Shropshire Council

Horse riding establishments

The main hazards associated with horse riding establishments - the list is not exhaustive - include:

Injuries arising from lifting

Employers must carry out a sufficient assessment of manual handling operations. In order to prevent such injuries, employers are required to take precautionary measures to minimise hazardous manual handling operations, eg moving bales of hay, saddlery and handling horses etc.


Electrical hazards may arise in particular due to dampness, dust, physical damage, misuse and incorrect design and installation. All equipment should be installed and maintained by a competent person.

It's recommended (IEE Wiring Regs BS7671) that the fixed system is inspected/tested at least every five years (or more frequently as recommended by a qualified electrician) and that all electrical appliances are examined/checked ('PAT' tested) at a frequency appropriate to the risk. Regular maintenance should include visual checks for general wear and tear ensuring that plugs, leads and sockets are in good condition and that there is no exposed wiring.  Any corrective actions must be carried out immediately.

Safe use of machinery

To prevent harm to employees ensure that all staff are fully trained to use the equipment provided. Ensure that workplace equipment is maintained in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions, kept in good condition, is safe for use and that it's the right equipment for the job.

Particular hazards are associated with:

  • tractors and their use, and in particular power take-off (PTO) driven machines - training of tractor drivers and guarding of PTO and PTO shaft and other dangerous parts of machines is essential
  • steam/water pressure cleaners pose a risk of electrocution/burns and require specific precautions including the use of a residual current device (RCD) or equivalent
  • all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), sometimes known as quad bikes, are designed for off-road use. The hazards are similar to those of tractors, including overturning, falling from and hitting/running over people on the ground.  The use of head protection is essential. Helmets should be capable of being worn with appropriate eye protection against insects, branches etc. Ensure that clothing etc cannot become caught in moving parts. Passengers should only be carried if the ATV is specifically designed for the purpose
  • horse walkers are provided to assist with exercising horses. Anyone required to operate them must be adequately trained. The main hazards to people relate to entanglement between the moving parts and the fixed areas, and there should be adequate guarding to safeguard against this. There are also potential hazards from electric shock and from lightning strike. It's essential that there are clearly visible and accessible isolator switches to enable the machine to be stopped in an emergency

Falls from height

Hay storage barns are one of the locations at riding establishments associated with falls from height, and measures must be taken to protect staff and members of the public from personal injury.

Stacks of hay can be prone to collapse, especially when moving bales. Such places do have an attraction for children, and therefore it's recommended that there's either a physical separation or signage and supervision in place to prevent children obtaining access.

Employers need to assess the use of ladders and stepladders and provide users, with adequate information and training to be able to use such equipment safely, as with all work equipment. Adequate supervision is needed so that safe practices continue to be used.

Floors, yard area and stairs

In order to prevent slips and trips, these areas should be kept free from obstructions at all times. Routeways should be maintained and kept in good condition. All areas should be well lit. Spillages should be cleared up immediately.  Staff should wear sensible footwear. Warning signs should be displayed during cleaning to warn customers/staff of potentially slippery surfaces. Ensure that any change in floor level is clearly visible.

Hazardous substances

To prevent personal harm from hazardous substances eg skin irritation, respiratory disease and viruses etc, a COSHH risk assessment is required for such substances as cleaning chemicals, disinfectants, insecticides, veterinary products, harmful micro-organisms and dusts.

  • dusts (respiratory sensitisers) are found in horses' coats and moulds and fungal spores from hay, straw and animal feeds.  Control measures could include ventilation, working practices and using suitable dust respirators
  • zoonoses (diseases transmitted from animals to humans). Control measures need to be in place to protect staff against the possibility of ringworm or leptospirosis (Weil's disease). These measures could include information and instruction to staff, the provision of protective clothing, good standards of personal hygiene and in the case for Weil's disease, pest control
  • tetanus (manure heaps) - it's recommended that staff are vaccinated. Again, good personal hygiene is essential, which includes covering any cuts etc with waterproof dressings
  • e.coli/salmonella which is carried by most types of animals and birds, can be transmitted to humans by contact with horse droppings. Personal hygiene is essential, particularly prior to eating, drinking or smoking
  • pesticides - should be used only by persons who have received suitable and sufficient training in its use. Safety measures include safe use, safe storage and signage


To reduce the risks associated with horses, which can be unpredictable, staff should be adequately trained in handling and restraint techniques, especially when loading/unloading and handling in restricted areas. It's essential that protective equipment is provided, eg safety footwear and protective headgear. Extra care should be taken with children and novices to match their ability when choosing the horse/pony for them to ride.

Workplace transport

Special consideration should be given, and in particular when events are being staged, to provide adequate segregation of vehicles, persons and horses, and provide separate routes to prevent collisions, which could result in injury.


Stables are a high fire risk, and advice should be sought from Shropshire Fire & Rescue Service.

Additional information

A link is available on this page to the CIEH Publication - 'Health and safety guidance for inspections of horse riding establishments and livery yards'.

Main legislative requirements