K.M. Peyton’s tale Pony in the Dark tells of a young boy named Tom who lives in the harsh conditions of the Shetland Isles, raising ponies with his family as a means of income. The family struggles to just get by and although colts that are bred on the farm are often sold, Tom is devastated to find that his favourite young colt will be sold when he’s old enough.
At a young age Tom travels with the colt he’s named Storm, to see where his future will be once sold. His concern for the young colt is heightened as it appears that Storm will be used as a pit pony, working down in the mines, never to see daylight again.
Once Tom has reached his teens, he will need to make a choice about what he will do as work: fishing in harsh conditions at home, or in the mines in harsh conditions away from home. Torn between two unappealing choices, young Tom decides he might as well learn about the mines and see where Storm could be working.
The mining environment leaves Tom with a feeling of despair for his favourite equine friend. He questions how Storm could lead such a life when Tom himself shudders in fear at the thought of a life of working in a dark, hot and confined area.
Pony in the Dark depicts well the story of a young boy and horse that don’t appear to have much choice about their future. When all seems lost, Tom accepts what appears to be a bleak future. The young teen finds that things don’t always have to stay as they appear and is able to welcome the idea of a promising future he’d never considered – for himself and for Storm.
“I pray gentle hands may guide my feet; I ask for kind commands from voices sweet; at night a stable warm with scented hay, where, safe from every harm, I’ll sleep till day.” – Pony’s prayer