Horse riding establishments

Horse riding establishments, where horses or ponies are hired out for riding or used for riding tuition, must be licensed under the Riding Establishments Act 1964.

Livery stables, which provide accommodation for other people's horses but do not hire horses for riding, do not require licences.

Applying for a licence

To apply for a riding establishment licence, please complete and submit the application form below.

On receipt of an application for a licence, we will arrange for the premises and horses to be inspected by a specialist equine vet (please note that the cost of this inspection will be recharged to the applicant, in addition to the application fee). The inspection will look at whether the premises are suitable for use as a riding establishment, and the condition and suitability of the animals. We will also interview the applicant to ensure that they, and their senior staff if applicable, have the experience and qualifications required to run a riding establishment.

When we consider the application, we will take the following matters into account:

  • The suitability, qualifications and experience of the applicant and their employees
  • The report produced by our vet following the inspection, and any recommendations made
  • The need to secure:
    • the welfare, good maintenance and suitability of the horses
    • that all horses feet will be kept properly trimmed, and shoes maintained in good condition
    • that suitable accommodation for horses will be available at all times (in terms of construction, size, number of occupants, lighting, ventilation, drainage and cleanliness)
    • the supply of suitable food, drink and bedding material
    • that animals are exercised, groomed, rested and visited at suitable intervals
    • for horses maintained at grass, that adequate pasture, shelter, water and supplementary food is provided
    • that all reasonable precautions will be taken to prevent and control the spread of infectious or contagious diseases, including the provision of veterinary first aid equipment and medicine
    • that appropriate steps will be taken for the protection and extrication of horses in case of fire
    • that proper facilities will be provided to store forage, bedding, stable equipment and saddlery

We will usually expect applicants, or a senior member of staff at the premises, to hold one of the following qualifications, or to be able to demonstrate significant experience in the management of horses:

  • [Assistant] Instructor's Certificate issued by the British Horse Society
  • Fellowship of the British Horse Society
  • Fellowship of the Institute of the Horse

Application form

 Horse riding establishment licence - application form (PDF 352KB)

Apply online for a riding establishment licence (via GOV.UK)

Details of current application fees can be found on our Licensing fees and charges page.

Can I start trading before my application is determined?

No. It is in the public interest that we fully consider your application before you start to operate. If you have not heard from us within a reasonable period, please contact us, using the contact details below.

Maintaining a licence

Licences will usually be granted for a year, although we may issue a provisional licence for a shorter period if we have identified improvements that must be made before the full licence is issued.

Renewal applications can be made prior to the expiry of the licence. A further inspection of the premises and the horses will be carried out on each renewal application.

Council officers and our vet may carry out periodic inspections of licensed establishments to ensure that standards are being maintained.

If a licence-holder is convicted of an animal welfare offence, the court may decide to cancel the licence as part of the sentence. Courts may also disqualify any person from keeping a riding establishment in the future.

Right of appeal

If your application is refused, you may appeal against the decision. Licence-holders may also appeal against a decision to attach a particular condition to their licence. In all cases, appeals must be lodged in a magistrates' court.

Licensed riding establishments

The following riding establishments are currently licensed by us:

  • Centre of Horseback Combat, Gaddesden Estate, Bridens Camp, HP2 6EX
  • Gaddesden Place Riding for the Disabled Centre, Gaddesden Place, Bridens Camp, HP2 6EX
  • Hastoe Hill Riding School, Hastoe Hill, Tring, HP23 6LU
  • Kings Langley Riding School, Chipperfield Road, Kings Langley, WD4 9JE
  • Old Town Riding School, Fletcher Way, Hemel Hempstead, HP2 5RR


If you have a complaint about a riding establishment, we would in the first instance advise that you talk to the owner, to see if the issue can be resolved directly. If this does not work, the Citizens Advice Bureau may be able to assist further and advise you on your rights.

We will investigate complaints about unlicensed riding establishments, or establishments operating in breach of their licences. Please contact us using the details below with your concerns.

More information

For more information on riding establishment licences, please phone us on 01442 228470, or email