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Ask H&H: children working at stables

Q: MY 14-year-old daughter helps out all day at a British Horse Society-approved stables in return for rides — a great way of learning to ride and handle different horses.

I am now led to believe that, to comply with the law and to be covered by insurance, each child should have a work permit issued by the local council. I have also been told that they should not work for more than five hours at a time and that the work undertaken should be light.

It would be such a shame if the red-tape brigade managed to stop this great educational opportunity.
LB, Dorset

H&H asked Angie Bailey, equine account manager at the Ryan Insurance Group in Suffolk, provider of insurance for commercial riding establishments, for her take on the situation.

“It is a requirement that any child between the ages of 13 and 16 should have a permit, which can be obtained from the local council,” she explained.

“These permits allow a child of 13 to work five hours on a Saturday, and one of 15 to work eight hours, between the hours of 7am and 7pm.”

Both age groups may only work for two hours on a Sunday.

“It is not an insurer’s responsibility to ensure permits are issued, however, minors must be noted as volunteers on a riding school’s insurance policy to ensure they are covered by the liability section. This is a requirement by law,” Angie confirmed.

“I agree this is an excellent experience for children to learn stable management and also how to handle horses of different temperaments. Although these permits may seem like another hurdle, they have been introduced to protect children working with horses, while still allowing them to enjoy their hobby safely.”

Few people would like to see the banning of children helping out at stables and some enterprising establishments take youngsters on as part of a training club to ensure they are covered on the school’s insurance.

Pat Shepherd, joint-owner of Croft Equestrian Centre in Oldham, pioneered the concept, and agreed with her insurers that young people could work at the yard on a training basis.

“We started the club when Oldham Council told us it was illegal for children to work for us, even though they were not paid in cash,” Pat explained.

“There’s a small annual fee to join the training club, which means the children are covered by our public liability insurance, as they would be for riding lessons. We employ someone to be responsible for them, and we make ongoing risk assessments and log the children’s training.

“The 10- to 12-year-olds help out on this basis, but those over 13 need a permit,” she said.

“We complete a sheet for the local authority with names of the volunteers and give a copy to the insurers. I’d advise any centres that have not looked into the matter to do so, as the children at your yard may not be covered in the event of an accident, which would be unthinkable.”

Information

Ryan Insurance Group Tel: 08707 549422 www.ryan-group.co.uk

Croft Equestrian Centre Tel: 0161 624 2849 www.croft-end.co.uk

This Q&A was first published in Horse & Hound (3 July, ’08)

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