Charity ‘aware’ of incidents but says Appleby 2019 was ‘positive’

The lowest number of people since 2010 have been given welfare advice and warnings at Appleby Horse Fair as the RSPCA calls this year’s event a “positive” one.

A spokesman for the charity said 131 people were given welfare advice during the five-day event in Cumbria (6 to 10 June), compared to 198 in 2018, and 310 in 2010. Five people received welfare warnings compared to 14 in 2018, and 23 in 2010.

RSPCA chief inspector Rob Melloy said: “There have been a couple of incidents posted on social media, which we’re aware of and have either dealt with or are dealing with, but on the whole this year’s fair has been a positive one.

“We, and our partner animal welfare charities, have a significant presence at the fair, and this year’s team was the biggest yet, but we can’t be everywhere and inevitably, despite our best efforts, there will be things that we just don’t see.”

Five investigations are ongoing, compared to four in 2018, and a spokesman for the RSPCA said these do not relate to overworking or exhausted horses. The spokesman added that there were no incidents involving dogs in hot cars.

“The weather plays such a big part in the kind of incidents we deal with at the fair. This year’s weather was very mixed, with a lot of rain on Saturday and Sunday, but it is still really pleasing that there were not significant issues with either of these things this year,” said Mr Melloy.

“It was also really pleasing how positively and patiently people responded when the river ramp was closed due to the weather conditions, which we know can be frustrating.”

Welfare organisations came together for the multi-agency undertaking, the biggest deployment of the year for RSPCA staff with 34 officers in attendance.

The Blue Cross sent six officers from its horse team and two people from the charity’s education team. Bransby Horses and the British Horse Society sent a team of three each. The Donkey Sanctuary sent five welfare advisers and a vet. Redwings Horse Sanctuary had nine staff in attendance; four vets, a farrier, two senior field officers and three members of educational staff. World Horse Welfare sent six field officers and two education officers.

An information and education tent was open for the ninth year.

“The tent continues to grow in popularity thanks to interactive activities including specimens of real horse parasites and body condition scoring,” said the RSPCA spokesman.

Vets also handed out 16 welfare awards as part of Redwings’ campaign to recognise horses in ‘outstanding’ condition. The awards included prizes for trotters, who scored ‘highly’ in free fitness tests provided by Redwings’ vets, and a peope’s champion award voted for by visitors to the fair.



Six “rising star” awards were given to younger owners who demonstrated “excellent care and attention” to ensure the health of their horses.

A spokesman for the RSPCA said winners were offered the chance to have their horse microchipped and passported for free if they were not already – and three were given out.

“I’d like to say thank you to all of our partner charities who come together at Appleby every year. It is a real team effort. I also want to say thank you to Cumbria Constabulary for their fantastic support,” said Mr Melloy.

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