Riding Schools

The sale of a Riding School requires a specialist and experienced agent. The nature of the sale can be very complex with commercial accounts, employees and existing training contracts all key factors in any disposal. We also understand the need to achieve the best price for our client whilst not damaging the existing business during the marketing period. Our approach is always sensitive to any on-going commercial activity.

Speak to the team today for further information on buying a riding school and we would be more than happy to assist you in finding exactly what you are looking for.

How to start a riding school

In order to set up your own riding school a few factors should be taken into consideration. If teaching people to learn how to ride motivates you and you possess a little business knowledge then this is an enterprise you should pursue. Being able to pass on your skills and knowledge to others is a vital skill to have. Encouraging future generations is essential to ensuring the popularity of horse sport continues to grow.

Set up of a riding school

A riding school would usually consist of a head instructor and, size dependent, a number of subsequent instructors to carry the workload. In addition to instructors, additional staff may need to be employed to care for the horses in work.

The property should ideally be located in an accessible area close to major road links in order that its trade potential can be maximised. Location must also be considered with regard to hacking and leisure riding. Some riding schools purely provide lessons for clients in an enclosed area but those that can branch out and offer off road riding are at an advantage as the market is not quite so niche.

Initial investment

Initially a large sum of money would need to be invested into a property that could be used as a riding school. However, if an existing riding school was purchased, less of an initial investment would need to be made. Horses would still need to be purchased in either situation, and these may prove to be quite an investment.

Experience is a key factor that is not to be underestimated. It cannot be bought either; knowledge must be gained within the equestrian industry over a period of years with relevant qualifications. If however your dream is to own a stud farm, but at present you do not possess the needed qualifications you could employ someone to manage the establishment for you at an additional cost.

You may not wish to, even if you possess the experience, to be head instructor as this may be too much strain on your time. Owning a business such as a riding school means you need to spend a large proportion of time working on the business this can range from ensuring you have the relevant insurance, planning permission and licences. A common pitfall is too spend too much time working within the business and not enough time working on the business. Marketing should be used to advertise the riding school in order to gain maximum exposure to potential clients.

Land and buildings

When wishing to purchase a property to be used as a riding school, available land for grazing and barns for facilities/outbuildings/storage and stables must be considered. If no outbuildings are present, planning permission must be applied for and this may take time. If a property has some outbuildings then the potential for these to be used as stables/storage should be investigated.

Acreage must be evaluated as the BHS recommends 1- 1.5 acres per horse, this can be reduced if the horses only graze for a small number of hours per day but practically this may not be possible. Most yards, if the grazing is available, would want to cut costs down by keeping their horses out at night in the summer months, so grazing land should not just be an afterthought.

Facilities such as an indoor barn that has potential to convert to an indoor school could mean the property has the edge over similar riding schools in the area. One outdoor school would be sufficient for a small enterprise but for the larger enterprise several schools would be more beneficial in order to gain the most income from the facilities.

Barns will be needed for hay and bedding storage as well as tack, equipment, rugs and feed. A large area should be available for car parking for potential clients and an indoor seating area may be required for client’s relatives to sit while they are being taught.

If building from new or renovating/using existing facilities these must be of a high standard and safe for use.


Riding schools require a licence from the council called a Riding Establishment Licence. It needs to be renewed each year and the fee and conditions are different dependent on which council you are applying to.

The licence requires you to prove that you have suitable and relevant qualifications of horse management and that the horses on the premises are:

  • In good health and physically fit
  • Suitable to be hired out and used for riding
  • Provided with adequate feed, water and bedding
  • Safeguarded in an emergency

Business Insurance must be sourced. Liability insurance would cover you for any injury that results from people riding your horses. Professional indemnity insurance should also be sourced, this covers you for any claim that a client may bring against for any work you have done.

A register of young stock under 3 years of age must be kept for horses that are kept on the premises. This register must be made available at inspection.

Creating the actual business means a legal entity needs to be created. It must be decided whether the riding school would be a sole trader or a limited company. A Business bank account should be set up, Companies house should be consulted and HMRC should also be referred to if needed.

BHS approval should also be applied for. It will entail another inspection in addition to the council assessment but is beneficial as it proves to the public that you are committed and hold professional values and standards.

Once the riding school is purchased and set up

Once the business is set up and legal, the finer details need to be addressed. Feed and bedding suppliers should be consulted as deals may be available for bulk orders.

Tack, rugs, hats and other essential equipment should be bought and stored in appropriate storage barns which are dry and watertight to ensure the items do not become damaged and unusable. Equipment such as jumps will be needed in order to teach clients how to master their jumping techniques.

Once the horses are purchased you can then begin trading providing the horses are trained and of a suitable standard. Instructors should be employed that have relevant experience and BHS qualifications. Instructors should at least possess the BHSAI certificate in order to teach clients.

Clients should be asked to sign a disclaimer before they start, just to ensure you are covered should an accident happen.

Setting up, managing and maintaining a riding school can be an extremely rewarding and enjoyable business venture. Teaching and helping someone to pursue their dreams be it happy hacker or International competitor is priceless.

If you are looking for riding schools for sale then please do not hesitate to contact one of our team today with your query. We would be delighted to help and advise you.