Illegal Barnetby riding school put children ‘at risk’

An investigation has been launched into an illegal operation of a riding school in Barnetby after a raid by North Lincolnshire Council’s licensing team.

All premises that provide horses for hire or riding instruction for money must hold a riding establishment licence. In this case, the riding school did not have a licence.

The council raided the premises on July 31, accompanied by the police, an equine vet, the RSPCA, an officer from the World Horse Welfare Organisation.

During the raid, paramount consideration was given to the welfare of the children visiting the premises and to the condition of the horses.

There was clear evidence that children as young as eight years old were paying the owner for riding lessons, along with cleaning out the stables, grooming and feeding the horses - at times without adult supervision.

When the children arrived at the premises for their lessons, parents were spoken to and they were diverted away by the police to prevent distress to the children and safeguard their welfare.

On further inspection by a qualified vet, a number of horses were found to be unsuitable to be let out for hire - a serious concern.

An improvement notice has been served on the owner and further visits have been scheduled. Enforcement action is ongoing.

The council’s licensing committee chairman, Coun Keith Vickers, said: “The running of this riding school gives serious concern. The owner seems to have little regard to the welfare of the animals and even less for the children, who they place in potential danger with no responsible adult supervision.

“The law regulating riding schools ensures that businesses are safe for the animal and riders and ensures that licensed riding schools operate fairly and are not undercut by rogue businesses who do not face the same stringent checks.

“I understand that the facilities were found to be in a poor state, with leaking roofs on some of the stables, where ponies were housed, leaving their bedding wet. Poor drainage from the fields meant pooling of water in another stable and the field where horses had been put out for pasture had the equivalent of four months worth of horse manure scattered around.”