Hats off to Falkirk Community Trust and other partners – including BHS Scotland – who pulled off a unique event last weekend at the Helix Park, in the shadow of Andy Scott’s kelpies.

It was a unique event that brought horses and ponies to the people in a safe, nostalgic, magical and accessible way.

Given that 2017 is designated the ‘Year of history, heritage and archaeology’ to celebrate Scotlands unique history and heritage, the programme of activity was 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 day-long event had a programme that ranged from the truly modern – an artist imitating an annoying horse fly in the reeds and artistic performances from UZ Arts, where the roles were reversed and people pulled the horses in a carriage (all made up from young actors in amusing costume).

Another 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 a beautiful unicorn, or the quadrille which turned the heads of all when the universally popular song, ‘Let it go’ from Disney’s Frozen, underpinned a colourful finale.

Then there was 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. It was a unique privilege to see in this day and age.

Police horses were there, getting up close and personal and proved the icing on the cake for many of 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 13-15,000 people took in the event) 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 us of the vibrancy of our sector and the need for 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. This truly was the sort of day that money could not buy.

Besides living in a fairy tale land, BHS Scotland undertakes some serious arguments on behalf of Scottish riders and one of our on-going and latest challenges seems to be to stop Scotland being tarred as paths surfaces seem to increasingly be black topped in favour of the cyclist and in our opinion to the detriment of the environment, the landscape and human health.

To us it is a tragedy when time worn old grass tracks that have sustained multi-use for decades are tarred with aggregate. This has to be wrong on so many fronts – the restorative properties that an enticing old grass path gives to the variety of walkers, cyclists and horse riders who might use it are legend and loved over ‘a pavement in the countryside’.

Maybe it’s people of a certain age who have bad knees who want to walk on vegetation and not tar, but it certainly is horses too and the BHS will fight for our green surfaces. Where would the fairies and unicorns live if we tar all our beautiful places anyway?