Riding establishments licence

To run a riding establishment (where horses or ponies are hired out for riding or used for riding instruction) in England, Scotland or Wales, you need a licence from the local authority.

Applicants must be over 18 years of age.


You need to prove that you have suitable qualifications and experience of horse management, and that your horses are:

  • in good health and physically fit
  • suitable to be hired out and used for riding
  • provided with adequate food, drink and bedding
  • regularly exercised
  • safeguarded in an emergency

You also need liability insurance that covers you for any injuries that result from people riding your horses.

You must keep a register of horses aged 3 years or under that are usually kept on your premises, and make it available for inspection.


You won’t be able to get a licence if you’ve been banned from:

  • running a riding establishment
  • running a pet shop
  • keeping animals, including in a boarding kennel or cattery

You may not get a licence if you’ve committed an animal health or welfare offence.

You must not leave anyone under 16 years old in charge of the riding establishment. Any riders under 16 must be supervised, unless you’re satisfied that they are competent to ride without supervision.


We may inspect your premises and horses before giving you a licence, and any time after your licence is granted. If the inspector finds that any of your horses need veterinary attention, you must provide a certificate to show they are fit again before returning them to work.

Application fee

An application for a Riding Establishments Licence costs £286.49 plus a veterinarian fee. When renewing your licence the cost is £207.04 plus a veterinarian fee. 

How to apply

There are conditions that may be attached to the licence. Before you submit your application please contact your local Animal Health and Welfare Officer to discuss your requirements. 

View Environmental Health privacy notices.

To apply for a new licence or renewal of existing licence please complete the licence to operate a riding establishment application form (PDF 149KB).

Submit completed applications to Public Health team.

Application process

Once the application form together with all supporting documentation has been submitted, you should have a response from us within one month, being the target completion period.

If you have not heard from us within the target completion period then please contact us.

Tacit consent

Tacit consent won't apply for riding establishments licence. This means that you cannot assume that the application has been approved if you do not hear from us by the end of the target timescale. It is in the interest of the health of the animals that the local authority must process your application before it can be granted. If you have not heard from us within one month, then please make contact.

Application and licence holder redress

Any applicant who is refused a licence or a licence holder who wishes to appeal against a condition attached to the licence can appeal to their local Sheriff.

Please contact us in the first instance.

Consumer complaint

We would always advise that in the event of a complaint the first contact is made with the trader by you - preferably in the form of a letter (with proof of delivery). If that has not worked, if you are located in the UK, Consumer Direct will give you advice. From outside the UK contact the UK European Consumer Centre.

Public register

We are required by law to publish a register of all animal health and welfare licence applications received by the council.

Contact details

Environmental Health
Aberdeenshire Council
Gordon House
Blackhall Road
AB51 3WA
Telephone: 01346 415888