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Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Owning a horse

Looking after a horse involves committing time and money. Find out where you can get advice about owning a horse. Also, find out where you can keep your horse and what the law says you need to do, like getting a horse passport.

Looking after a horse or pony – what is involved

If you are thinking about buying a horse or pony, you’ll be responsible for looking after the animal, from feeding through to exercise. To find out what the law says about your responsibilities as an animal owner, see ‘Animal welfare and advice’.

Get advice

If you have no previous experience, you should get advice about what owning a horse involves. Organisations like the British Horse Society and the National Equine Welfare Council (NEWC) produce detailed guides to looking after horses.

Visit local horse stables

Another way to get an idea of what is involved in looking after a horse is to visit some stables. Search online or look in the phone book for details of local stables and arrange a visit. Ask if you can speak to horse owners for their advice about keeping horses. This will help you decide whether you have the time and resources to own a horse or pony.

Keeping your horse at approved riding schools and livery yards

You may choose to keep your horse at a riding school or ‘livery yard’ (horse stables that charge a fee for looking after your animal). They may provide:

  • riding and stabling facilities 
  • a training area for your horse
  • fields for grazing

Check your riding school is licensed by your local council

It’s important to check that the riding school and livery yard is a suitable place to keep your horse. By law, all riding schools should be licensed by the local council. Livery yards don’t have to be licensed.

A local council will only give a licence if the riding school meets certain standards like:

  • it is run by someone who is qualified or has the necessary experience runs it
  • horses will be kept healthy and in accommodation which isn’t overcrowded
  • horses will be supplied with enough food and water

Standards for approved riding schools and livery yards

Some riding schools or livery yards get additional approval from organisations like the British Horse Society (BHS) or the Association of British Riding Schools (ABRS). An approved school or livery yard will include in its standards:

  • implementing all relevant health and safety regulations
  • taking out insurance to cover any member of the public who gets injured on their premises 
  • taking proper care of horses and ponies

Follow the links below to find contact details of approved riding schools and livery yards.

Horse passports and importing horses

All horses, ponies and donkeys in England and Wales need to have a passport identifying the animal. Find out why horse passports are important and what they contain in ‘Horse passports – why you need them and what they contain’.

If you are importing or exporting a horse, find out more information in ‘Importing and exporting a horse – when you need a horse passport’.

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