Animal licences

Horse riding establishments

If you hire out horses or donkeys or provide riding lessons for which you charge, you will require a horse riding establishment licence. Please note this does not include people having riding lessons on their own horses.

About the licence

Once the licence is issued, it is renewed annually. It is your responsibility to re-apply which you must do at least two months in advance of your existing licence expiring so as to allow adequate time for any inspection to be arranged and carried out.

The licence, once issued, will contain attached conditions that must be complied with. These can be found in sections 4(a) and 4(b) of the Riding Establishments Act 1964 (link opens in new window). The licence will also have additional conditions which are:

  • any ponies / horses introduced to the establishment since the last veterinary inspection that have not been examined by a veterinary surgeon with equine experience within the last 12 months must be examined before use with the public. The standard of examination must comply with the Royal College Veterinary Surgeons' guidelines in force at the time
  • occupied paddocks must be kept free of any rubbish, parked machinery or other equipment likely to cause injury to horses
  • horses at grass must be visited once daily by a person competent to recognise injury or illness
  • a day / diary / appointments book to be kept on the premises for inspection, which records the workload of horses

Please note that following a vet and/or council officer inspection, further additional conditions may be added to the licence to help ensure animal welfare and if necessary, rider safety.

The riding establishment licensing system

Year 1

Once a completed application form is received along with the relevant fee, it will be reviewed by one of our officer responsible for animal licensing. We will then arrange for the inspection of your horses and the premises by an equine vet approved by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) and the relevant officer. The vet will then forward a report to our officer about what has been found and recommend that a full 12 month licence or a 3 month provisional licence is issued. A provisional licence is issued when there are significant works to be carried out, but we (and the vet) believe these can be completed within a reasonable time-period. It is down to our discretion if a second provisional licence should be issued if works are still outstanding. Only two provisional licences can be issued within a 12 month period.

Please note that if a licence is refused, the fee will be refunded (minus the costs we have incurred). If a provisional licence is issued instead of a full 12 month licence, a further 25% of the original fee is payable.

Year 2

You must apply for a renewal at least two months before the expiry of the current licence. We may visit to check that the premises and operation of the riding school are satisfactory. Following this visit, if the licence conditions are being met a 12 month licence will be issued.

Year 3 onwards

You must apply for a renewal at least two months before the expiry of the current licence. We will arrange for the RCVS approved vet to visit to inspect the horses and premises before the licence is issued. Our officer may also attend this visit.

Providing your riding establishment operates to the satisfaction of the council, veterinary inspections are carried out every other year.


Fees for horse riding establishments until 31 December 2018
Number of horses
Full licence fee
Provisional licence fee
1 to 5
6 to 12

Provisional fee is 25% of full fee.

How to apply

Apply for a horse riding establishment licence >>

What happens after application?

After you submit your application alongside payment, we will contact you within 5 working days to advise you in general about the required standards and arrange an inspection.

Pay online >>

You can also pay by telephone (0300 300 8136 or 0300 300 4466) or by cheque (made payable to Central Bedfordshire Council.)

If you're thinking of starting a new riding school business, we recommend you contact us on 0300 300 4422 or 0300 300 4492 where you will be put through to one of the relevant officers to discuss what is expected beforehand.

Tacit consent

All Horse Riding Establishment licences are issued once the application form has been submitted, fee paid, and all necessary checks have been carried out by our officer and where necessary, the Royal College of Vetinary Surgeons' approved vet.

Tacit consent does not apply for this licence. You must not assume that your licence is granted if you have not heard from us.

Appeals and complaints

If you have been refused a licence or have a complaint about the issue of the licence, you can write to:

The Service Manager
Public Protection
Central Bedfordshire Council
Priory House
Monks Walk
SG17 5TQ

Alternatively, you can email the Service Manager at

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