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Antarctic conservation

2 Posts tagged with the ponies tag

Hoofbeats on Ice

Posted by Conservators Aug 15, 2012

Author: Susanne

Date: Wednesday 8thst August 2012

Temperature: -34 deg C

Wind Speed: 5 knots

Temp with wind chill: -75 deg C

Sunrise: n/a

Sunset n/a


Since the age of three, I grew up riding horses and quickly gained an appreciation for the gentle yet strong traits that these animals possess. Looking at images of the Manchurian ponies that were hand selected for the early Antarctic expeditions, reminded me of my own pony Goldie that has long passed on.


The first expedition to take ponies to the Ross Sea region was Shackleton’s Nimrod expedition. After choosing 10 Manchurian ponies, Shackleton and his crew set sail for New Zealand and then Antarctica, concluding a several month long journey in their stalls in stormy seas.  Scott’s Ponies on Board the Terra Nova


Upon arrival, the ponies were unloaded using a specially constructed box. They quickly adapted to their new home and stables were built to house them at Cape Royds. Scott also built stables at Cape Evans. Shackleton describes their diet in the “Heart of the Antarctic” as fodder, corn, and a specially purchased pemmican called Maujee rations.


While the ponies were an important part of the South Pole exploration stories, they weren’t as successful as Shackleton and Scott had hoped in reaching the South Pole. I am fortunate enough to be retelling their story through the conservation of several artefacts that were used to care for the ponies.


During the conservation treatment of several small iron horseshoes, I came across a rather large horseshoe that was different in shape and size to the others. I started to imagine why it was there and what it was used for. Perhaps they brought a variety of shoe sizes for the horses?


Image 2-Horseshoes.jpg

Small and Large Horseshoes from Cape Evans. Credit: AHT/Susanne


Another really interesting object is this curry comb. There are several steps to grooming a horse or pony and the curry comb helped to reach dirt and debris that was trapped further down in their coat. This comb still has the pony hair and dirt trapped in the teeth. One of the challenges we face as conservators is how to retain that evidence while still preserving the artefact underneath.

Image 3-Curry Comb.jpg

Curry Comb from Cape Evans. Credit: AHT/Susanne


What do you consider to be important to keep?


Cape Royds

Posted by Cricket and Diana Nov 30, 2010

Posted by Diana


Date: November 25, 2010
Temperature: - 6 degrees  c
Wind Speed: 5 knots
Sunrise: Sun is up


We have been working at Cape Royds on the hut built in February 1908 by the British Antarctic (Nimrod) Expedition of 1907-09, which was led by Sir Ernest Shackleton. It was also periodically used by the Ross Sea Party of Shackleton’s Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition of 1914-1917.


Royds in Snow - Circa 1908 Photographer unknown © Alexander Turnbull Library


It is a lovely setting for a hut, nested in hills of volcanic rock which have been scoured by glaciers and the harsh Antarctic weather.

PB180111 Stables.jpg

Metal cladding on Stables © AHT/Diana


When we have visitors to the site one of the questions frequently asked is why is there metal sheeting on the side of the building?  It is hard to tell but this area used to be the stables. If the visitor looks closely they will see the feed troughs. Shackleton had taken ten white Manchurian ponies to Antarctica because they were know to work well in cold conditions and it was hoped they would be of great assistance in sledging to the South Pole. The stable walls were constructed of wooden cases filled with food and the roof was canvas, with sledges used over the top to assist in supporting the roof. The metal sheets were put up to protect the wooden cladding on the hut from the ponies kicking. Today the canvas is gone but some of the cases and the feed troughs remain.

PB240164 Troughs.jpg

Feed troughs in Stables area © AHT/Diana