Sparky the Pit Pony’s Days in the Sun

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The last working horses at a colliery in Britain retired – astonishingly – in 1999. Here’s a story from The Mirror about one of the other “last pit ponies”, Sparky:

Since his retirement in 1988, Sparky has been taking it easy at the National Coal Mining Museum and has been looked after by Wendy and her colleague Bonnie Littlewood.

“When he first came out of the mine, he had to blink his way into the light,” says Wendy. “He hadn’t seen much sun and wasn’t used to it. The change in pace also took some adjustment.”

Now, Sparky’s life consists of staying out in a field overnight and spending his morning in the stable eating oats and barley, and meeting visitors.

The oldest pony in the museum, he is something of a living legend. “He’s a real charmer,” says Wendy. “It takes a while for him to warm to someone but once he does, he’s your friend for life. He’s stubborn and knows his own mind. He’s a real Victor Meldrew. But eventually, if you’re patient, he comes round.

“And he likes women. The gentle touch is what works with him. If you shout at him you have no chance.”

 

Published by Susanna Forrest

Author of The Age of the Horse: an Equine Journey Through Human History and If Wishes Were Horses: A Memoir of Equine Obsession.

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4 Comments

  1. There are still a few Pit Ponies around. Jake, Dylan and Spike are retired at the Pit Pony Sanctuary, Pontypridd. They worked in the small private coal mines in South Wales.

      1. Jake & Dylan were rented Pit Ponies. £25 per week and worked in many collieries. Jake last worked at Craig-y-Llyn over looking Glyneath in the upper Swansea Valley. Dylan worked at Pentwyn No3 at Goderagraig. Spike came from a colliery the other side of Swansea and we have never had full details of him. http://www.pitponies.co.uk has details of some of the other ponies we have with us. http://www.sponsorapony.co.uk has details of some of the ponies on our sponsorship scheme including the three Pit Ponies.

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