Recently BHS Scotland had the wonderful privilege of being the guest of the Lord Provost of Edinburgh at a civic reception and ceremony at the Mercat Cross to return the colours of Edinburgh following the riding of the marches.

The event commemorates the tradition of inspecting the city's boundaries and re-enacts the Captain of the Trained Band's return to the city with the tragic news of defeat at the Battle of Flodden in 1513. He carried the “blue blanket” the battle flag of the Edinburgh trades which forms the background colours of our Saltire. The Riding of the Marches can be traced back to at least 1579.

Apart from the British Horse Society, the event included the incorporated trades of Edinburgh (of course, getting their flags back), the Exiles Society, pipe bands and brass bands, The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, and no less than 250 horse riders cavalcading up the Royal Mile and it was just grand to see the horse at the heart of such an historic event witnessed by thousands of spectators.

It was extra special for us as the Edinburgh Lass Abbie McDowall is the chief instructor of the BHS-approved Tower Farm Riding school, and we also saw the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards mounted on the Scots Greys from Tower leading the parade. From time to time The BHS and Tower Farm deliver spurs courses – run by Patrick Print FBHS – taking soldiers from non-rider to rider (gaining a BHS qualification on the way) in five days. The Dragoons were historically famous for their grey horses and their ferocity in combat. They captured the eagle and standard of the French 45th Regiment of the Line, a feat that was immortalised in paintings and poems, playing a significant role in the Allied victory over Napolean at Waterloo. More recently Scots DG carried out a watering order around city streets when they wanted to prepare the Tower greys for ceremonial duties at the castle or Holyrood.

We need more horses back in our cities all the time there is no reason why our traditional Scottish breeds like Clydesdales cannot bring the clip-clop of hooves back to a city like Edinburgh on a daily basis, in Europe there are plenty of examples of horsepower delivering services including refuse collection, deliveries and working in vineyards and on farms. Look at the reverence in which the Police Scotland Mounted Branch is held.

In the BHS we are still having to fight for equines to be officially included in active travel in Scotland as a realistic mode of transport while it is obvious (not just from our history) that they should be. As HAC UK says a national, sustainable, inclusive, safe equestrian active travel network could have immense value to the health and well-being of everyone. Equestrians do have equal rights to other users in terms of road safety and access to safe off-road riding in Scotland under the Land Reform Act. Horse riding and carriage driving contribute by providing low carbon everyday functional journeys every day!

When Scottish inventor James Watt coined the phrase horsepower to measure the output of his steam engine in the 1700s, he little knew about how horsepower would be hijacked by carbon-emitting petrol heads. It's time for society to build on our glorious traditions and bring back the spectacle of the cavalcade. Being realistic it might initially be for jobs around town and tourism projects but using horsepower would be a start. Is dung a problem? – no? It ties up carbon and can be used on the roses.