Hiring of Horses

If you run a business hiring out horses for riding or riding lessons, then you will require a licence.

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.

When Do I Not Need A Licence?

You will not need a licence if you are:-

  • 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.

How To Apply

Read the Statutory Guidance and Conditions.

Complete the application form, and return with the relevant supporting document and application fee.

Guidance and procedure notes can be found in Useful Links.

If you wish to pay online - Click here to make payment and quote payment reference on the application.

 We recommend you contact our Planning Department to determine whether a planning application is required.

Application Process

Before a licence can be issued, an officer will arrange to visit your premises to carry out a risk assessment, and to see how you look after the animals in your care.

The officer is required to establish whether the mandatory conditions that will be attached to a licence can be complied with.  The officer will also assess the applicant to ensure they are a fit and proper person to carry out the licensable activities.

Once the above matters have been considered, a star rating will be issued, ranging from 1 to 5 stars.  Depending on the star rating, the licence will be issued for 1, 2 or 3 years.

Business Support 

We offer a range of business regulatory support services which may be of assistance.  These are available to help assist businesses to be more successful and compliant.

Premises with lower star ratings

A premise with a lower star rating is not necessarily a premise to avoid, as other factors are also taken into consideration, such as the length of time the licence holder has been operating.  New businesses will be assessed at a slightly higher risk because there is no history of good practice that can be considered.


 The Council may refuse to:-

  •  grant or renew a licence, or

  • revoke or vary a licence

 Any person who is aggrieved by a decision may appeal to the First-Tier Tribunal within 28 days of the decision.


Licence holders must submit renewal applications at least 12 weeks prior to the expiry of the licence.  This enables the application to be accessed, and inspections carried out, so the activity can continue to operate without a break.