Hiring Out Horses

Hiring out of horses is licensable for either or both of the following purposes:

  • riding;
  • instruction in riding.

This includes businesses which hire 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 and pony hire, pony and donkey rides.

If you wish to hire out horses “in the course of a business” within the Wealden district you will need a licence from us. The licence will specify the number of animals which may be used in relation to the licensable activity; general and specific conditions will be attached to the licence.

Eligibility criteria

Hiring out of horses is licensed under The Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018 (external link)

In order to apply for a licence you must not have been disqualified from doing so under any legislation relating to animal welfare. You must also have not had a licence revoked under any legislation relating to animal welfare. For more information please read the Animal Welfare Regulations 2018 Eligibility Criteria (external link)

DEFRA have produced Guidance notes for hiring out horses. If you are unsure if you need a licence or not, you should pay particular interest to the Introduction section, which includes advice about the business test and ‘in scope’ and ‘out of scope’ licensing criteria.

The new guidance is subject to change and DEFRA are issuing change logs as changes occur. It is therefore really important that you read the guidance notes and the change log document below:

You must be able to meet and maintain a number of conditions. The conditions are available to download. You must read these thoroughly before applying to make sure your business can comply:

Do I need planning permission?

We strongly recommend that you contact Planning and check whether the licensable activity at the premises needs planning permission or not.

Application Process and Fees

The licence fee is dependent on the number of horses kept:

Riding Establishment Fees
 Number of Horses  Fee  Re-grading Fee
 1-10 Horses £490 (or £480 processing fee and £30 upon issue of the licence) £390
 11-25 Horses £590 (or £580 processing fee and £30 upon issue of the licence) £490
 26-40 Horses £690 (or £680 processing fee and £30 upon issue of the licence) £590
 Over 40 Horses £790 (or £780 processing fee and £30 upon issue of the licence) £690

The fees shown above include the initial veterinary inspection. The costs for additional and annual veterinary inspections are payable by the applicant/licence holder. This applies to veterinary inspections required during the application process and during the licence period.

A separate application (plus application fee) is required for each additional licensable activity.

How to apply

If you have read the guidance notes and the conditions available in the Eligibility Criteria section and feel that you can meet the required standards, then you can begin the application process.

Please download our Hiring Out Horses Application Form (pdf)

You will also need to make payment by visiting our Make a Payment page and selecting Animal Licensing from the drop down. The reference number will prefill for you but you will need to enter the amount. You will be emailed a receipt and there is a space for your receipt number on the application form.

Once we receive your application we will send you an acknowledgement and you will be contacted to arrange an appointment for inspection in due course.

Inspections and Star Ratings

An inspection will be carried out 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. This would include the animals’ mental and physical health, feeding and knowledge of environmental enrichment. The applicant should be able to demonstrate that they have researched and followed expert guidance in order to carry out their role.
  • 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. These documents should be available for the Inspector to examine.
  • 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 so we can be sure the licence holder can meet the conditions relating to the physical environment in which the animals will be kept.

Based on the information provided and the inspection, we will assess the risk rating and award a star rating. This will determine the length of the licence period. Low-risk businesses can attain up to five stars, and premises that have been assessed as higher risk can be awarded up to four stars. If the applicant is not satisfied with the decision, they can make improvements to address highlighted issues, and ask for a re-inspection (fees apply).

Full details of the star rating system procedure can be found in the Procedural Guidance for Animal Activity Licensing (pdf)

Premises with lower star ratings

Existing businesses may be awarded a lower score if there are a number of minor failings but these cannot compromise the welfare of the animals. If animal welfare is being compromised then a licence will not be granted or renewed and licences already in place will be revoked or suspended. New businesses will be assessed as slightly higher risk because obviously there is no history of good practice that can be considered.

If you wish to dispute your star rating you should discuss this informally first with the inspecting officer. If you are not satisfied then please complete a Star Rating Appeals Form (pdf) and return it to us at the address below.

Requests for Re-grading

The fees for requests for re-grading are shown in the table above.

You must complete a Star Rating Request for Re-grading Form (pdf) and return it to us at the address below.

You will also need to make payment by visiting our Make a Payment page as explained in the How to Apply section.

Tacit consent

Tacit Consent does not apply to hiring out horses.

It is in the public interest that we process your application before it can be granted. If you have not heard from us within a reasonable period, please contact us.

Failed application redress

Please contact us in the first instance.

Any applicant who is refused a licence can appeal to the First-tier Tribunal.

Consumer complaint

We would always advise that in the event of a complaint the first contact is made with the trader by you – preferably in the form a letter (with proof of delivery). If that has not worked Gov.uk can offer advice on Consumer Protection Rights (external link)

Useful links