The RSPCA says exhaustion of horses will be a big focus for the team at this year’s Appleby Horse Fair, which begins on Thursday, 6 June.

The annual Gypsy and traveller event – which goes on until Monday (10 June) – is both the RSPCA’s biggest deployment of staff and multi-agency undertaking of the year, with six other horse organisations also involved.

This year 34 RSPCA officers will be attending including specialist equine officers from across England and Wales. Blue Cross, Bransby Horses, British Horse Society, The Donkey Sanctuary, Redwings Horse Sanctuary and World Horse Welfare are also sending staff to work in various capacities.

RSPCA chief inspector Rob Melloy said: “Exhaustion of horses will be a big focus for the team at this year’s Appleby.

“We’ve had overworked and dehydrated horses on our hands for the past three years.

“A man went to prison after being convicted of causing unnecessary suffering to a horse at last year’s fair as a result of overworking his horse.

“The majority of horse owners at the fair are good horsemen and women but there are some myths that need debunking, specifically around the provision of water. It’s okay to allow a horse to drink immediately after exercise.

“When you’ve bought a horse you don’t know how much that horse has already been worked, some of these horses are being massively overworked over the course of the fair, it would be like asking someone to run a marathon three days in a row.

There will be a vet station at Salt Tip Corner where assistance can be sought for any animal that needs it, as well as an information and education tent where Gypsies and travellers can share knowledge and discuss issues relating to horse care. Now in its ninth year, the tent continues to grow in popularity thanks to interactive activities.

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