The RSPCA handed out 38 warnings to horse owners at Appleby Horse Fair this year, more than twice the number last year.

But the charity said the overall number of incidents reported to them was fewer than in past years.

The week-long annual gypsy gathering came to a close in the Cumbrian town yesterday (Wednesday 13 June).

And equine charities were at the event in force.

Thirty-two RSPCA staff attended, Redwings sent four vets and World Horse Welfare six staff, three from the Donkey Sanctuary and the Blue Cross sent four horse handlers and a horse ambulance.

RSPCA officers issued 38 warnings, mostly for overworking of horses and veterinary concerns.

Fourteen horses were either taken into the care of the RSPCA, Redwings, Blue Cross or Bransby Home of Rest because of welfare concerns – more than have ever been removed before.

But the overall number of incidents was considerably down on last year, at 192. In 2011 the figure was 346, in 2010 it was 311 and in 2009 it was 180.

RSPCA chief inspector Cathy Hyde said: “It’s really pleasing that we had to deal with fewer complaints than in previous years.

“The greater majority of owners at the fair were treating their animals well but, sadly, where we did need to intervene the situations were more serious, resulting in more warnings.”