Apply for or Renew a Licence for Hiring out Horses


You need to apply for a licence if you want to run a riding establishment. 

A riding establishment is a business which 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, pony and donkey rides.

You don’t need to apply for a licence 

  • to run pony parties where none of the ponies are ever ridden
  • solely for military or police purposes (e.g. riding stables that are used exclusively for these purposes).
  • riding stables that are used exclusively for instructing veterinary students at university for the purpose of their course.
  • individuals who occasionally lend a horse, even if a small fee is charged, where there is no profit made and no intent to make a profit


Who can apply 

You must be aged 16 or over. 



You need to prove that you have suitable qualifications and experience of horse management, and that your horses are:

  • in good health and physically fit
  • suitable to be hired out and used for riding
  • provided with adequate food, drink and bedding
  • regularly exercised
  • safeguarded in an emergency

You must not leave anyone under 16 years old in charge of the riding establishment. Any riders under 16 must be supervised, unless you’re satisfied that they are competent to ride without supervision.



You will be required to provide the following:  

  • a plan of the premises
  • standard operating procedures 
  • an emergency response plan 
  • an infection control procedure
  • a preventative healthcare plan

You must provide a valid certificate of public liability insurance which insures you:

  • against liability for any injury sustained by, and the death of, any client, and insures any client.
  • against liability for any injury sustained by, and the death of, any other person caused by or arising out of the hire of the horse.

You need a designated key holder who has access to all animal areas of the business. They must at all times be within reasonable travel distance of the premises and available to attend in an emergency.

A listed veterinarian must inspect the licensed premises on an annual basis.



You may not get a licence if you’ve been disqualified or had a licence refused, revoked or cancelled for an animal health or welfare offence. For more information see the The Animal Licensing Regulations 2018.


Record keeping 

You must keep a register of all horses kept for the licensable activity on the premises and each horse’s valid passport showing its unique equine life number and microchip number.

You must keep records for at least three years beginning with the date on which the record was created.


Check if you need planning permission

You may need planning permission for your business.

You’ll probably need planning permission if you want to:

  • build something new
  • make a major change to your building, such as building an extension
  • change the use of your building

If your project needs planning permission and you do the work without getting it, you can be served an ‘enforcement notice’ ordering you to undo all the changes you have made.

To find out if your business premises will need planning permission.



Find out how much your licence will cost.

The licence fees are broken down into two parts:-

Part A covers the cost of deciding the licence application. This includes administration and inspection costs. 

Part B covers the cost of issuing the licence. 

A licence will not be issued until such time as all necessary fees have been paid, this means the application fee (part a), the grant fee (part b) and veterinary fees. 


How to apply for or renew a licence

You will need to meet all aspects of the The Animal Licensing Regulations 2018 and The DEFRA guidance for your licence to be granted.   

Please ensure you read the regulations and guidance before you apply.   

Download and fill in the form (DOCX, 127.7 KB)

You can use this form to apply for more than one animal activities licence type.


Pay online

You’ll need your debit or credit card details

Pay online


Send the form to us


Post to: Gloucester City Council, Community Wellbeing, PO Box 2017, Pershore, WR10 9BJ

If you send paperwork in by post we may not be able to collect it, therefore, we cannot guarantee when it will be processed. Gloucester City Council are supporting flexible working to ensure the safety of staff during this time.


What happens next 

Your application will be assessed and we may contact you for more information. 

You'll be visited by an inspector who will inspect your premises. The inspector will look at the animals and their environment and refer to the DEFRA guidance

A Star Rating  will be issued following inspection. The overall score will determine the star rating and the length of the licence. 

Your licence will be issued when all necessary fees have been paid.