‘Overworked’ horses given fluids at Appleby Horse Fair

  • Fluids had to be given to a number of “overworked” horses at this year’s Appleby Horse Fair.

    The RSPCA has said the overworking of equines during the “exceptionally hot” weather over the weekend mean a number of horses had to be given fluids on site.

    “We had to warn far too many people whose horses were being worked to exhaustion in the heat,” said RSPCA chief inspector Rob Melloy.

    “It was an exceptionally hot few days — which gave the fair a real holiday-type atmosphere — but quite frankly, they should have known better.”

    The charity has two ongoing investigations and six horses were taken away from the fair.

    Since the beginning of the fair (2 June) the RSPCA has issued 274 people with advice and given out 13 warnings.

    This compared to 148 and 10 warnings last year and 142 and 10 in 2014.

    Two dogs also had to be removed from a hot van on Sunday (5 June). Neither were hurt.

    “We know that the weather plays a huge part in the type and number of incidents dealt with at the event,” added Mr Melloy.

    “We had in increase in staff on the ground this year working different hours which I’m sure has had an impact, but I’d be lying if I said that this year’s numbers aren’t disappointing.”

    He also emphasised that the fair is a large event and it is only “a small minority” of attendees who have little regard for animal welfare.

    The RSPCA is the lead animal welfare organisation at the fair.

    This year 31 of its officers attended, including specialist equine officers from across the country.

    The British Horse Society, members of the National Equine Welfare Council, the Blue Cross, Redwings, World Horse Welfare and the Donkey Sanctuary also sent officers, grooms and vets to the fair.

    This year, Redwings ran a “best in show” competition, which rewarded good examples of horse care and welfare.

    An RSPCA spokesman said this had a “really positive response” from fair-goers.

    Appleby Fair has been held for more than 300 years in the Cumbrian town. It attracts around 10,000 Gypsies and travellers as well as around 30,000 other visitors.

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