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Home > Business > Licensing > Hiring out of horses

Hiring out of horses

A licence is required before anyone can let a horse, pony or donkey out for hire (including pony parties and riding instruction).

This is designed to ensure the welfare of the animals and the suitability of their accommodation.

A licence may only be issued (or denied) by the Local Authority following an inspection and report by a veterinary surgeon who is a member of the RCVS/BVA Inspectorate.

The vet will be chosen and appointed by the local authority. The cost of the vet's inspection will be met by the applicant.

The Animal Welfare (Licencing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018

Changes are being made to improve the effectiveness of existing regulations and to simplify the application and inspection process for businesses as well as maintaining and improving existing animal welfare standards.  The Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018.  

The new regulations came into effect on 1 October 2018.

Licence Conditions and guidance notes

Licence Conditions and guidance notes produced by DEFRA.

How long does a licence last?

Under the new legislation licences can be issued for up to three years depending on the risk rating that is given to the business at the time of inspection and compliance with both the general conditions and the higher standards.

Details on how the risk ratings are determined are available in the Procedural Guidance Notes for Local Authorities on the Regulations.

Is planning permission required?

Applicants must ensure they have the relevant planning permission.

We recommend that you discuss your proposal with Planning Services.

How much does a licence cost?

Fees will be payable for applications.

Inspections and Star Ratings

All premises will be inspected before the licence is granted. The inspector will be looking to make sure the applicant has the following:

  • A 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 new laws relating to the physical environment in which the animals will be kept.

Based on the information, we will assess the risk rating and award stars. Low-risk premises 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). 

Premises with lower star ratings

A premises with a lower star rating is not necessarily a premises to avoid as there are other factors that have to be considered, such as the length of time the licence holder has been operating. New businesses will be assessed as slightly higher risk simply because there is no history of good practice that can be considered.

Information on how the length of a licence and the star rating are arrived at can be found in the Procedural Guidance Notes.

How do I improve my rating?

DEFRA have produced some guidance documents which will be used by inspectors to aid the inspection process, and there are some ‘optional’ and ‘required’ conditions which may help you to achieve a higher star rating.

If customers have any concerns, please contact the Food and Safety Team prior to making a purchase or making booking arrangements.

How to apply

Please download an application form

What can I do if my licence application is refused?

Appeals against a decision not to issue a licence or against any conditions imposed must be made through the Magistrates Court.

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