Four main types of injuries pit ponies incurred:
Painful scruffing of their heads against low beams which ripped the flesh and required the vet to stitch it up, sometimes even inserting a steel plate.
Injuries because of hastily pre-pared roadbeds — horse’s feet would get stuck and coal boxes would run into them and break their legs.
Injuries caused by the tight spaces — horses rubbed their shoulders raw until they festered. Believe it or not the most effective treatment would be coating them with kerosene oil. This resulted in many more horses being saved.
Greatest danger to horses - pulling the coal cars downhill. More humane and sensible drivers ‘spragged the wheel’ by placing a short pole between the iron spokes of one wheel for braking. A broken neck or broken legs were often avoided by doing this.