Page last updated at 07:39 GMT, Thursday, 4 June 2009 08:39 UK

Thousands arrive for horse fair

Travellers en-route to Appleby
An estimated 1,800 horse-drawn caravans will be at the fair

Thousands of people are descending on the Cumbrian town of Appleby for its annual horse fair.

The week-long event is the largest horse fair in Britain, attracting about 10,000 Gypsies and travellers and more than 30,000 visitors in total.

Those taking part spent up to 48 hours at seven temporary camps on approaches to the town before being allowed on to the fair site.

Police and animal welfare officers said they would have a presence at the show.

Elaine Lomas, Eden District Council's principal environmental health officer, said: "This year the message has been spread far and wide advising Gypsies and travellers of the new arrangements for the fair.

New measures

"This includes change at some of the outlying temporary stopping places, in particular Cote Moor.

"The new measures at Cote Moor are working well and on Monday around 250 caravans and 20 horse drawns were using the site, which is equipped with toilet facilities, a grazing area for horses and a water supply."

The RSPCA has already announced it is doubling the number of inspectors at the fair.

It said 20 inspectors would focus on the annual tradition of horse washing in the River Eden.

In 2007 a man was jailed after a pony died during the practice, in which the heads of horses are immersed in water.

An estimated 1,500 horses are expected to be washed in the River Eden in front of potential buyers and sold over the course of the fair.

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