The RSPCA is appealing for witnesses after a crash on the ‘flashing lane’ at Appleby Horse Fair this afternoon (Friday 5 June), where horses are ridden and driven at high speed to show them off to potential buyers.

One horse died at the scene and another horse had to be put to sleep by a vet from Redwings Horse Sanctuary.

RSPCA chief inspector Rob Melloy said: “We believe one horse was pulling a sulky whilst the other is thought to have been being ridden.

“Our inspectors didn’t witness the incident but were on the scene shortly afterwards.

“We want to hear from anyone who did see what happened. They can approach us at the event or call the RSPCA inspector appeal line on 0300 123 8018.”

The identity of the people involved in the crash is unknown as they had left the scene when RSPCA officers and the vet arrived.

RSPCA chief inspector Melloy said: “Two horses have died as a result of this incident, but it could have been worse still.

“People must ensure that they are in control when they are riding or driving horses on the flashing lane at speed.

“Failing to do so can easily result in serious injury and even death.”

The RSPCA is the lead animal welfare organisation at the fair and has 26 officers there including specialist equine officers from all over the country.

The RSPCA works hand-in-hand with four other animal welfare organisations at the fair. There are three vets and two specialist field officers from Redwings Horse Sanctuary. World Horse Welfare has sent four field officers. Blue Cross has sent six grooms and one horse-unit manager to assist with the handling and transportation of horses. The Donkey Sanctuary has sent a vet, their Head of Welfare and a Donkey Welfare Advisor.

There is a vet station at Salt Tip Corner where assistance can be sought for any animal that needs it and anyone with any concerns is urged to alert us to them. The vet station has been staffed today, and will be staffed tomorrow and Sunday (5/6/7 June) between 10am-4pm.

*Appleby Fair is unique in Europe and, as well as attracting around 10,000 Gypsies and Travellers, over 30,000 other visitors attend the fair, with Sunday being the traditional main visitors’ day. It transforms the town of Appleby for the week, as it normally has a population of around 2,500.

The fair has been in existence for at least 300 years, and probably longer. It is the largest horse fair in Britain and amongst the oldest in Europe.

The fair has a primary connection with Fair Hill, which is in the ownership of Appleby Town Council. Much of the horse dealing takes place at the crossroads by Fair Hill, and on the Sands by the River Eden, where nearby roads are closed for periods to allow horses to be shown and traded.

Multi Agency Strategic Co-ordinating Group (MASCG)

In October 2007, the Multi-Agency Strategic Co-ordinating Group (MASCG) was set up to bring together and co-ordinate the work of the key public agencies that have a regulatory role at the Fair.

The MASCG consists of representatives from the Gypsy and Traveller community, Eden District Council, Cumbria Constabulary, Cumbria County Council, Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service, Cumbria NHS, North West Ambulance Service, RSPCA, Environment Agency, South Lakeland District Council, Highways Agency and HMRC. The objective is to make the fair a safer and more enjoyable event for residents, Gypsies and Travellers and visitors.

For the latest information about Appleby Horse Fair 2015 visit http://www.applebyfair.org/, follow http://twitter.com/ApplebyFair on Twitter or visit the Appleby Horse Fair Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/ApplebyHorseFair