Gypsies condemn ‘inexcusable act of cruelty’ as young horse ‘worked to death’ at Appleby

  • A three-year-old colt was “worked to death” at Appleby Horse Fair, in what has been described as an “inexcusable act of cruelty”.

    The RSPCA, one of nine welfare organisations working on the Appleby Horse Project, is appealing for information after the 14hh skewbald trotter collapsed at Jubilee Bridge at about 3pm on Wednesday (5 June).

    RSPCA inspector Rob Melloy said the horse’s temperature was very high and he was covered in rubs.

    “He had been worked until he dropped,” he said.

    “This was an inexcusable act of cruelty. This person has let themselves, their family and of course this poor horse down, who undoubtedly suffered before he died.

    “We want to hear from anyone who knows who is responsible and are releasing CCTV images of him, with the horse, so that we can ensure this doesn’t happen again. Please contact the RSPCA on our special appeal line 0300 123 8018 or police on 101.

    “This incident is a very disappointing way to have started the fair today, where there are so many examples of good horsemanship, and we know a lot of people will be upset to hear about this.”

    The annual Appleby Horse Fair this year runs from 6 to 12 June and the nine welfare organisations are there to support the horses.

    Gypsy representatives Billy Welch and Bill Lloyd said: “We condemn in the strongest possible terms whoever has done this. We are sickened and saddened by the cruelty that this person or persons have shown.

    “We have no hesitation in asking anyone who has any knowledge of this awful event to cooperate fully with police and RSPCA in identifying whoever is responsible. If you are in any doubt, please come forward and provide any information you have for the sake of justice and the future of the fair.”

    Mr Welch and Mr Lloyd said they are “fully supportive” of the work of the nine organisations to improve standards of horse welfare, and this incident is “a body blow to all our efforts”.

    “As far as we know we have never had this happen before and we plead with everyone to listen to the welfare messages so that it never happens again,” they said.

    “Appleby is one of the greatest celebrations of the horse in Europe and this tragic event is a stain on the fair that will be hard to wash out. The fair attracts a diverse mix of people including gypsies and travellers, but the majority are settled people. The standard of horsemanship among gypsy people is usually high and they are often among the first to report abuse at the fair when they see it. We do not yet know the identity of the person responsible and if it was a gypsy we will condemn them even more strongly and loudly but please do not leap to any conclusions until we know the facts.”

    There will be a vet station at the fair, at Salt Tip Corner, where help can be sought for any animal. The station will be staffed on Friday, Saturday and Sunday between 10am and 4pm. Anyone with any concerns for an animal should approach an RSPCA or police officer.

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