Pit ponies were horses that worked underground in coal mines.
Mines went deep underground and could stretch for many kilometres so the miners needed help moving all the heavy coal that they had cut from the rock. Ponies are much stronger than people and one pony could move 30 tons of coal in one day – that’s the weight of around 20 motor cars!
A pony spent most of her or his life underground, living in special underground stables like this one:
This pony is having its fur clipped by one of the miners – why do you think they did that?
Pit ponies pulled little railway wagons filled with coal that the miners had cut from underground. A wagon like this is called a ‘hutch’. There were no bunnies inside but the shape was a bit like a rabbit hutch but open at the top. The hutch had iron wheels and ran along rails just like a railway.
When the pit ponies retired they were taken back to the surface and lived in a field just like other ponies.
Now have a go at making your own pit pony. Here’s what you will need:
- A4 Thick white paper or card
Here is a picture of a miner and a pit pony but their coal hutch has disappeared – can you draw it in?
Print out the picture and very carefully cut around the pony, miner and outline of the hutch.
Take care to include the two tabs at the bottom – we are going to fold those over so the pony can stand upright.
Now draw your coal hutch. You can make it any colour you like. To help you here is a real coal hutch that is on display at Summerlee Museum:
Look at the wheels – the spokes make a spiral shape, do you think you can draw them?
Now, your pony needs a background – print this picture out and stick it up behind your pony. Take a picture and show us your pony on Twitter @nl_heritage – don’t forget to tell us what your pony is called.