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Hiring out horses

The new Animal Welfare (Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018

New regulations came into force on 1 October 2018, meaning that any renewals under the old legislation or any new premises after 1 October 2018 will need to comply with the new regulations and associated Government guidance.

The Government set out new conditions which are applicable across England, meaning that the local authority can no longer prescribe their own conditions. We therefore, cannot change any of the conditions either, and all premises will be inspected under the new regime from 1 October 2018.

Those businesses operating under current licenses will be able to continue to do so until the expiry date of their licence. All applications to renew licenses will be under the new legislation. Unfortunately, there are no ‘grandfathers rights’ and so existing businesses may need to make changes.

Application process

All new premises will need to submit an application form. All currently licensed premises will be sent a letter when their renewal is due.

The inspection process

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

  • 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.

Regardless of the length of the licence, Horse riding inspections will be undertaken every year by a Local Authority Officer and a Vet (The cost of the vet fees will be charged back to the applicant after inspection).

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.

How do I improve my rating?

See the Legislation and guidance from Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Canine and Feline Sector Group for information relevant to your particular animal activity. This document will be used by inspectors to aid the inspection process. There are some ‘optional’ and ‘required’ conditions which may help you to achieve a higher star rating.

If you have any concerns, please contact our Environmental Protection Team prior to making a purchase or making booking arrangements.

Businesses with more than one activity

If you undertake more than one activity such as animal boarding businesses (including home boarders and day carers), dog breeders, selling animals as pets, hiring out horses (e.g. horse riding) or keeping or training animals for exhibition (e.g. bird, animal displays etc.) you will need to apply for each activity, and pay a fee for each additional activity you undertake. For example, if you hire out horses, and breed dogs, you will have to pay the fee for hiring out horses, and an additional activity fee for breeding dogs.

Who can apply?

Any fit and proper person who is not disqualified from keeping animals may apply.

Is planning permission required?

We recommend that you discuss your proposals with Planning Services to determine whether a planning application is needed.

How long will it take for my application to be assessed?

Once your application has been received, an officer will contact you as soon as possible, and within 28 days. The amount of time taken to determine the application will range depending on a number of factors, such as availability of a veterinary surgeon for the initial inspection and the amount of work required to comply with the licence conditions.

Will tacit consent apply?

No. An animal activity (described in the Regulations) cannot be run without the appropriate licence.

How much does a licence cost?

Premises which are issued with 2 or 3 year licenses will save money, as they will not have to apply for the licence every year. Therefore it is important to read the guidance to achieve a high star rating.

How long does a licence last?

This could be 1, 2 or 3 years and depends on your risk rating and star rating, which will be advised after the inspection and paperwork has been completed by the inspecting officer.  

What can I do if my licence application is refused?

You will have 28 days following the notice of refusal to appeal to the First Tier Tribunal.

What can I do if I’m unhappy with my star rating?

If you are not satisfied with the decision, you can make improvements to address highlighted issues, and ask for a re-inspection (fees apply). Or, if you wish to appeal the star rating given by the inspecting officer, the appeal should be made in writing to our office. You are encouraged to speak with the inspecting officer first so that the reasons behind the awarded star rating can be explained to you. Businesses have 21 days (including weekends and bank holidays) following the issue with the licence to appeal the star rating.

Public register of horse hire establishments

East Suffolk register of horse hire establishments