Animal welfare charities highlight importance of watering horses during the Fair

30 May 2024

Staff from nine animal welfare charities who make up Appleby Horse Project are highlighting the importance of watering horses during the Fair next week. 

The annual gathering of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities, which is the biggest in the UK, begins next Thursday (6th June) and runs until Monday (10th June) in the Cumbrian town of Appleby-in-Westmorland. 

Vet Nicola Berryman, who works at Redwings Horse Sanctuary and has been going to the Fair since 2012, said: “There is a hard-to-bust myth within the horse community that watering horses straight after exercise can lead to colic.

“The science says that the risk of this is negligible compared to the risk of not watering a horse that needs it.

“Dehydration poses a huge danger to horses, and we have seen changes, recognising this, in other environments where horses are worked – for example in sport.

“The issue was the biggest to arise at last year’s Fair, along with horses being worked too young or too hard for the conditions.

“We know that there are so many amazing horsemen and women within the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities and are looking to them to lead the way for others who are less knowledgeable or experienced.”

The project will be promoting the watering message through beer mats at local pubs, posters, and on their Best at Appleby Awards social media accounts, where you can watch Nicola’s video.

The awards – which are in their 9th year - recognise the very best horse health, happiness and horsemanship at the Fair and are sponsored by the Traditional Gypsy Cob Association.

There are 50 rosettes available to be awarded during the event - including Rising Star rosettes for young people, Returning Winners and special rosettes for Best Trotter, Best Hoof Health, Best in Harness and a Welfare Advocate Award for a social influencer who promotes animal welfare at the Fair.

Best Hoof Health is awarded by leading farrier and educator Dean Bland and Best in Harness is awarded by Master saddler and harness makers Chris Taylor and Laurence Pearman. Chris will also be doing harness demonstrations at the Appleby Horse Project tent on Salt Tip Corner on Friday and Saturday at 3pm. 

Vet Nicola will be judging the awards and said: “The awards are all about celebrating horse owners at the Fair who are putting the welfare of their horse first. 

“We’ll choose a Vet’s Champion from our winners on Sunday and will be asking people to vote for their favourite winner to be awarded People’s Choice Champion on our social media. 

“To find out more and get involved just search for Best at Appleby on TikTok, Instagram or Facebook.”

The experienced and committed team of charity and private practice vets, logistics experts, enforcement and education officers have been supporting the protection and well-being of horses at the Fair for over 20 years.

The RSPCA are sending 32 people; Redwings Horse Sanctuary are sending eight; Blue Cross are sending seven; World Horse Welfare are sending six; Bransby Horses are sending five; The British Horse Society are sending two; Oak Tree Animals are sending two and The Donkey Sanctuary are sending one. All are members of the National Equine Welfare Council (NEWC).

There will be a vet station at Salt Tip Corner where assistance can be sought for any animal that needs it. The vet station will be staffed on Friday, Saturday and Sunday between 10am and 4pm.

Anyone who is worried about an animal should approach an RSPCA or police officer or call the RSPCA on 0300 1234 999 or police on 101.