Riding Establishment Licence

A licence is required under the Riding Establishments Acts 1964 and 1970 for premises that are used for the provision of a business of keeping horses to let them out on hire for riding or for use in providing instruction in riding for payment or both.

It is an offence to operate a horse riding establishment without a valid licence or in non-compliance with conditions attached to any licence issued.

To run a riding establishment in the East Cambridgeshire district where horses, ponies and donkeys are hired out for riding or used for riding instruction, you require a licence from East Cambridgeshire District Council.

Applicants must be over 18 years of age and must not been disqualified from:

  • keeping a riding establishment;
  • keeping a pet shop under the Pet Animals Act 1951;
  • having custody of animals under the Protection of Animals (Amendment) Act 1954;
  • keeping boarding establishments for animals under the Animal Boarding Establishments Act 1963;
  • keeping or owning animals, being able to influence how animals are kept, dealing animals or transporting or being involved in the transporting of animals, under the Animal Welfare Act 2006;
  • owning, keeping dealing or transporting animals under the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006.

We will also take into account whether the applicant is suitable and qualified to hold a licence, and must also be satisfied that:

  • consideration will be given to the condition of the horses and that they will be maintained in good health, kept physically fit and where the horse is to be ridden or used during riding instruction, be suitable for that purpose;
  • the animals feet will be trimmed properly and that shoes are fitted properly and are in good condition;
  • there will be suitable accommodation for the horses;
  • for horses maintained on grass there is suitable pasture, shelter and water and that supplementary feed will be provided as and when needed;
  • horses will be provided with suitable food, drink and bedding materials and will be exercised, groomed, rested and visited at suitable intervals;
  • precautions will be taken to reduce the spread of contagious or infectious diseases and that veterinary first aid equipment and medicines will be provided and maintained;
  • appropriate procedures are in place to protect and remove the horses in the case of a fire and that as part of this the name, address and telephone number of the licence holder is displayed outside the premises and fire instructions are displayed;
  • storage facilities for forage, bedding, stable equipment and saddlery are provided.

In addition to any other conditions a riding establishment licence must be subject to the following conditions:

  • any horse inspected by an authorised officer and found to need veterinary attention will not be returned to work until the licence holder has obtained a veterinary certificate confirming the horse is fit for work;
  • a horse will not be let out for hire or for use in instruction without the supervision of a responsible person aged 16 years or older, unless the licence holder is satisfied the rider doesn't require supervision;
  • the business will not be left in the charge of someone under 16 years of age;
  • the licence holder holds indemnity insurance;
  • the licence holder keeps a register of all horses in their possession that are three years old or younger and that the register is available for inspection at all reasonable times.

Application Forms

Applicants must pay any required fee and comply with any conditions attached to a licence.

Before deciding an application East Cambridgeshire District Council must consider a report from a veterinary surgeon or practitioner detailing whether the premises are suitable for a riding establishment and detailing the conditions of the premises and any horses.

You must submit a completed application form, the relevant fee and completed veterinary inspectors report form, for your application to be considered. You must ensure that the veterinary inspector you use to carry out the visit is listed on the RCVS approved list.


Before completing your application, your attention is drawn to our privacy and data retention policy.


New riding establishment licence£299.00 + VET fees paid separately
Renewal fee£299.00


Completed application forms and the relevant fee must be submitted to the Council before the expiry of the current licence. The Council will send a renewal reminder in September. Licence holders are advised to submit their application in plenty of time to enable the necessary inspection to be conducted and the new licence to be issued before the expiry date. The Council has three months to inspect and issue a new licence once it receives an application. 

Animal Licensing Policy

On the 14th November 2016 the Council's Licensing Committee approved an updated Animal Welfare Licensing Policy to assist all parties involved in this important area of regulation. Applicants and existing licence holders should refer to this document as it provides a great deal of useful information including the standards expected of a modern animal welfare establishment. 

Animal Licensing Policy - 2016

Further Information

It is in the public interest that East Cambridgeshire District Council must process your application before it can be authorised. If you have not received a response to your application within a reasonable period, please contact us. You can do this online if you applied through the UK Welcomes service or use the contact details below.

Licensing Department, East Cambridgeshire District Council, The Grange, Nutholt Lane, Ely, Cambs, CB7 4EE
Tel: 01353 665555

If your application for a riding establishment licence is refused you can appeal to the local Magistrates' Court.

If your application is granted, but you wish to appeal against a condition that has been imposed on the licence you can also appeal to a local Magistrates' Court.

If you are an applicant or a third party, you should always contact us in the first instance if you have any queries, concerns or cause for complaint preferably in the form of a letter with proof of delivery.  If you are not satisfied with the outcome and are located in the UK, Citizens Advice Consumer Centre will give you advice.  If you are from outside the UK, please contact the UK European Consumer Centre.

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