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Riding establishment licence

You need this licence if you wish to run a riding establishment where horses or ponies are hired out for riding, or used for riding instruction.

To be eligible for this licence you must be over 18 and considered suitable and qualified to hold this licence. You must not have been disqualified under specified animal welfare laws.

How to apply

Complete and return a Riding Establishment Application Form (Word, 57kb).


All fees can be found on our licence fees webpage.

As well as the Licence fee, you will also have to pay all additional vet costs. These depend on the type of animal(s) to be examined. The examination(s) will not be instructed until the estimated fee is paid in advance.

If an application is refused, or granted for less than applied for, the fee is not refunded or reduced. Cheques should be made payable to North Ayrshire Council.

What happens next?

We may arrange to carry out an inspection on your proposed premises to make sure they meet required standards. A veterinary surgeon or practitioner will produce a report on: the suitability and conditions of your premises, and any horses you keep. We consider this report before we decide on your application.

Applications are advertised on this website to allow members of the public to make objections or representations.

It may take 6 weeks to process your application. If you haven't heard from the Licensing Office within a reasonable period please contact us.

How long does the licence last?

If granted, this licence lasts 1 year from the date of issue and can be renewed.

Does this licence have any conditions?

The licence will have the council's Standard Conditions. In some cases the council may apply special conditions appropriate to your particular circumstances.

Any conditions which apply to you will be set out in the licence document you will be given. If these are broken, then the licence holder can be charged by Police Scotland.

In order to grant this licence we must be satisfied that:

  • the horses are in good condition and they will be maintained in good health, kept physically fit and where the horses are to be ridden or used during riding instruction, that they are suitable that purpose
  • the animals feet will be trimmed properly and that shoes are fitted properly and are in good condition
  • there is suitable accommodation for the horses
  • for horses maintained on grass, suitable pasture, shelter and water and 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, fire instructions and the name, address and telephone number of the licence holder are displayed outside the premises
  • storage facilities for forage, bedding, stable equipment and saddlery are provided

The licence is also 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
  • no horse will 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 won't be left in the charge of someone under 16 years of age
  • the licence holder has indemnity insurance
  • the licence holder keeps a register of all horses in their possession that are 3 years old or younger and that the register is available for inspection at all reasonable times

Please note: We follow National Fraud Initiative guidelines to protect against fraud.

Contact Licensing




01294 310000


Licensing Section, Legal Services, North Ayrshire Council, Cunninghame House, Irvine, KA12 8EE