Christie, BJ 1995. The Horses of Sable Island. Pottersfield Press, Lawrencetown Beach, Nova Scotia. 111 pages.

Excerpt (description of shipping horses off Sable Island), page 53:

“The round-ups which commonly occurred twice a year, were a busy and exhausting time for all. August 22, 1842 – “All hands after horses. We had a great deal of running today and only got five. We kept them in the pound all night.” The long chases up hill and down in the deep sandy going, [type of surface travelled] often ruined or lamed the riding horses. One loss is recorded when 64 head of “wild horses” were driven and shipped on July 27, 1895. Boutilier enters in his journal, “Pony Burglar died at No.3 [station] from excessive running, which resulted in spasmodic colic.”

Once the horses were in the pound, the dangerous task of selection began. During the later years the method used was a looped lasso on the end of a long pole. The loop was dropped over the head of a horse and the line was taken up by the men, whose unfortunate job it was to bring the animal out. Milling horses and flying hooves took their toll and the superintendents were frequently called upon to make running repairs on their men. September 4, 1891 – “Stephen Smallcombe got his leg badly damaged while snaring ponies in the pound.”

Once the selection was made, those chosen were retained in the pound, while their more fortunate brethren were released. If they were to be shipped immediately they were roped in a very painful but effective manner so as to insure their moving forward.

When the animals neared the waiting surf boats, each was thrown and all four legs were tied together, then heaved onto a four-handled stretcher or “pony barrow” and from this slid into a surf boat. Then, with five or six others taken out to the transport vessel anchored offshore.

During the middle 1800s the horses were hoisted aboard the vessels by slings; in later years they were simply lifted aboard by their tied feet, but slings were used to bring them ashore at Halifax. Considerable care was taken when the legs were first tied to keep damage to a minimum. A soft rope padding was used and a special method of roping.”