Hiring out horses

Changes to legislation →

On 1st October 2018, the Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018 (external link) came into force. This legislation has changed the way certain activities involving animals is licensed and regulated - this includes hiring out horse for riding, or instruction in riding.

If you hire out horses, you may need an animal activity licence. To obtain a licence, you need to ensure that you meet the specific licence conditions for hiring out horses.

Please note: Due to COVID-19 we have reviewed our processes to ensure we can comply with our legal responsibilities to safely inspect premises and be able to determine applications. We will now be doing this in a two-stage process, which will initially involve a remote assessment, followed by a site inspection. It is hoped that by completing most of the assessment remotely via phone, that the time spent on site to carry out the physical inspection will be considerably less.  

  1. Remote Assessments – These will usually take place within 4 weeks of an application (subject to receipt of all relevant documentation)
  2. Site Inspection – These will usually take place within 8 weeks of an application.

Do I need a licence?

You will need a licence if you are:

  • A business which hires out horses for riding or for riding lessons. This includes riding schools and those that hire out horses, trekking, loan horses, pony parties (but only where the ponies are ridden), hunter hirelings, polo/polocrosse instruction, pony hire and pony/donkey rides.

For further guidance on the conditions visit GOV.UK (external link).

When do I NOT need a licence?

You will NOT need a licence if you:

  • Are a business that runs pony parties where none of the ponies are ever ridden - these should be licensed as animal exhibits
  • Run activities that are carried out solely for military or police purposes (e.g. riding stables that are used exclusively for these purposes)
  • Have riding stables that are used exclusively for instructing veterinary students at university for the purpose of their course
  • Are an individual who occasionally lends a horse, even if a small fee is charged, where there is no profit made and no intent to make a profit.

Anyone carrying out this activity without the relevant licence could be prosecuted and face imprisonment of up to 6 months, receive a fine or both.

Fees

To find out how much your animal activity licence will cost, see:

How to apply

Please note:  The licence, if granted, is non-transferrable should the premises / business be sold or taken over by another operator.  If the licence holder dies, the personal representative of the licence holder can take on the licence provided that they inform the local authority within 28 days of the death that they are now the operators.

Inspections

We are required to carry out an inspection of all premises where licensable activities take place before we can approve an application.

As part of your inspection, you will be given a rating based on specific criteria.

What do I do if I already have a licence?

Before the expiry date of your licence, you will need to make an application for a licence under the new regulations.

You are advised to familiarise yourself with the new licence conditions to ensure you are able to comply with these before making a new application - see further guidance on complying with the new conditions (external link).

Public register

We maintain a public register of all the businesses which hold an animal activity licence, a copy of which is available below. This will be updated on a regular basis.

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