Regulations made under the Animal Welfare Act consolidated and updated animal welfare requirements. The licensing requirement under the Regulations replaced the requirement to obtain a licence under the Riding Establishments Act 1964, although any unexpired licences granted under earlier Riding Establishments Acts continue in force until they expire. Under the Regulations, a licence is required for any business which keeps horses:
- to hire out for riding, and/or
- for use in providing instruction in riding for payment
The licence is issued by the local authority which will only grant it if you comply with certain minimum standards. A vet will visit your premises to make sure that the horses are properly housed, fed and looked after. The licence must be renewed annually. You will have to show that you are suitably qualified and have experience of horse management. Your horses must be:
- in good health and physically fit
- suitable for hiring out for riding
- given adequate food, drink and bedding
- exercised regularly
- safeguarded in an emergency
You'll have to have insurance covering you for any injuries which occur when people are riding your horses and you must keep a register of all horses kept on your premises which are under three years old. The register must be available for inspection.
You won't be able to get a licence if you have been banned from running a riding establishment and you'll need to check with your local authority whether they will grant you one if you have been convicted of an animal welfare offence.
Adventure Activities Licensing Regulations
If you offer pony trekking to young people under the age of 18 who are not accompanied by their parent or legally appointed guardian then your centre will need to be licensed. Contact the Adventure Activities Licensing Service (AALS) for details.
Safeguarding vulnerable groups
Employers should make sure that volunteers and employees are suitable to work with children and vulnerable adults. The British Horse Society (BHS) processes disclosure checks with the Disclosure and Barring Service, Disclosure Scotland and Access NI to help identify people who may be unsuitable.
Visit the BHS website for more information and for details of the BHS Safeguarding and Protecting Children Course.
You can read about safeguarding children, young adults and vulnerable people on the British Equestrian Federation (BEF) website and download the Safeguarding Equestrian Sport documentation.
You should also be aware that businesses which keep records of individuals' personal details may need to register as data users with the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO). From May 2018 the General Data Protection Regulation has introduced additional protection for personal data.