The National Coal Mining Museum for England has given two rescued Welsh ponies, Eric and Ernie, safe new homes after they were abandoned.
They are kept company by Finn, a Clydesdale heavy horse, a breed which is at risk of extinction, and Bud, a blue and white cob. Together, they help to honour the memories of the pit ponies that once lived and worked here at Caphouse Colliery and the other mines across England’s coalfields.
Eric is a Welsh pony. He was born in 2004 and stands 12.2 hands high. He is bay in colour.
Eric arrived here at the Museum in 2007 with his friend Ernie. He was abandoned on winter grazing in a coalfield area of Wales by his owner, and was rescued subsequently by the RSPCA. Eric is a smart little pony who is quick to learn. He is the strong, silent type and takes most things in his stride. Whilst at the Museum, he has learned to pull an exercise cart and has been broken to ride. He often goes out to local events to promote the Museum and raise money for our Pony Appeal.
Ernie is also a Welsh pony. He was born in 2004 and stands 12.2 hands high. He is bay in colour.
Ernie is a very cheeky pony indeed. He loves attention and likes to show off to his adoring fans. Ernie came to the Museum in 2007 with his friend Eric, following their rehabilitation with the RSPCA. Like Eric, Ernie has never worked in a coal mine, but had the two ponies been born a century earlier, they would more than likely have been employed as pit ponies in the deep mines of their native Wales. Our original pit pony harnesses fit them as if they were made for them.
Finn is a Clydesdale horse. He was born in 2008 and stands around 17.2 hands high, although he may grown a little more once he is fully mature. He is brown in colour.
Finn joined the Museum in April 2010. He is very friendly, loves attention and in between taking a nap, he likes to watch everything that goes on in the stable yard! He has never worked in a coal mine, but horses of his size and type were once used in the mining industry to pull heavy loads of coal and to move materials. Finn has been broken to ride and drive during his time at the Museum. He now works well in harness, learning about logging and pulling the chain harrows in the fields. He is also ridden both on and off the Museum site and really enjoys hacking around the local countryside with our Horsekeepers.
Bud has never worked in a coalmine, but ponies of his size and type worked underground in deep mines pulling tubs full of coal from the coal face to the pit bottom and moving supplies. Ponies of Bud’s type would have lived their lives underground and would have only returned to the surface for an annual holiday or during long strikes.
Bud came to live at the Museum in May 2017. He was born in a mining area, very close to former Trimdon colliery, Durham. On his travels, he also lived in another mining area, Doncaster in South Yorkshire. He came to us at the age of 4. At this age he would have been ready to start his working life as a pit pony.