A trip last weekend to Falkirk’s Helix Park, home of The Kelpies, would certainly have scorched any suggestion that the general public has little or no interest in horses as thousands flocked to the venue to learn a little bit more about Scotland’s equine heritage.

Titled ‘Horsepower’, it was funded as part of Event ‘Scotland’s Year of history, heritage and archaeology’ and made possible by a great many volunteers who helped make the day both a safe and enjoyable one for the visitors.

Special mention must go to the invaluable support provided by BHS Scotland. Free admission, good weather, an interesting and varied programme of events, The Kelpies themselves and,of course, access to horses were all contributory factors to the success of this event.

Suffice to say that the extensive programme certainly fitted Event Scotland’s brief. However, two specific aspects of the day had a personal impact for me. The first of these was to be seen at every turn where public and equines met.

As one who experiences the magic of horses and ponies much of the time, it was humbling to say the least to observe that same magic casting its spell on every day people, children in particular, whose access is normally limited to images.

It was abundantly clear that the close encounter experienced at Horsepower would be one they would never forget.

It not only said much for the horses and ponies that they acclimatised to the occasion so readily and so willingly, but also spoke volumes for their owners and minders who seemed to go out of their way to be helpful as they shared their equines in such an enthusiastic way with an inexperienced, and dare I say, ignorant public.

Secondly, as someone who is in total awe of The Kelpies themselves, I was reminded of the vision of their creator, Andy Scott, who saw them as something which brought to life both local and national equine history and who, in his words, saw the Clydesdale as ‘the powerhouses of the early industrial revolution, the tractors of early agriculture and of course, the first source of locomotion for barges on the Forth and Clyde canal’.

To observe the Clydesdale in its many working roles at The Helix, I am sure he would have been well pleased with the story which was enacted on the day within the gaze of his fabulous creations.

The story of the Clydesdale doesn’t end there. Its history and industry didn’t fully encompass the experience for visitors to Horsepower – it was far greater and had impact in bucket loads.

The wonderful temperament of these giants of the equine world was very obvious from the way the they reacted with the public to the extent that it was possible to forget all the potential dangers surrounding animals with the power to create chaos should they wish.

Careful planning ensured it didn’t and it was a treat to see them perform willingly and placidly in their many roles from the those pulling the canal boat to the foal with its dam billeted near The Kelpies.

Falkirk Community Trust has also to be congratulated for having the foresight to stage such a successful event, something which the various horse and pony groups in Scotland have failed to bring together so far.

Perhaps the success of Horsepower will provide a spring-board for a future development, but it won’t be for the faint-hearted nor the idle as it would take a great deal of planning and work.

There is the inevitable spectre of funding and the venue itself would prove critical – the obvious lack of parking at The Helix demonstrated this. The Royal Highland Showground, at Ingliston, with its excellent transport links, is an obvious one, should the RHAS choose to play ball.

The vision behind The Kelpies also included a celebration of modern times and the remarkable feat of engineering involved in their manufacture. As a special feature landmark for Scotland, in terms of importance, they stand alongside a relatively near neighbour, the recently opened Queensferry Crossing.

As one of those selected to walk across the new bridge, as much as I was impressed by the structure, I can’t say I was overawed by the bridge itself. However, I was more than impressed by the high level of organisation surrounding the two-day event.

Again, a large but pleasant crowd of people produced a wonderful atmosphere and the charm offensive genuinely offered by the helpers and volunteers was very evident.

Although I was aware that several other pony friends were timetabled for the walk, none coincided with mine, so it was all the more surprising when I heard the comment, ‘Didn’t I see you stewarding at Blair?’ What a small world.

This was a competitor who was on the walk along with her family, one of whom just happened to be one of the engineers responsible for its construction.

If that wasn’t sufficient, while tucking into a coffee and scones later in the afternoon at a local hotel, another voice rang out across the room, ‘Did you enjoy the crossing?’ No pony connection this time but one of the painters who was part of the last fix before opening.

Chance encounters followed when I became engaged in conversation with the piper who was part of a wedding party at the hotel; no ordinary piper but one of six ‘lone’ pipers who appeared at the Edinburgh Tattoo this year.

Interestingly, the aforementioned hotel was the former home of the famous Transy Stud whose Shetland ponies are known the world over and founded in 1896 by William Mungall.

I am sure he would have been taken aback, if not appalled, by the Shetland pony representing the breed at Horsepower as part of the rare breeds parade. It was a game little pony but more obese than any equine I have witnessed for a long time.

Apparently, it was a former rescue case and the fact that it had shed half its body weight with its present owner was no excuse for its current size and a very bad image to place before the public.

Staying with the breed and public image, heads have been turned for not the best of reasons throughout the season by a small Shetland pony which has been ridden by an adult.

While the pony itself is very attractive and a good little goer, the image presented by its over-sized rider certainly isn’t and one which has caused much discussion among the judges.

Given that the breed boasts ‘starter’ status for many well-known equestrian families, The Royal no less, its suitability has been founded on little children and not large ones or adults so why let over-competitiveness spoil the image?

It reminded me of my boyhood days when my 12.2hh pony used to pull a small two-wheeled flat cart, which in reality took no pulling whatsoever.

It was while travelling through the local mining village that a cry came out for my dad, who was driving while perched on the side of the float. “Tam, is it no time you jumped aff and you pulled the pony?” Need I say more?