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Peace of mind when hiring a horse.

Updated: Jan 24



Did you know that you must have a licence to hire out any animal including horses?

As part of the Animal Welfare Act (2006) the new animal activity license was brought in October 2018; as a result any animal must be licensed by your local council to be ‘commercially able to work and for the owner to receive a fee for that work’.

This does include paying to share a horse from a private owner if the owner is making a profit or has entered into a business arrangement.

The animal activity licence offers protection to the horse and peace of mind to the sharer. The inspectors (a vet and a council officer) check the health of the animal and it’s suitability for the job as well as the yard and the suitability of the keeper. The owner will need to produce documented records for all aspects of the horses care as well as have proof of adequate procedures in place and have suitable insurance.


We are inspected annually, for this inspection we have to demonstrate how many hours are the animals working, whether they have sufficient breaks, rest days and a variety of work. They inspectors check that the horse is fit for the job, not too old or too young, they check whether it is vaccinated, wormed etc.

Each horse has a care plan and records of all dental care, hoof care and veterinary treatment. They look at the living conditions, are they suitable, the yard and fields are checked and are the horses protected in case of an emergency (such as a fire).



It doesn’t stop there! The inspectors check to see if the tack (saddles and bridles) fit and is in a safe condition, this also gives them a chance to see what bits we are using and how well we take care of our tack, again all this is documented.


We also have records for our hats and other equipment used on or around the horses. The council can carry out additional inspections at any time.

The inspectors want to know that our staff are suitably trained (or supervised ) to care for all animals we have, they want to see that they can handle the animals safely and will ask what experience they have to ensure that they can they deal with any potential issues should they arise. They will observed how well trained are the animals, whether are they safe for the job.


Everything is supported by paperwork! We have to produce a health and safety policy, a staff handbook and detailed risk assessment (ours is 50 pages long!). We need to have public liability cover, as well as employer’s liability. This does not come cheaply; we pay for the license, the vets fees and insurance.


These annual inspection will give you peace of mind. You know the horse is well looked after at all times, the horse is healthy and worked appropriately, the horse is suitable and you have people who can help you. The equipment is safety checked and fits and the horse is insured should it go wrong!

Hiring out a horse (or any other animal) without a licence is illegal, even charging a mate’ to ride a horse on a regular basis is hiring them out if the owner is deemed to be making a profit from the hire. Owners can share or loan out their horses without charge however anyone hiring out their horse would need a licence for example if sharing for financial reward.

Failure to hold a valid licence or breaching terms of the licence can result in heavy fines or imprisonment.

Keeping (and hiring out) horses is expensive, as with all things in life, something really cheap is often too good to be true.

Further information can be find out at:

The Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018 Guidance notes for conditions for hiring out horses


About the author:

Fiona Tothill, BA Educational Studies, UKCC level 2 coach (equestrian). Equine Assisted Facilitator.


Fiona is an experienced speaker and trainer who is able to engage her audience and empowers them to explore challenging issues. Fiona is the co-owner vision behind Kingsmead Equestrian Centre in Surrey.

Fiona is available for public speaking engagements, workshops and events.

To enquire please contact by email



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