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Hiring out horses

A hiring out horses licence is required for businesses that use horses for the following activities:

  • riding schools
  • loan horses
  • hunter hirelings
  • pony and donkey rides
  • polo instruction
  • pony parties where the ponies are ridden

Other activities involving horses may fall within the 'keeping or training animals for exhibition licence'. It is recommended that you check this guidance as well.

There are specific conditions which need to be followed. This also includes details of what records you need to keep.


We will need the following details about the horse or horses:

  • name
  • height
  • colour
  • sex
  • age
  • passport number
  • microchip number
  • purpose for which horse is kept
  • age range of people who ride this horse
  • maximum rider weight

Operating facilities

  • Accommodation

    • number of stalls and/or boxes
    • open an/or covered yard (dimensions)
  • Land

    • grazing
    • instructing or demonstrating
    • exercise
  • Utilities

    • heating arrangements
    • ventilation of premises
    • lighting arrangements
    • water supply
  • Facilities

    • exercise arrangements
    • enrichment activities, toys etc.
    • food storage and preparation
    • how you hope to keep noise levels down
    • separation/grouping
    • transport
    • your standard procedures for cleaning and maintaining hygiene
    • copies of staff training and qualifications (including yourself)

We will also need the following:

  • a full copy of your operational emergency response plan - a written emergency plan in case of fire or in case of breakdowns for essential heating, ventilation and aeration or filtration systems or other emergencies. This should include details of where the animals would be accommodated if the premises were to become uninhabitable.
  • disease control and prevention plan
  • preventive healthcare plan - a preventative healthcare plan agreed with the veterinarian with whom the licence holder has registered
  • death or escape of an animal procedure - including the storage of dead animals
  • public liability insurance (that covers £5 million minimum)

Considerations before you apply

  • running a business from a premises may require planning permission
  • if you live in rented accommodation, check the terms of your tenancy agreement and obtain consent from the landlord before you apply, most rental properties do not allow businesses to be operated from the premises
  • check that the animal accommodation will be compliant with the size and materials in the DEFRA guidance


What happens next

Once we receive your application we will contact you within three working days to advise you whether we have everything we need to progress your application. At this point, we will either ask you to provide additional information or we will arrange a date with you to conduct your inspection.

Making changes and renewals

If you need to change your licence you can find out more on our variations to animal licences webpage.


You need to renew a minimum of 10 weeks before the expiry date. A copy of the current public liability insurance certificate and any procedures which have been updated should be attached to the renewal application. If you have missed the renewal date and your licence has expired, you will be required to pay the new application fee instead of the renewal fee.


Licence fees

Number of horsesApplicationRenewal
Up to 10 £785 £620
11 or more £845 £650

Procedures and records

Hiring out horses



Part A

  • 5.5 - Procedures must be in place to make sure housing and any equipment within it is cleaned as often as necessary and good hygiene standards are maintained. Stables must be kept in a clean condition, there must be a documented procedure for this. It must detail the routine daily cleaning regime and the procedure for cleaning between periods of occupation. Where there is a pest problem, a pest control programme must be put into place.
  • 6.1 - The animals must be provided with a suitable diet, in terms of quality, quantity and frequency that reflects their needs. Any new feeds must be introduced gradually to allow the animals to adjust to them. There must be a plan or record of the quantity, frequency and type of food each horse is given.
  • 7.5 - All immature animals must be given suitable and adequate opportunities to:
    • learn how to interact with people, their own species and other animals where such interaction benefits their welfare
    • become habituated to noises, objects and activities in their environment

    Processes must be in place to meet the needs of new and young horses. This must include:

    • appropriate training
    • slow introduction to different noises and sights that will be part of their daily routine or workload
  • 8.2 - The animals must be kept separately or in suitable compatible social groups appropriate to the species and individual animals. No animals from a social species may be isolated or separated from others of their species for any longer than is necessary.
    A policy must be in place for monitoring the introduction of new horses to existing groups. This will help avoid stress to either new or resident animals.

  • 9.4 - All reasonable precautions must be taken to prevent and control the spread among animals and people of infectious disease, pathogens and parasites. Procedures must be in place to prevent the introduction of infectious disease and spread from any infected animals. All staff must understand the procedures.

    A preventative plan must be in place and include information about:

    • effective grassland management
    • use of current anthelmintics (treatment of parasitic worms) alongside faecal egg counts where needed
  • 9.7 - Where necessary, animals must receive preventative treatment by an appropriately competent person. Routine and documented treatment must be in place for internal and external parasites.

    A vaccination plan must consider:
    • biosecurity
    • horse travel movements
  • 10.1 - A written emergency plan, acceptable to the local authority, must be in place, known and available to all the people on the premises used for the licensable activity, and followed where necessary to ensure appropriate steps are taken to protect all the people and animals on the premises in case of fire or in case of breakdowns for essential heating, ventilation and aeration or filtration systems or other emergencies.

    There must be a preventative fire risk assessment that includes a location map showing access and exits for people and horses. Entrances and fire exits must be clear of obstructions at all times.

    Suitable firefighting, prevention and detection equipment must be provided and maintained in good working order. Buildings that are subject to building regulations need at least one working suitable fire detection system installed. It must be in a suitable location on each separate level or floor of the property. This includes any buildings where horses are kept in stables or stalls. There must be awareness about the risk of entrapment of horses and the procedures to release them.

    Emergency drills must be practiced regularly. These practices must be recorded with any failings noted and addressed in the procedures. Drills must be carried out at least annually, or as determined by fire risk assessments. All new members of staff must have this fire awareness as part of their induction programme.

    There must be a plan for housing for the horses if the premises become uninhabitable - even if field-only provision is available. There must also be contingency planning for extreme weather.
  • 10.2 - The plan must include details of the emergency measures to be taken for the extrication of the animals should the premises become uninhabitable and an emergency telephone list that includes the fire service and police. Your emergency plan should be one to two sides of A4 and cover all the requirements stated above

Part B

  • 6.1 - The horses must be maintained in good health and must be in all respects physically fit. All horses must have a structured management and care programme set out on an annual calendar or diary. It must include information about:
    • foot care
    • worming
    • veterinary care
  • 6.2 - There must be a preventative healthcare plan in place agreed with the appointed vet or appointed veterinary practitioner. The health plan must show:
    • the measures taken to prevent and control disease
    • any medication or treatments for each horse



Details of what to record

4.2 and 4.3

The licence holder must keep a record of their staff’s training.

  • records of the courses they are taking
  • records of written or online learning
  • keeping up to date with any research or developments for specific breeds
  • annual appraisal documents

Evidence of staff attendance or completion of the training must be provided.


Housing must be regularly inspected for damage and potential injury or escape points. Inspection results must be recorded. Damaged housing must be repaired or replaced immediately.


There must be a plan or record of the quantity, frequency and type of food each horse is given.


Feed and (where appropriate) water intake must be monitored, and any problems recorded and addressed.

The body condition of every horse must be monitored on a regular basis.


If there is evidence of external parasites, such as fleas, ticks, lice or mites, treat the horse according to best practice. Use a product authorised by the Veterinary Medicines Directorate where necessary. Records of treatment must be kept.


Routine and documented treatment must be in place for internal and external parasites.


A record of all animals that have been euthanised must be kept for 36 months. It must include:

  • the name of the person who euthanised the animal
  • how the carcass was disposed of


Any signs of pain, suffering, injury, disease or abnormal behaviour must be recorded and the advice and further advice (if necessary) of a vet must be sought and followed.


A daily record of the workload of each horse must be maintained and available for inspection at any reasonable time.

The record will set out hours of work that each horse has carried out and must be maintained over the course of that year.


There will be records to show that each horse workload or regime is balanced to meet the needs of each horse. They will show the maximum weight of a rider for each horse.


If shod, their shoes must be properly fitted by a registered farrier. The frequency of trimming and shoeing for each horse must be recorded and available for inspection.


The licence holder 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 (if any).


Hats must be stored, clean and fit for purpose with clearly documented records of regular safety checks.

Rider registration forms must be completed and kept up to date.

They must include:

  • emergency contact details
  • client health conditions


The licence holder must register with a vet with an appropriate level of experience in the health and welfare requirements of any animals specified in the licence and the contact details of that person must be readily available to all staff on the premises used for the licensable activity.

The vet’s details must be displayed where they can be easily seen by all staff members.

This must include:

  • name
  • address
  • telephone number
  • out of hours telephone number


There must be a preventative healthcare plan in place agreed with the appointed vet or appointed veterinary practitioner.

The health plan must show:

  • the measures taken to prevent and control disease
  • any medication or treatments for each horse