There are six stamps in the set, one each representing The King’s Troup Ceremonial Horses, Royal Mews Carriage Horses, Riding for the Disabled Association, Dray Horses, Police Horses, and Forestry Horses. Fells and Dales are mentioned in the Forestry Horses category: “Stocky breeds, such as the Dales and Fell Pony, as well as larger draught horses, excel at this sort of work.” Two other rare breeds are mentioned in this category: “It also offers breeds at risk, such as the Clydesdale and the Suffolk Punch, a way back to safety by providing a role for the future.”
As a pony enthusiast I was pleased to see ponies depicted throughout the cover booklet, including on the RDA stamp. Shetlands and Welsh Cobs are specifically called out on the spectrum of working horse sizes. What appears to be a large pony is also shown on a tow path drawing a boat on a canal.
I was most struck by the confident assertion that equines will continue to play a role in human culture just as they have for more than 6,000 years. “Through changing ages, the role of the horse has varied and new roles always develop. In human history, the horse is rarely far away from the main events, no matter what the culture, time or situation.” This statement got me wondering what role might be on the near horizon.
In the Fell Pony community, we talk about the advent of recreational riding and driving following previous roles as fundamental motive power, in the mines and as pack ponies for instance. Maybe it’s just where I sit, but it seems possible that the therapeutic role might be expanding beyond just with the disabled. I’m intrigued by how people are using equines in leadership coaching (for more info, click here) as well as with veterans (for more info, click here), troubled youth (for an example, click here), and the disadvantaged (for an example, click here).
It is of course really only in hindsight that we can definitively describe ‘the role of the horse.’ I appreciate the Royal Mail’s decision to commemorate the working horse and identify the many current ways that ‘work’ manifests. And I’m very thankful to have received these stamps as a gift!
© Jenifer Morrissey, 2014