TWENTY-FOUR Health, Happiness and Horsemanship Awards Given Out At Appleby

Twenty-four awards have been given out in celebration of the best horse health, happiness, and horsemanship at this year’s Appleby Horse Fair, including a Vet’s and People’s Champion.

The annual gathering, which is particularly important to the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities, ended on Monday (10th June) in the Cumbrian town of Appleby-in-Westmorland.

Nine animal charities* - all members of NEWC - sent staff to the Fair to support the protection and wellbeing of horses, and the awards are organised by them to recognise the very best welfare at the event. Next year will mark the 10th anniversary of the awards, which are sponsored by the Traditional Gypsy Cob Association.

Welfare vet and awards judge Nicola Berryman, who works at Redwings Horse Sanctuary, has been attending the Fair since 2012. She said: “The Fair is a place of extremes for us as vets, and there’s no question that judging Best at Appleby is my favourite part of my role.

“It is an honour to meet the wonderful owners of these well cared for horses and ponies – and of course this year’s mule!

“It’s always a difficult decision to choose the overall Vet’s Champion for the Fair, which the vets select from the Best at Appleby award winners throughout the event on the final day. It was close between a couple of the winners, but we’re thrilled to award it to Traditional Cob Grace and her lovely family The Basfords.

“We first met Grace last year when she scored a little too high on the body condition chart to award a rosette. We hoped to see her again and when her owner Scott brought the six-year-old to the tent on Saturday I was really impressed.

“Grace was rescued by Scott, in foal, from very poor circumstances, and was so filthy he didn’t even know what colour she was! Now it’s clear to see that she’s carefully cared for and adored by him and his whole family.”

Vet’s Champion Award Winner - Grace
People's Champion Award Winner - Raven
Best Hoof Health Award Winner - Wilbur

The People’s Champion is awarded to Raven and his owners Karl and family, who were awarded a Best at Appleby rosette on Friday after the children spotted the award’s TikTok page and insisted on coming over to find out more! Raven’s posts across all the Best at Appleby social media channels - TikTok, Facebook and Instagram - had over 1500 engagements and reached over 30,000 people!

Nicola said: “Friesian Cross Raven is a really good example of excellent welfare at the Fair. He is in amazing condition and his coat is so silky. We think he looks incredible, and the care given to him is clear to see. He’s a very worthy People’s Champion.”

Best Hoof Health was awarded by leading farrier and educator Dean Bland and Best in Harness was awarded by Master saddler and harness makers Chris Taylor and Laurence Pearman, who give up their time to attend the event as part of the Appleby Horse Project team. The Best in Harness Award is supported by The Society of Master Saddlers who provided a £50 voucher to the winner. The awards are also supported by SPILLERS, who provide horse treats for the deserving winners.

The full list of winners is:

Vet’s Champion Award (chosen by welfare vets from the Best at Appleby winners)

Grace (owners Scott, Conor, Neive and Bobby)

People’s Champion Award (chosen by the public from engagements on the Best at Appleby social media channels)

Raven (owner Karl and family)

Best at Appleby Award

  • Dan (handled by Toni and Brandon)
  • Maggie (owner Dylan)
  • Champagne (owners Zoe and Lexi)
  • Grace (owners Scott, Conor, Neive and Bobby)
  • Malcolm (handlers Emily, Ben, Kate and Jerry)
  • Prince (owner Billy)
  • Willow (owners Craig and Sophie)
  • Raven (owner Karl and family)
  • Pride (owners Mr and Mrs Scott)
  • Wilbur (owner Rosie)

Rising Star Award

  • Isaac (who was with Shetland pony Elsa)
  • Teddy (handler Annaleigh and owner Liam)
  • Isla (who was with pony Polo)

Best Hoof Health Award

Wilbur (and farrier Tom Oliver Dyson)

Best in Harness Award

Paddy (owners Liam and Hannah)

Returning Winners Award

  • Lucifer (owner Carl)
  • Rosie (owner Michael)
  • Heartbreaker (handler Johnny)
  • Magic (owner Alison)
  • Sundance Kid (owner Liam)
  • Bobbie Dazzler (owner Robbie)

Nicola added: “We know there are a range of welfare standards at the Fair, and there have been a lot of conversations at both our Best at Appleby and Engagement tents about the death of the horse at Jubilee Bridge on Wednesday.

“No one is pretending that there aren’t welfare concerns at the event, but there is a lot to celebrate at the Fair as well and that’s what Best at Appleby is about. We’re looking forward to celebrating 10 years of these wonderful awards at next year’s Fair.”

*The nine animal welfare charities working in collaboration on the Appleby Horse Project are RSPCARedwings Horse SanctuaryBlue CrossWorld Horse WelfareBransby HorsesThe British Horse SocietyThe Donkey SanctuaryOak Tree Animals and The Horse Trust.

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