This photo was taken at Netherton in the 1930s. They're obviously getting the pony used to the harness and pulling the weight of a loaded tub. The pony isn't ready to be taken underground yet because it still has a full tail. All the working pit ponies had their tails docked and manes hogged, clipping the long hair off to avoid the risk of it getting caught in machinery.
Getting the ponies ready to be taken underground must have needed a lot of training before they were first taken down the pit so that they wouldn't panic in the cage going down the shaft. I was once told that in the earliest days pit ponies used to be lowered down the shaft in nets. The Netherton ponies were brought back up at the end of each shift and stabled in the pit yard. The pitmen who worked with the ponies were very fond of them.
© Copyright Â©2008 Carole Sage. All rights reserved.