The RSPCA is on-hand with an increased number of inspectors at this week’s legendary Appleby Horse Fair. Twelve inspectors will be at the fair, working with local police to minimise suffering and promote animal welfare at the five-day event, where around 1,500 horses will be bought and sold.
About 25,000 visitors are expected to flock to Appleby in the district of Cumbria, near the Scottish border, to watch Romany, Gypsy and travelling communities wash horses in the River Eden and race them in front of prospective buyers.
RSPCA has worked to try and improve the welfare of the horses at the fair in a number of ways, including the construction of a temporary ramp to help prevent accidents as horses are led into the river, and RSPCA equine consultants being on-hand with advice on horse welfare.
Some gypsies arrive by horse-drawn caravan after weeks of travel from around the British Isles. Appleby is one of the last great gatherings of “traveler” horse people. Sadly, accidents between horses and motor vehicles on roads leading to and from Appleby has marred the event in recent years.
The BBC web site has a slide show from the fair. The old post card above is from the University of Liverpool’s Gypsy Lore Society web page. I don’t think things have changed much.