Published: 16:56, 25 January 2022
| Updated: 16:59, 27 January 2022
The owner of an unlicensed riding school faces having to sell off horses after being fined £5,000 by a court.
Tamara Bastock, who runs The Limes Farm Equestrian Centre, Hildenborough, pleaded guilty to two charges under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 at Sevenoaks Magistrates' Court.
The prosecution was brought by Tonbridge and Malling council, which said it made several attempts to warn Ms Bastock that she needed a licence.
The court was told the council had issued a written warning to Ms Bastock in December 2020 reminding her that continuing to operate the stables without a licence was an offence and she could face a prison sentence or a fine.
A council officer visited the equestrian centre in July and October and found she was continuing to give riding lessons.
When interviewed by the council officer, she admitted she was running a riding business offering group and individual lessons, with charges from £15 for half an hour.
She also acknowledged she needed a licence to carry out these activities and that her last one had expired in 2018.
Bastock pleaded guilty to two charges of giving riding lessons in the course of her business when not licensed to do so and was fined £2,500 on each count.
In a Facebook post today, Limes Farm told followers some of the animals would need to be sold.
It said: "Hi everyone, thank you all so much for all your lovely messages of support.
"I’ve been truly blessed to get to know you all and your children and I’m so pleased to have had the opportunity to teach you all.
"I feel that we have made our own little community and I’m so proud of what we’ve achieved. "Going forward I have no choice but to offer my lovely ponies/horses for sale- a select few will be staying here and will be available for loan.
"These ponies are loved by many therefore I thought it best to put feelers out here first before putting them on the open market. Message me for more details."
Cllr Des Keers, the council’s cabinet lead on licensing, said: ‘Getting a licence for a business providing horse riding lessons is vital as it ensures the regulations around customer safety and animal welfare are being met.
"Unfortunately, despite our previous warnings to the owner of this riding school, she was seen on multiple occasions to be giving lessons without a licence and we had no choice but to bring this prosecution.’
The Animal Welfare Act states no person is allowed to carry out certain activities unless under the authority of a license or registration.
This includes riding establishments under the Riding Establishments Act 1964.
KentOnline has approached Ms Bastock for further comment.