Licence for hiring out horses

A "horse" is defined as any mare, gelding, pony, foal, colt, filly or stallion and also any ass, mule or jennet (including donkey). You need a licence if you provide as part of your business:

  • Hiring 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.

Activities that do not need a licence

  • Businesses that run pony parties where none of the ponies are ever ridden - these should be licensed as animal exhibits.
  • Activities that are carried out 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.

Licence conditions

You must be able to meet the general and specific conditions before we will issue you with a licence.

Defra guidance document

You should read the procedural and applicable activity guidance documents which we will refer to during the application process. They detail the higher standards you will need to meet to get a higher star rating and longer lasting licence. 

Make an application