Sometimes a lifelong passion turns into a career, which usually tends to be the case for those deciding to teach others to ride.

Offering tuition for any sport involves rules and regulations, and horse riding is no different. Here, we offer an outline of the key points to have in mind.

Is there a legal requirement to have a licence?

Yes- if you run a riding school or hire out horses and ponies for riding, you will need a licence. Under the Riding Establishments Acts of 1964 and 1970, you must obtain a licence from your local authority, which then has to be renewed each year.

What do I need to obtain a licence?

You will need to demonstrate that you, or a manager employed by the business, are ‘suitably qualified.’ This can be by way of certification (for example those accreditations offered by the British Horse Society) or any other authorised method of assessment.

The Acts also create requirements which must be met in relation to horse welfare. This covers things such as their physical fitness, shoeing, feeding and stabling.

The local authority will also require that a vet assesses the premises and prepares a report. They will review the report and undertake their own inspections as they deem necessary.

What happens if I am refused?

You have the right to appeal to the Magistrates’ Court. It is open to the Court to grant a licence, issue a licence with conditions, or to refuse it entirely.

Can I be granted a provisional licence?

Yes- if the Local Authority takes the view that a full licence cannot be issued immediately, it has the power to grant a three month provisional licence. This may be extended by a further three months but not more.

If you have been granted a provisional licence and want to ensure that you meet with regulatory requirements, seek advice as early as you can and certainly well before the initial period is due to come to an end.

Are there other legal requirements apart from the licence?

Public Liability Insurance must also be in place. If you are employing staff, you should also arrange an Employers’ Liability Insurance policy. There are other things to attend to which are easily overlooked, such as ensuring that all of the riding hats available for loan meet necessary safety standards.

When could I be prosecuted?

The relevant legislation created a number of offences, including that of operating a riding school without a licence. You may be fined up to £1,000, imprisoned for up to three months, or both. Your licence will also be revoked and you will be disqualified (for a period set by the Court.)

Prosecutions can also arise if you give false or misleading information to the Local Authority in connection with your application. It is also possible to commit other offences, such as those relating to animal welfare.

If you are in doubt, seek advice immediately- people have been prosecuted for offences relating to riding schools, irreparably affecting their livelihoods. We offer advice and representation in all aspects of licensing law, including that relating to riding schools, such as refusals and revocations. Don’t close the stable door after the horse has bolted- for prompt, confidential advice, please call Amber Walker on 0113 284 5042.