Appeal for information after horse dies at Appleby Horse Fair

6 June 2024

The RSPCA is appealing for information after a horse was worked to death at Appleby Horse Fair.

The stallion – a three-year-old skewbald trotter, 14hh – collapsed at Jubilee Bridge at around 3pm yesterday (Wednesday 5th June). 

RSPCA chief inspector Rob Melloy said: “The horse’s temperature was very high, and he was covered in rubs. He had been worked until he dropped. 

“This was an inexcusable act of cruelty. This person has let themselves, their family and of course this poor horse down, who undoubtedly suffered before he died. 

“We want to hear from anyone who knows who is responsible and are releasing CCTV images of a man we're keen to identify in connection with the incident, so that we can ensure this doesn’t happen again. Please contact the RSPCA on our special appeal line 0300 123 8018 or police on 101.

CCTV Image




“This incident is a very disappointing way to have started the Fair today, where there are so many examples of good horsemanship, and we know a lot of people will be upset to hear about this.”

Gypsy representatives Billy Welch and Bill Lloyd commented as follows: “We condemn in the strongest possible terms whoever has done this. We are sickened and saddened by the cruelty that this person or persons have shown. We have no hesitation is asking anyone who has any knowledge of this awful event to cooperate fully with police and RSPCA in identifying whoever is responsible. If you are in any doubt, please come forward and provide any information you have for the sake of justice and the future of the Fair.

 “We are fully supportive of the efforts of the RSPCA and their partner charities to improve the standards of horse welfare, and this is a body blow to all our efforts.  As far as we know we have never had this happen before and we plead with everyone to listen to the welfare messages so that it never happens again.

“Appleby is one of the greatest celebrations of the horse in Europe and this tragic event is a stain on the Fair that will be hard to wash out. The Fair attracts a diverse mix of people including Gypsies and Travellers, but the majority are settled people. The standard of horsemanship among Gypsy people is usually high and they are often among the first to report abuse at the Fair when they see it. We do not yet know the identity of the person responsible and if it was a Gypsy we will condemn them even more strongly and loudly but please do not leap to any conclusions until we know the facts.”

Staff from eight other animal welfare charities* attend the Fair each year, alongside the RSPCA. The experienced and committed team of charity and private practice vets, logistics experts, enforcement and education officers have been supporting the protection and wellbeing of horses at the Fair for over 20 years. 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 with any concerns for an animal should approach an RSPCA or police officer.