It’s slightly odd, Scotland has a Unicorn as their national emblem – what country has a mythical creature as their animal of choice? Well, there is a rational reason behind it…
Let’s start with a little history lesson shall we – are you all sitting comfortably? Then we can begin…. Scotland and England hated each other and were always at odds. Edinburgh was built, a walled city with Nor Loch on its northern boundary, largely to keep the pesky English at bay. Now, around about 1200 odd, England and Scotland were really heating things up, with The First War of Scottish independence. (Scottish history is awesome to read – lots of bloody battles, heroes and villains, brave acts and treachery…. One of my favorite things is the word Caledonia – what the Romans called the Scots. Literally meaning calluses – the Scots were called the Land of people with Callused feet).
England had their lion – their all-powerful, brave and noble national animal to lead them into battle. But Scotland had a guy called William Wallace, a fierce and fearless warrior. And he (as I remember it, I stand to be corrected by an actual historian) said (I’m paraphrasing here…) Hey, guys – I have a unicorn. Hmmm….. Pretty in pink, with a flowing rainbow mane? Taking me into battle? Uh, no. I have a unicorn – a fearless and fierce creature, who eats…? What do unicorns eat? Lions. He rallied the troops and defeated England (they went back and forth for a few hundred years), all following their flags of unicorns or lions.
And why am I writing this? Wallace gave the people something to believe in. He gave them a touch stone, a symbol, a cause to get behind. By giving them a unicorn to believe in, he gave them a power to overcome the lion. When a belief is strong enough, it can overcome almost anything.
Abuse in the horse world is rife at the moment. There are such big issues – rollkur of dressage horses, tight nosebands, blue tongues, draw reins, soring of saddlebreds, Premarin, donkey skinning, the C6 / C7 malformation in (largely) competition bred horse, neglect of working animals, and and and, the list grows and grows. It’s easy to believe that we cannot ever win. The lions are overrunning us. I admit, there are times when I think, bugger it, I’m giving up horses and taking up knitting instead. The mountain is too high to climb and there are not enough of us shouting out from the rooftops.
But you know what? There are people with unicorns. More and more people are coming to the foreground and speaking up. To name a few – Sharon May Davis is doing astonishing research and training on the C6 / C7 malformation which is huge. Temple Grandin is an American professor of animal sciences, who is changing how many farmed animal practices are approached. Animal Aid Abroad is a huge veterinary based charity who steps into poverty-stricken areas. Prince Fluffy Kareem in Egypt, Horses of Gili in Indonesia, Hole in the Wall horse project in South Africa, are all on the ground, hands on, welfare groups making big changes. People like Stride Free and Balance saddlery are changing the whole idea behind saddle fit. Bomber making horse friendly bits. Mary Wanless with her Ride with Your Mind is shifting rider’s perspectives. Dr Sue Dyson and the Animal Heath Trust is showing us more and more about lameness issues. Dr Hilary Clayton, teaching about equine biomechanics among other things. The list is long, and it’s growing.
There are people out there with unicorns. They have found something to believe in and are using their belief to make things better. I have friends who own a UK tack shop, called Seriously Tacky. They provide a service called Whole Horse Happiness, but their tag line is, “Changing the World One Horse at a Time”. I like that, it’s something I can back. We will probably, sadly, never unite behind a unicorn and run into battle (Now that is a challenge, please invite me if anyone does this) but, we can change the world for one horse, if we believe we can…
Have you found your unicorn? If you have, or know about an awesome cause doing good work, let me know!
Sharon May Davis https://www.equinestudies.nl/en/team-members/sharon-may-davis/
Temple Grandin https://www.templegrandin.com/
Animal aid abroad https://www.animalaidabroad.org/
Prince Fluffy Kareem https://www.princefluffykareem.co.uk/
Horses of Gili http://www.horsesofgili.com/
Stride free https://www.kmeliteproducts.co.uk/stride-free
Bomber bits http://www.bombers.co.za/
Mary Wanless http://www.mary-wanless.com/
Dr Sue Dyson https://www.aht.org.uk/
Dr Hilary Clayton https://www.horsemagazine.com/thm/whos-who/clayton-dr-hilary/
Seriously Tacky https://www.seriouslytacky.co.uk/