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.”