Licence summary

You need a licence from us to run a riding establishment where horses or ponies are hired out for riding or used for riding instruction.

Licences are generally valid for one year and will need to be renewed before the expiry date. Please allow enough time for your premises and horses to be inspected by a veterinary surgeon.

We may issue a provisional licence for initial applications. These will be reviewed after three months and, where appropriate, extended to 12 months.

What happens if I don't apply for a licence?

You can be fined up to £1,000 and/or imprisoned for up to three months if you run a riding establishment without a licence.

Are there any restrictions?

You cannot get a riding establishment licence if you have been banned from any of the following at the time of application:

  • keeping a riding establishment

  • keeping a pet shop licensed under the Pet Animals Act 1951

  • having custody of animals

  • keeping boarding establishments, such as boarding kennels and catteries

  • owning, keeping, dealing with or transporting animals.

You may also be refused a licence if you’ve committed an animal health or welfare offence.

How do I apply?

Complete the application and pay the fee online. You will also need to provide:

  • a copy of the planning permission for the premises

  • copies of any relevant certificates of qualifications

  • a copy of the public indemnity insurance policy for the riding establishment.

We will then arrange for your premises and horses to be inspected by a council inspector and a veterinary surgeon. If they are found to be fit for purpose, we will issue you with a licence and details of any conditions.

Apply for a Licence Online


The licence cost is made of three parts:

  • an administrative charge of £44.25

  • the cost of the council inspector’s time (see below)

  • the cost of the veterinary surgeon – this will be confirmed after the inspection has been carried out and must be paid before the licence is issued. 
Number of horses and/or ponies used
in riding establishment             
Council inspector's fee
Fewer than 5 £48.50
5-10 £60.50
11-20 £73.00
21-40 £85.00
41-50 £97.00

Fees for veterinary surgeons and council inspectors include:

  • travel time to and from the establishment

  • the time spent at the establishment

  • any necessary administration in connection with the licence.

If your establishment fails to meet the terms and conditions of the licence, a further charge of £97 per additional officer/visit plus any third party costs (such as vets’ fees) may be payable when you renew your licence.

Does tacit consent apply?

No. This means you must obtain a licence before operating a riding establishment.

Appeals and complaints

If you are refused a licence or want to appeal against a licence condition please contact us. If the problem cannot be resolved, you can appeal to the local Magistrates’ court.

Consumer complaint

We advise that consumer complaints are first made to the trader, preferably in the form of a letter (with proof of delivery). If that does not work, further advice is available from Citizens Advice.

For complaints such as noise pollution or one licence holder complaining about another, please contact us for advice.