Hiring out horses licence

If you would like to hire out horses, you must obtain a licence under the  Animal Welfare Act 2006, including running a riding establishment, where horses or ponies are hired out for riding or used for riding instruction.

Animal welfare regulations are rules under the Animal Welfare Act 2006, and cover licensing of various activities that involve animals. The Regulations came into force on 1 October 2018.

The following activities also need a licence:

Applying for a licence

You can apply for a licence if you can demonstrate that you are:

  • a fit and proper person
  • not disqualified from holding a licence (in accordance with Regulation 11 and Schedule 8)

Apply for a hiring out horses licence

You will need to submit an application fee at the same time as your application. Details can be found on our Fees and charging page.

When the length of your licence is known, you will need to pay the licence fee.

Application process

Once we have received your application, we will contact you to arrange an inspection.

During an inspection, we will check that you comply with the standard conditions for each activity you have applied for.

You will need to meet the requirements of all the minimum standards, although minor failings may be noted or recorded providing they do not compromise the welfare of the animals.

The premises will also be risk rated.

Each licensable activity has further optional conditions for higher standards and can be found at Hiring out horses licensing guidance – GOV.UK.

The conditions require you to keep and maintain documents and records. A checklist for the documents is available.

The checklist of documents is for the standard conditions only; the higher standards may require you to keep additional documents or records.

A veterinary surgeon who is qualified to inspect riding establishments will need to carry out an inspection. We will provide you with a list of inspectors, and you will need to choose one from that list. We will also provide you with the inspection form that the veterinary surgeon needs to complete. The completed inspection form needs to be submitted with your application.

Higher standards and risk rating

The higher standards are shown in the activity specific conditions.

The required higher standards are shown in blue and the optional higher standards are shown in red. To achieve the higher standard, you will need to demonstrate that you meet the required higher standards and at least 50% of the optional higher standards.

The risk rating, along with the inspection form, helps us to determine the star rating of the premises. This sets out how long the licence lasts for.

The risk rating document cover areas such as;

  • history of compliance,
  • welfare standards such as provision of enrichment equipment,
  • management standards, including having a process to recording and acting on customer feedback.

All new businesses which do not have compliance history with a Local Authority or a member of a UKAS accredited scheme will be rated as high risk.

License provision

If a licence is issued, we will provide:

  • The licence with the star rating
  • Details of how the business has been rated, including a list of the higher standards the business currently fails to meet or a list of the minimum standards the business if failing to meet and resulting in a “minor failing” category.
  • A copy of the risk management assessment table
  • Details of the appeals process and timescales

License duration

The licence can last for 1, 2 or 3 years depending on the outcome of the risk rating and the inspection.

A veterinary surgeon who is qualified to inspect riding establishments will still need to carry out an annual inspection, even if your licence lasts more than one year. We will send you reminders about these.

Licences granted for the first time will only last for 1 year if the standard conditions are met, or 2 years if the standard and higher standards are met.

Star rating appeals

We have an appeals procedure in place for you to dispute the star rating given.

You will be provided with the inspection reports which will highlight the inspecting officer’s decision on how the risk rating, compliance level and star rating has been determined as part of the licence issuing process.

The appeal must be made in writing within 21 days.

It will be assessed and determined by an appointed licensing officer, who will not be the same officer who carried out the inspection. If you disagree with the outcome of the appeal, you can challenge it by way of judicial review.

If the appeal process involves another inspection and the outcome of the appeal does not result in a higher star rating being awarded, you will have to pay the fee for re-inspection.

We advise discussing the matter with the inspecting officer before making an appeal.

If you accept the star rating you are awarded, but then make improvements to achieve higher standards, you can apply for a re-inspection. There will be a fee for this.


We must refuse to issue a licence if:

  • the applicant cannot meet the licence conditions
  • the granting of a licence will have a negative impact on animal welfare
  • the level of accommodation, staffing, or management is inadequate for the well-being of animals

A licence cannot be issued to an applicant who is disqualified.

You have the right of appeal to a First-tier Tribunal within 28 days of the decision notice.

The new Regulations introduce a range of enforcement powers to allow us to issue a suspension, variation or revocation notice where conditions are not being complied with, where there is a breach of the regulations or issues relating to the protection of the welfare of an animal.

Register of licensed businesses

Visit Licensing Register to see a list of registered businesses in the Sedgemoor area.

Last reviewed: May 4, 2023 by Daniel

Next review due: November 4, 2023

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