A pony sanctuary in Wales appeals for sponsors for former pit ponies

The Fforest Uchaf Horse and Pony Centre is putting out a fresh appeal to help it look after some of the pit ponies in its care.

One of the nine ponies, 28-year-old Blackie, worked all his life hauling coal from the pitch black of the coalface to the surface Carn Cornel Coliery in the Neath Valley in Wales. When not working Blackie spent his time shut in an old railway goods wagon.

Blackie was one of the last pit ponies to be retired in 1998. Two more stopped working in 2000.

But Roy Peckham, who runs the centre, near Pontypridd in Wales, is concerned it could all start up again : “It’s not illegal.While it’s not economical to mine coal underground at the moment, it could be in the future – and pit ponies are a cheap way of doing it.”

Blackie knees are swollen, he has poor hearing and eyesight and he has coal dust in his lungs. But Roy says he is enjoying his retirement.” He’s lovely and so friendly,” he says.

There are another 26 horses and ponies at the centre, a number of which could be rehomed.

“Around four or five of those will need special homes and a lot of care as they have been abused. Their psychological scars will stay with them for ever,” says Roy.

If you want to support one of the pit ponies or could rehome one of the other horses and ponies (tel:01443 480327) or visit www.pitponies.co.uk