Cape Breton's Magazine

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Page 40 - Horses in the Coal Mines

Published by Ronald Caplan on 1982/8/1 (367 reads)

till damn near dark that night. And probab? ly got very little time for to eat his din? ner. They worked long days too, sometimes. Of course then there'd be probably months in the wintertime when the farm horse wouldn't do anything. (And that's hard on the horse, too.) That's right. It's much better for them to be working continuously, sure. I never had any bad accident, no. But the years I was head stableman, we had a lot of them. And that was my job, would be to destroy them. If they broke their leg or anything, you know. It happened quite fre? quently. They'd break their leg--a turnoff or something--they'd find out they're not able to hold the box. And a lot of times it was really the driver's fault that he didn't put a sprag in the wheels--you put a short stick of timber in the wheel. That means that that wheel doesn't turn, so it holds the box back. So if he came to the top of the grade and he didn't put the sprag in, by the time he'd get around to putting it in, the horse is gone over the grade. The horse finds out then that he can't hold it, and he turns sideways; and when he does, over he goes. That's more or less the driver's fault. Sometimes you had a lot of drivers that were inexperienced themselves, and didn't realize what could happen. (Did you ever have them, that min? ers just didn't care?) Well, I mean, what the hell, sure. I went down one night--they called me from home here to go out--there was a big gray horse there. A fellow who drove him left the horse on the empty road. I know he did. I found out afterwards. When I went down, the horse was standing there with his leg broke off, between his fetlock and his knee. The trip came in and hit him. See, the driver left him on what's called the lower road, where the trip came in. The chain runner from the outside end, he shifted the switch. The horse, it's got to run in pretty snappy, because it drags the rope, it's fastened on to it and drags in. The trip went in a little bit farther than usual, and that horse was left standing in the dark. And of course, he couldn't see the trip coming. And he got it on the shins, bumper of the box, broke it. It was neglect, certainly. You weren't there to see what happened, and they would argue a- gainst it. Lots of time I saw that hap? pened. But what could you do about it? Archie MacDonald, Florence: I'll tell you a story about the horses. The horses in Florence colliery one time, and in most of the collieries, were badly used. Now it wasn't that they were poorly fed or any? thing, but they were overworked, A good horse, she'd work on the day shift. And the drivers were a contrary crowd, a lot of them, and they pretty well ran the pit. You couldn't get along without them. If they had dug in their heels about some- A SHOP FOR CAPE BRETONERS AND THEIR FRIENDS Island Crafts will delight you with the outstanding se? lection of beautifully dis? played gifts. Each item has been carefully handcrafted on Cape Breton by one of our local artists. ISLAND CRAFTS '''' Come in and browse through our delightful children's room, try on a fashionable handknit sweater or examine the workmanship of our col? ourful quilts, hand woven items and unique pottery. We know you'll be pleased to take home any of our Cape Breton memories on display. CHRISTMAS ROOM YEAR ROUND Monday - Saturday, 9-5 Layaways & Gift Certificates Island Crafts 329 Charlotte St., Sydney, Nova Scotia Phone: (902) 539-6474 or 564-5527 Stubbert's ODnvenience Stores Main St., Sydney Mines 736-6300 Peirce St., North Sydney 794-7085 Groceries, Magazines, Lottery Tickets, Giftware Qualified Dispensers Always in Attendance OWL DRUG STORE Daniel T. McKeough, Proprietor Convalescent and Sick Room Supplies Sales & Rental Drug Siindries and Cosmetics Located on Commercial Street, or write to P.O.Box 125 794-3611 North Sydney ALWAYS AT YOUR SERVICB (40)
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