire. The date of operation, depending upon the wishes of the applicant, is either the day on which it is granted or the 1st January next.

Provisional Licences operate for three months from the day on which they are granted and are used where the Licensing Authority is satisfied that it would not be justified in issuing a full licence. The three months period of operation may, on application before the expiration of the three months, be extended for a further period of not exceeding three months so long as this would not exceed a six months period in one year.
On the death of a licence holder, licences pass to his personal representative for a period of three months and then expire. The three months period may be extended at the Licensing Authority's discretion.


On granting a licence the Licensing Authority is required to specify conditions as appear necessary or expedient to achieve all the objectives set out in the paragraph headed 'Matters for Consideration' above. 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 Licensing 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 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;


  • a register shall be kept by the licence holder of all horses in his possession aged three years and under and this register must be kept on the premises and shall be available for inspection by an authorised officer at all reasonable times.
Guidance on conditions for riding establishment licences is issued by the British Veterinary Association.

Failed application & Licence holder redress

Any applicant who is either refused a licence or wishes to appeal a condition of a licence can appeal to the local Magistrates' court, however please contact us in the first instance.

Consumer Complaint

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 Redress

E.g. about noise, pollution, etc. Also should one licence holder complain about another.

Trade Associations

Association of British Riding Schools (ABRS)This link launches a page on an external website in a new window.

British DressageThis link launches a page on an external website in a new window.

British Equestrian Federation (BEF)This link launches a page on an external website in a new window.

British Equestrian Trade Association (BETA)This link launches a page on an external website in a new window.


Approved Certificate – means
a. Any one of the following certificates issued by the British Horse Society, namely, Assistant Instructor's Certificate, Instructor's Certificate and Fellowship;
b. Fellowship of the Institute of Horse; or
c. Any other Certificate for the time being prescribed by order of the Secretary of State.
Horse - includes any mare, gelding, pony, foal, colt, filly or stallion and also any ass, mule or jennet.
Premises - includes land.
A to Z of Services




The Licensing Authority
Scarborough Borough Council
Town Hall
St. Nicholas Street
North Yorkshire
YO11 2HG
Tel: 01723 232323
Fax: 01723 365280

LGNL: 696

Scarborough Borough Council,Town Hall, St Nicholas Street, Scarborough, North Yorkshire. YO11 2HG
Customer First Contact Centre
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