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Riding Establishments

RCVS Riding Establishment Inspections

Under the Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018 for England and Riding Establishments Acts 1964 and 1970 for Scotland and Wales, riding establishments are required by law to be licensed by local authorities.

The licence may only be issued or denied by the local authority following an inspection and report by a veterinary surgeon who is a member of the RCVS Inspectorate.

Environmental Health departments of local authorities have responsibility for enforcing health and safety legislation in the majority of riding establishments. They investigate reportable accidents and undertake health and safety inspections which they may carry out during licensing visits. The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health Officers (CIEH) have published comprehensive guidance on relevant legislation, suggested control measures etc intended for use by enforcement officers, proprietors and other interested parties, available free to download from the CIEH site.  


Riding Establishment Inspectors and working donkeys

There could be as many as 1,000 working donkeys in the UK, mostly found around our coastline. Recently, however, more ventures using donkeys for riding other than beach are appearing, such as fairs and children’s parties. Any vet registered as an inspector may be called upon by the local authority to complete the annual inspection of licensed riding establishments in their locality.

Ridden-donkey operations should be inspected with the same care and attention given to horse riding stables and are licensed under the same Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018 or Riding Establishments Acts of 1964 and 1970.

Donkeys are different from horses, and beach donkey riding is a seasonal business. These and other factors need to be taken into account when planning and performing the inspection.

More information can be found on working donkeys on the Donkey Sanctuary website.

Useful documents

The list of approved riding establishment inspectors is available to download below.

Licensing authorities and their inspectors should use the forms of application and inspection report below.

An updated Riding Establishment Veterinary Inspector's Form (England) has been uploaded. The updates have been made in line with the Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018 and the associated DEFRA guidance. The form can be used for both full and interim inspections while we await further clarification from DEFRA as to the remit of the interim inspections. A scoring system is being considered by the Subcommittee as a guidance tool for the inspector form, but is not yet in place. The scoring column has therefore been removed from the form for the time being. Please note that the report form is intended to be used primarily as a guidance tool to aid the professional judgement and expertise of inspectors in deciding whether a riding establishment should be recommended for licensing.The Subcommittee are also in the process of updating our Riding Establishment Guidelines (England) to compliment the inspector’s form. These are to be uploaded once they have been finalised. As there may be further updates to the form in the near future, we welcome any feedback from the inspectorate. If you do have any feedback or questions, please contact Stephanie in our Standards and Advice team –


Course Information

The riding establishment course runs annually for both veterinary surgeons looking to become a Riding Establishment Inspector and for existing Riding Establishment Inspectors that need to complete their 5 year refresher training.

The course is one full day with a choice of 2 locations. The dates and location will be published in the spring but are generally held in June or July, with one course being held in the South and one in either Central or Northern England.

We are sorry to advise that the 2020 annual training courses for both London and York have been cancelled in light of the coronavirus pandemic. In these unprecedented times, it is necessary to prioritise the health and safety of our inspectors.

The situation will be reviewed in June as to how and when the training should be delivered. Please note our Registration team is still accepting new applicants.

If you would like to discuss the course requirements further please email

Contact information

Query type

Contact name

Contact details

Member of the public, course information, existing inspector or local authority

Stephanie Bruce-Smith

T  020 7202 0754

New applicants requiring further information and booking places on the course

Emma Rocha

 020 7202 0780


Postal correspondence

The postal address and fax number for all correspondence is:

Registration Department
Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons
Belgravia House
62-64 Horseferry Road

F 020 7222 2004