RSPCA lead enquiry into Appleby horse drowning

  • Witnesses are being asked to come forward after a horse drowned at Appleby Horse Fair last Friday (8 June).

    Crowds of visitors at the annual travellers’ fair in Westmoreland, Cumbria, watched in horror as a man lost hold of his horse after leading him into the River Eden to be washed. The horse then slipped beneath the surface in a basin of deep water, and the man left the scene.

    The piebald horse died despite the efforts of on-lookers who plunged in to retrieve the stricken animal.

    Inspector Lee Skelton of Appleby Police told H&H: “We’ve got photos and film of the incident so we’re working to establish the identity of the man. We have two or three suggested identities.”

    RSPCA chief inspector Brian Jeffries added: “It’s a shocking incident and we are extremely disappointed that it happened. Those responsible for the horse have not yet come forward, but we are working with the Appleby Fair community and Cumbria Constabulary to track them down.”

    A 12-strong team of RSPCA inspectors is working with Eden District Council and the police to promote animal welfare and to minimise suffering at the event.

    It is a tradition of the ancient Romany fair to wash horses in the river before each day’s trading. The fair is due to finish on 14 June.

    Will welfare organisations put a stop to Appleby? Find out their views and read more about the fair’s history of problems, in next week’s H&H

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