Charity's fears over horses' Rome trip

AN animal charity has raised concerns about the wellbeing of horses set to be used for a re-enactment of the journey taken by Romans who invaded Britain.

By Juliette Maxam

AN animal charity has raised concerns about the wellbeing of horses set to be used for a re-enactment of the journey taken by Romans who invaded Britain.

Gary Bell and John Hannington want to retrace the steps taken by Roman soldiers as they marched across Europe to invade Britain in 43AD.

They plan to undertake the 2,000-mile journey from Rome to Colchester in March in a chariot pulled by two horses.


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The pair, both members of the Roman Legacy Society, are making the journey to highlight Colchester's importance in ancient history.

But Becky Hopkins, regional spokeswoman for the RSPCA, said she has "real concerns" about the venture for the horses involved and warned the organisers that the animals would be thoroughly inspected upon their return.

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She said: "We're against the use of animals for entertainment like this. We do not condone this journey, but there's nothing that we can do legally to prevent it.

"We will be seeking assurances from the people involved that the horses will be well looked after. That means regular rests - and not just overnight stops. It's not advisable to have them doing all this work every single day.

"We would want them well fed and watered and to have regular vets' checks en route.

"We would also ideally want them to change the horses along the way whenever possible. The weather could be hot and we don't want them to collapse.

"We will certainly also be there upon their arrival in Colchester to give the horses a thorough inspection."

Mr Bell stressed the horses' welfare was of paramount importance.

Four horses will be taken on the journey, with two pulling the chariot for 40kms in the morning and two pulling it in the evening for a further 40kms.

Mr Bell and Mr Hannington are being trained by British horse and carriage driving champion Paul Mills and they will be accompanied on their trip by two horse grooms.

"We are very concerned about the animals' welfare," said Mr Bell.

The pair aim to start their epic voyage in March next year, and will take eight weeks traveling from Rome to Colchester via the town's twin towns of Imola and Avignon.

Once back in England they will re-trace Emperor Claudius' steps from Richborough, Kent, to Colchester.

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