Hats off to Falkirk Community Trust and other partners (including BHS Scotland), who pulled off an exceptional event at the Helix Park in the shadow of Andy Scott’s Kelpies, that brought horses and ponies to the people in a safe, nostalgic, magical and accessible way.
2017 has been designated the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology, a year to celebrate Scotland’s unique history and heritage with a programme of activity aimed at supporting and driving the nation’s tourism and events sector. And where better to celebrate the contribution of the horse to the prosperity of Scotland than alongside the industrial landscape of the canals and mines with the shining statues of shape shifting water horses as back drop.
The daylong event had a programme that ranged from truly modern fairy tales to the traditional equestrian heritage. Artistic highlight included Francois Chaussebourg‘s ‘Ma Bete Noire’ captivating and dramatic French play featuring a well-trained Friesian Stallion and his dancer rider in a love hate relationship. There was the beautiful unicorn, or the quadrille which turned the heads of all when the universally popular song “Let of Go” from Disney’s Frozen underpinned a colourful finale. Then the sort of heritage we are all more used to in BHS Scotland – our horse loggers, the Clydesdales demonstrating the heritage of the horse in farming, travel and industry as Benny Duncan and the Balmalcolm horses towed a barge along the Union Canal – a unique privilege to see in this day and age. Police horses getting up close and personal were the icing on the cake for the public.
More than any other event we have been part of in the last two decades, ‘horsepower’ - held in the heart of the central belt and run to a stringent risk assessment - brought equines and people together in an exemplary fun and educational way. The weather, the location, the crowds (it is estimated that between 13 and 15 thousand people visited) all conspired to reignite so many with our human inherent love of; and the pure magic of the horse. Carriage rides and pony rides were open to all (although the queues were so long that -with horse and pony welfare in mind – many people were disappointed.) If there was ever an event to remind is of the vibrancy of our sector and the need for the local riding stables – then this was it. A traditional carousel; so colourful with horses flying to the music of a hurdy-gurdy; straight out of Mary Poppins, was busy all day too. This truly was the sort of day that money simply cannot buy.