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Ponies at The National Coal Mining Museum
Meet our very own resident celebrities!
While on your underground tour here at the National Coal Mining Museum you may see a couple of pit ponies down there with you, they are not actually real. You can, however, visit the Stable Yard from 10am – 3pm and say hello to our ponies Eric, Ernie, Bud and Finn our gentle Clydesdale horse, or visit them in the fields of the Museum site as they stretch their legs.
This is Finn, the biggest of our horses, measuring a whopping 18.2 hands (Clydesdale’s usually grow to around 18 hands!). Despite his size, Finn is affectionately known here as the ‘gentle giant’ due to his friendly temperament with staff and visitors. Bred for temperament, size and strength, horses like Finn would usually have been used to work above ground for delivering coal, shunting on the railways and helping with agriculture. In some areas, mines did actually have high roadways, allowing horses as big as Finn to work underground along with the smaller ponies.
Today, Clydesdale’s are more commonly used as riding horses and can even be found in the show ring where ridden classes are becoming popular with heavy horse enthusiasts.
Next up is Bud, our small ‘Cob’ and the newest addition to the Museum’s equine collection having arrived in May 2017 at 4 years old. While this may seem very young, at that age back when horses were used underground, Bud would have been ready to start his working life as a pit pony! Luckily for him though, you’ll usually find Bud taking a laying down and taking a nap in his stable – a far cry from what he would have been doing 100 years ago!
Here are Eric and Ernie, our Welsh mountain ponies, who arrived at the Museum back in 2007. Unfortunately, Eric and Ernie had a rough start to life, having been abandoned by their owner on winter grazing land in Wales when they were very young. Luckily, the RSPCA were called and rescued the ponies in April 2006, after which they were put up for adoption and came to live here at the Museum.
Although Ernie is very popular with our visitors, he can be a little nervous of new situations – something that would have likely made him unsuitable for working as a pit pony in the years past.
Adopt a Pony
For the animal lovers out there, then why not join our popular ‘Adopt a Pony’ scheme? It’s perfect for those of you who want to help support the Museum, and also works great as a gift for people of all ages! Click here to find out more.
To discover more about the long history of pit ponies, come to the Museum, head to the Stable Yard and say hello to our horse keepers as well as Finn, Bud, Eric and Ernie!
Teachers will find that a trip to the stables will help their class get a tangible understanding of:
Key Stage One (KS1)
- English – spoken language
- History -local study
Key Stage Two (KS2)
- English – spoken language
- History -local study – Victorians
Key Stage Three (KS3)
- English – spoken language, vocabulary development
- History – Industrial Revolution, Local study
Pony Discovery Centre
From 19 May 2021
Thanks to funding from the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development the ponies will soon be moving to a brand new Pony Discovery Centre in the Hope Pit part of the site.
You will be able to step inside our new Pony Discovery Centre to meet our three ponies and Clydesdale horse. Discover how the story of ponies and horses has been entwined with that of coal mining for many centuries. Why were they brought into the mines? What roles did they have? What was life like for them underground? You’ll get to see historic films, chat to experienced horsekeepers and try our interactive activities.