Second horse dies from 'exhaustion' at horse fair

People and horses in the river at the Appleby Horse Fair, the annual gathering of gypsies and travellers in Appleby, CumbriaImage source, PA MEDIA
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Horses being overworked and left exhausted was a "significant issue" at Appleby, the RSPCA said

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A second horse died at Appleby Horse Fair after being overworked, the RSPCA has said.

A Shetland pony died in the Trade Field on Saturday morning after showing "all the signs of exhaustion", which was a "significant issue" at the event, the charity said.

Animal welfare officers recorded 438 interventions including a three-year-old stallion which was "worked to death".

The RSPCA said it believed most of the incidents had happened at night and warned if the weather had been warmer, there could have been more deaths.

Gypsy and traveller community leaders Billy Welch and Bill Lloyd said they were "sickened" by the deaths.

"As far as we know, this is the first time horses have died in this way at Appleby," they said.

They also said they hoped it was not a sign of "increasing disregard for animal welfare".

"Animal cruelty brings shame to the fair, and we are fortunate that the overwhelming majority of Gypsy and traveller people have very high standards of horse care," the leaders added in a joint statement.

Image source, PA MEDIA
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The RSPCA say most attendees "celebrate horse health, happiness and horsemanship"

The RSPCA said of the 438 interventions, five investigations were ongoing.

It said it had also taken other animals into its care including a kitten, goldfinch and wild rabbit.

Image source, RSPCA
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The RSPCA said it recorded 438 interventions during the fair

The fair, which ends on Wednesday, is unique in Europe and in its 248th year.

Cumbria Police said it had made 74 arrests during the fair and 28 arrests in a "proactive approach" in the weeks leading up to the event.

Five men were arrested on suspicion of grievous bodily harm after a 16-year-old boy suffered a significant injury to his arm in the early hours of Sunday.

The force said the men were released on bail, with conditions not to enter the county unless to answer bail.

Low violence levels

Det Supt Dan St Quintin said it was "important to note" the majority of arrests were linked to action being taken on the roads, which included vehicles suspected of being stolen elsewhere in the country.

Officers reported the "vast majority of people" were cordial and positive, with "very low levels of actual violence, public order and anti-social behaviour".

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The post-fair clean up has begun

Steph Cordon, from Westmorland and Furness Council, said the authority had made a number of improvements this year following feedback from residents.

This included provision of bins, portable toilets and street sweeping teams, who worked "exceptionally hard".

The council said it hoped to complete the post-fair clean up by the end of the week.

It advised residents who had any fair-related issues to report using the community action group form, external.

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