The RSPCA says this year’s Appleby Horse Fair was a ‘positive one’ with the number of warnings about animal welfare significantly down.
During the five-day event, 131 people were given advice, down from 198 last year and the lowest figure since 2010. The number of warnings were also down to five, from last year’s 14.
The fair, which is the largest horse fair in Britain and amongst the oldest in Europe, began in the Cumbrian town on Thursday 6 June and finished on Monday 10 June.
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.
“Anyone who is worried about an animal can always approach one of us or call us in the usual way on 0300 1234 999.”
There are five on-going investigations compared to four last year, though none of these relate to overworking and exhaustion of horses. And for the first year in a long time there were no incidents involving dogs in hot cars or environments.
Chief Inspector Melloy, said: “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 Signiant issues with either of these things this year.
“It was also really pleasing how positively, and patient people responded when the river ramp was closed due to weather conditions, which we know can be frustrating.”
This year 34 RSPCA officers attended including specialist equine officers from across England and Wales. It is the charity’s biggest development of staff and the biggest multi-agency event of the year, with six other horse organisations also involved.
Blue Cross sent six people from their horse team and two from education, and Bransby Horses sent a team of three people. The British Horse Society sent three people and the Donkey Sanctuary sent five donkey welfare advisors and one vet. Redwings Horse Sanctuary had nine staff in attendance – four veterinary surgeons, two senior field officers, three people from the education team and a farrier. World Horse Welfare sent six field officers and two education officers.
Chief Inspector Melloy, added: “I’d like to say thank you to all of our partner charities who come together in Appleby every year. It is. A real team effort. I also want to say thank you to Cumbria Constabulary for their fantastic support.”
Sixteen welfare awards were handed out by vets as part of Redwings’ campaign to recognise and champion horses in outstanding condition.
This year’s awards included new pries for Trotters who scored highly in free fitness tests provided by Redwings vets and a brand-new People’s Champion award voted for by fair-goers.
A further six Rising Star awards were made to the next generation of owners, who all demonstrated excellent care and attention to ensure the health and happiness of their horses.