Beloved horse retires from Dudley museum

Black Country Living Museum’s Danny, who is 22 years old and has been at the Museum for eight and a half years, has retired after bringing a smile to the faces of hundreds of thousands of visitors.

Following a successful racing career in the gypsy community, statuesque Danny, who stands at 17 hands high, has been an important part of the Museum’s storytelling, helping to share with visitors how horses were the backbone of Black Country industry throughout the Industrial Revolution.

During the 18th and 19th centuries ‘pit ponies’ could be found in the region’s coal mines, working below ground on the haulage ways or above ground transporting coal. Horse boating ‘on the cut’ was also a common sight, with horses hauling narrowboats laden with freight.

Unlike his ancestors, Danny has enjoyed a more relaxed career at the Museum, cared for by his dedicated handlers, Michelle Darby and Chris Turton, with support from the animal care team.

Michelle and Chris said:

“It’s a bittersweet moment to say farewell to one of the most beloved members of our Museum family. After capturing the hearts of young and old alike with his gentle spirit and majestic presence, Danny will forever hold a special place in all of our hearts.

“It has been an absolute privilege to work with him. He has looked after us more than we have looked after him. He is one of the best.”

While most often pulling a carriage through the Museum’s historic streets, over the years Danny has had various starring roles, including portraying a British cavalry horse at Remembrance Sundays.

He also took part in wedding, funeral and May Queen processions, the Museum’s Jubilee and Coronation celebrations, and the baton relay for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.

Danny was also a popular fixture in the Museum’s Access Tours, where visitors were invited to learn more about a day in his life, feel different tack, hold his horse brasses and help give him a groom.

Since just after his arrival at the Museum, Danny’s stablemate has been 12-year-old Charlie, who has also brought joy to visitors and staff alike. Charlie is now joined by five-year-old Henry, who is now a permanent member of the Museum team after Charlie gave him his ‘neigh’ of approval after a trial period.

If you have any photos of Danny that you would like to share with us, please tag our social media accounts or share on our pages.

Animal handlers Chris and Michelle with Charlie (left) and Danny (right).

Danny takes part in the Commonwealth Games 2022 Baton Relay.

Chris and Michelle with, from left, Danny, Charlie and Henry.