Riding Establishment Licence

If someone hires out horses for riding or instruction in riding they need to have a licence issued by the Council before they can operate

Who needs a licence?

You need a licence if you plan to hire out horses for the purposes of:

  • riding
  • instruction in riding

Government guidance notes on hiring out horses can be found on the Government website.

Inspections & star ratings

All premises will be inspected before the licence is granted. The inspector will be looking to make sure the applicant has the following:

  • specialist knowledge in the species that they are caring for and a clear understanding of its needs and welfare (including the animals' mental and physical health, feeding and knowledge of environmental enrichment)
  • comprehensive records that contain all the information required by the conditions that apply to their particular activities
  • an understanding of risks involved in caring for the animal, including an extensive risk assessment and written policies and procedures that are reviewed regularly
  • training procedures in place to make sure staff know what is expected of them and clear evidence of good supervision of staff
  • The premises itself will also be assessed against the new national standards relating to the physical environment in which the animals will be kept.

Based on the information, we will assess the risk posed by the business and award a star rating. Low-risk premises can attain up to five stars while premises that have been assessed as higher risk can be awarded up to four stars.

A premises with a lower star rating is not necessarily a premises to avoid as there are other factors that have to be considered, such as the length of time the licence holder has been operating. New businesses will be assessed as slightly higher risk simply because there is no history of good practice that can be considered. If you have any concerns, please contact the Environmental Health team prior to making booking arrangements.

If you have questions about applying for a licence or about an existing licence, please get in contact with our Environmental Health team using our contact form.

How to apply

We aim to process all applications within 42 days, but applications can take up to 70 days (10 weeks) to process, therefore:

  • existing licence holders will need to apply to renew their licences at least 10 weeks before the expiry date of their existing licence in order to ensure continuity of cover
  • new applicants will need to apply for a licence at least 10 weeks before they plan to operate their business

In order for an application to be considered complete, a valid application form and fee must have been received.

Please note: if you are applying for a licence for the first time, you will be refused a licence if you cannot meet the required minimum prescribed standards. You are therefore strongly advised to check the published guidance and audit yourself against this before making an application.

Please use the Animal Activities Application Form

The application costs are listed below. This does not include additional vets charges. 

  • Riding establishments (one year licence) - £461
  • Riding establishments (two year licence) - £461 + £221 at the end of year one
  • Riding establishments (three year licence) - £461+ £221 at the end of year one + £221 at the end of year two
  • There is an added charge of £13 per horse

This fee is not refundable if we have already carried out our inspection of your business.

Tacit approval will not apply to this type of licence because it is in the public interest that East Herts Council must process your application before it can be granted. If you have not heard from East Herts Council within a reasonable period, please contact us on 01279 655261 to discuss your application.

Public register

Details of all animal activity licences, including copies of licenses and inspection reports, are available on our online Public Register. You can find information on how to use the online Public Register on the Public Registers page.

Appeals and complaints

If you are refused a licence, you should discuss this with the inspecting officer who will explain why you have not been successful and what works are needed in order to enable the Council to issue a licence.

If you are unhappy with the service you have received you should use our complaint form where it will be directed to an appropriate manager depending on the nature of your complaint.

Consumer complaints

Depending on the nature of the complaint, we would always advise that in the first instance contact is made with the trader by you - preferably in the form a letter (with proof of delivery). If that has not worked and you should email environmental.health@eastherts.gov.uk with the details of your concerns.