ABRS+ held an online meeting with Riding Establishment proprietors on Friday 22 Apr 22. The meeting, one of a series that will be held in the coming months, commenced a review of the Council Licensing Regulations in England and sought proprietor views on what works and fails to work in the current licensing regime. The aim is to create a consolidated view of the strengths and weaknesses of the Regulations. ABRS+ will then engage positively with our colleagues in BE, BHS, Pony Club and RDA to develop an industry-wide position for when the Animal Welfare legislation is reviewed in 2023. ABRS+ has already met with both BE and BHS to discuss how we might work together to develop and present this industry-wide position.
The meeting on Friday had time only to look at the introduction to the Regulations, but the following represents the comments received from those that participated:
- Inspectors and Inspections. While there are Council Licensing inspectors that are well-qualified and experienced in equine welfare, most riding establishments attending the meeting had encountered Inspectors that either had no relevant qualifications or inadequate experience. Often the Inspectors had an Environmental Health background or, although having a L3 qualification in Animal Welfare, had no equine knowledge. The result is that the inspections tended to be a ‘tick box’ exercise rather than a genuine assessment of the fitness of a riding establishment to hold a License. The meeting concluded that Inspectors should have both equine qualifications and experience, and should be trained in the applications of the regulations to ensure consistent interpretation.
- Use of Loan Agreements to Circumvent Licensing. There is anecdotal evidence of some riding establishments using loan agreements to circumvent the requirement for licensing. There needs to be better guidance on when and how loan agreements can be used when riding instruction is also being provided – in essence, if the riding establishment looks like a riding school, it should be licensed.
- Cost of Licensing. The charges applied to licensing, and changes to the license, vary widely nationally and, in some cases, appear to be disproportionate to the licensing activity being undertaken by Councils. ABRS+ needs to undertake a review of licensing charges to determine what is being charged and for what activities, and to see how this varies nationally.
- ‘Star Rating’. The use of the term ‘Star Rating’ is misleading when applied to a Riding Establishment. Most clients would assume that this rating would describe the overall service being provided by the establishment – including quality of coaching and client care – when the rating applies only to the welfare of horses.
The meeting was recorded and can be viewed at
The next meeting will be published on FB and the ABRS+ website.