Riding Establishment Licence

Do I need a Licence?

If you hire out horses for people to ride and/or you use horses to provide instruction in riding, you will need a licence to do so.

Eligibility Criteria

Applicants must be over the age of 18 years and are expected to be suitably qualified by either experience or certified by an appropriate certification body.  They must have not been disqualified:

  • from keeping a riding establishment
  • from keeping a pet shop under the Pet Animal 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 fee and comply with any conditions attached to a licence.

Regulation Summary

A summary of the regulation relating to this licence.

Please Note:  With effect from 1st October 2018, The Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018 update a number of licensing provisions.  Anyone with an existing animal related business or planning a business should read the regulations and the guidance notes which accompany them.
Guidance notes and conditions in relation these changes can be found under related documents section of this page.  We strongly advise that these are consulted in advance of making an application.
Application Evaluation Process

Before determining 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.

On receipt of your application, the Council will arrange for your stables and any other facilities that you use to be inspected by one of its professional staff and for your horses to be inspected by the Council’s Consultant Veterinary Surgeon. The licence will be issued subject to compliance with licence conditions and payment of the licence fee and the cost of the veterinary surgeon inspection.

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 the following conditions are required by the Act, whether specified in the licence or not:

  • that any 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 local authority a veterinary certificate that the horse is fit for work
  • that 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
  • that the business will not be left in the charge at any time of any person under 16 years of age
  • that the licence holder holds 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 as aforesaid 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 as aforesaid
  • that the licence holder keeps a register of all horses in his possession aged three years and under and usually kept on the premises, which shall be available for inspection by an authorised officer at all reasonable times (Sec. 1(4a))

If all this proves to be adequate then your licence will be issued for one calendar year, or for the remainder of the calendar year if it starts at any other time.  Licences have to be renewed annually or at any other time if you add or remove horses to or from your licence. 

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 authority within 14 days of your inspection please contact it.

Renewing your licence

Renewal applications must be received before the expiry of the current licence.

Change of circumstances

Tell us about a change to your existing Riding Establishment licence

Application forms
If you require an application form you can download a copy from the related documents section on this page. Alternatively please contact the Environmental Health & Licensing Team.
Please note that there are three sections to the application which need to be completed and submitted; including a Standard Applicant Profile, a Declaration and an application form that relates to the specific animal licensing activity you are applying for (listed under ‘relevant documents’ as Part A, Part B and Part C respectively).
Please send in the completed application forms with the relevant documentation required (including public liability insurance and any other documents requested within the application form specific to the activity you are looking to be licensed for) to West Somerset Council, West Somerset House, Killick Way, Williton, Taunton TA4 4QA
A fee is required to accompany the application and please check the Schedule of Fees.
Failed Application Redress

Please contact West Somerset Council in the first instance.

Any person aggrieved by the Council's refusal to grant such a licence, or by any conditions subject to which such a licence is granted may appeal to the Magistrates Court.  Full details will be included on any letter of refusal.

Consumer Complaint

In the first instance you should complain, preferably in writing, to the trader.  If that does not resolve the issue, please contact the Licensing Unit.

We look forward to receiving your application and if you have any difficulty with any of the forms or have any questions, please contact us on 01643 703704 or email customerservices@westsomerset.gov.uk or complete the online form.

If you have any comments, enquiries or feedback about any of our services, please complete the online form.  Your comments will be collated and used to improve the service we provide.