I wasn’t like the other horses in my family. They say it was because my mother escaped to the mountains one night, when the moon was full and magical beings were dancing in the glow of its silver light.
Although she was recaptured after her adventure our owners weren’t pleased. She had a long pedigree, and had been carefully mated with the sire to produce the perfect off-spring for the breeders.
My siblings were all purebreds with traceable bloodlines and both parents registered in the stud book. They had been reared for racing, were worth a fortune, and even when they retired the stallions would be used to continue the line. The mare was a bay, and the two boys were the traditionally accepted colours of chestnut and black.
Then there was me. At first they wondered if I was albino, but as I developed my true silver and white colour became more apparent. Although the Arabian lines showed in my body and agility, I would never fit into the prestigious category.
My father ignored me and my mother paid me little attention, so I wouldn’t stand out. I frequently overheard the owners of the stud farm talking about me, but never guessed what they had in store.
Usually I kept to myself but one day, when I was feeling particularly lonely, I nuzzled up to a mare for company. She reared back, pushed me so hard I nearly lost my footing, and then ran off whinnying and complaining to join the others. As she galloped away I noticed a small trail of blood running down from where I had touched her.
For some time I had felt a funny feeling on the top of my head, almost as if a tooth was growing there. When I looked in the stream I could see a small lump between my ears which seemed to be getting bigger. I wanted to ask my mother about it, but she was in training so I couldn’t get near her.
Later that afternoon she came to find me, and I was surprised when she made a fuss of me for almost the first time in my young life. That night, as I was sleeping in my stable, I heard a disturbance outside which woke me up. Three big men stood there with a halter and rope. They started leading me into a large horse trailer, and although I couldn’t read the words on the side it smelt funny and I was scared.
Just then I heard a commotion from the next stable. It was my mother, neighing and kicking and making a fuss. The men left me to go and see what was wrong with her but she kept on making a ruckus, which was unusual as she was always so placid. Then I heard her voice calling to me, ‘Run, run! Make for the mountains. Don’t come back!’
For a moment I stood there bemused, but then I saw the men returning so I took to my heels. They chased after me but my breeding stood me in good stead, and I soon left them far behind.
By the time I reached the path leading up the mountain trail it was already dark, but there was a bright, full moon to light my way. After all my exertions I was feeling thirsty, but there was nowhere to get a drink. As I made my way higher and higher I suddenly saw a shaft of moonlight glinting off water.
I picked my way over the rocks towards it, but then came face to face with a solid mass of stone blocking the way, and could go no further. Now I was closer I could hear the sound of a waterfall cascading above me and my thirst grew stronger. There was no way I could reach it, so I turned back the way I had come and even considered returning home. Lonely and despairing there seemed little point in carrying on.
My head was lowered as I trudged back along the path, and if it hadn’t been for a small winged insect making me start, I would have missed the flash of silver reflecting in the distance. From what I could see it was another horse like me, but from its head there protruded a single long horn.
Intrigued, I headed towards where it had disappeared into the shadows. As I got closer I noticed a small crevice nearly hidden behind the overhanging rock. It was a tight squeeze but I managed to get through and found myself on a narrow ledge, stretched like a tightrope leading across to the other side.Even though my heritage made me sure-footed, the towering cliffs on one side and the narrowness of the track made me consider turning back.
Then I realised there was no space to turn around. I was committed. Either I carried on and hoped to reach the other side safely, or I threw myself off and drowned in the lagoon I could see far below me. The crashing of the waterfall to my left would drown out the sound of my lonely cries, and the peaceful night would remain undisturbed.
I lifted my head and focused on the end of the journey. Hope renewed in my heart as I spied an assembly of tiny winged creatures, leading the way and encouraging me on. Just as I started the final stretch some loose gravel clattered under my front hooves and I skidded, nearly losing my balance and falling into the water far below.
Shaken and despairing I hugged the rock face. Despite the overhanging precipice being some way above me, I realised the crag was holding me fast, locked to the protuberance on my head. It gave me time to recover my footing and calm my beating heart.
Attempting to free myself I spied the creature I had seen before, flourishing the long, shining horn that rose in majesty from his head. With a final shake of my neck I was free, and a few moments later my feet were treading on solid ground. The majestic Unicorn who was my father came to greet me. He led me to the cool, clear water of the lake to slake my thirst.