It’s the age old battle: Unicorn vs. Flying Horse. The unicorns have the edge right from the beginning, naturally. I mean, how much catchier is “unicorn” than “flying horse”? I tried to make this a more even argument from the start, by finding the flying horses a slightly more captivating name. Unfortunately, there wasn’t anything along the lines of “unicorn”, and calling all flying horses Pegasus is about as insulting as calling all dolphins Flipper.
Not to say that Pegasus didn’t do anything for his kind. It’s the opposite, really. In fact, if this was a one-horse show with a battle between just Pegasus and Unico, then flying horses would win hands down. But this is not about two horses. It is about two different species, who have both faced stereotyping and prejudice, who have both had their moments in the spotlight, and each had to deal with the rivalry of the other horses. Today, the battle is less between unicorns and flying horses, and more between genetically-unique-horses and humans. Ocean Owl investigates.
I met up with Colin*, an average nine-to-five-working unicorn, in a restaurant in Portsmouth, UK. “I guess I don’t really get that much hassle,” says Colin, pausing to take a bite of his salad, “I mean, a spike sticking out of your head is pretty easy to hide. Sometimes I ‘ll just wear a hat on my way to the work, or when I go to the shops. Top hats, sombreros, that sort of stuff. Anyway, sometimes people do come up and talk to me. They want to know, you know? Like, is it painful? Does it get in the way? It doesn’t bug me. The only time I get annoyed is when people ask me if I’m gay. Why should a unicorn be gay, anyway? Horses aren’t necessarily gay, or rhinoceros! Not that I have anything against gays, mind you. I have gay unicorn friends, and that’s fine, but I’ve been happily married for seven years, with two kids. It just seems ignorant, you know?”
But Colin isn’t the only unicorn suffering from harassment. Last July, four unicorns were fired from their jobs at Apple Inc. with the company citing “hazardous facial features” and “lack of opposable digits” as reasons. But the unicorns aren’t just giving up. Henrietta, the leader of the U.E.T.U.W (Unicorns for the Ethical Treatment of Unicorns in the Workplace) says: “Every generation has had their own battle to fight. For our grandparents, it was the fight against slavery. For our parents, it was the accusations of witchcraft. For us, it’s workplace equality.”
Unicorns have always had a history of being in the spotlight, even before the recent events of unicorn-rights activists staging protests and sending angry and illegible e-mails. But what about the flying horses? Since Pegasus hit the big-time in classic Greek mythology, there has been little news of flying horses in popular culture. Whilst some flying horses are enjoying the anonymity seldom-granted to unicorns, Trixibelle, a self-proclaimed “struggling actress” flying horse from London, thinks this is far from harmless. “Nobody wants horses with wings in movies anymore.” she says. Judging from her pink highlighted mane and tail and her acrylic hooves, it appears Trixibelle has invested a lot in her appearance for her career. But according to her, it just isn’t enough. “When you’re a flying horse, nobody wants you. They get, like, unicorns or even plain horses instead, and, like, put wings on them. ‘Cause then they can just take the wings off and, like, be something else. The last offer I got for a movie was totally rubbish, for My Little Pony, The Motion Picture. I was so insulted!”
The film industry isn’t the only place where prejudice against flying horses is present. Last year’s trial of EasyJet limited vs. Icarus Jones saw the airline attempting to sue a flying horse for air space conjestion. According to the company’s lawyer, an aerophobic passenger on board an EasyJet plane also saw Mr. Jones flying outside a window and went into a hysterical fit. However, there was little evidence to support this claim.
Unicorns and flying horses are still struggling in today’s world. Everything from a lack of restaurants catering to their dietary requirements, to “offensive” cartoons such as Charlie the Unicorn, the genetically-unique-horses are still having to fight against prejudice. But times are changing, and unicorns and flying horses such as Henrietta are still hopeful. “Things are getting better,” she says, “Slowly but surely, we’re moving towards a world where humans, unicorns, and flying horses are equals.”
*Real names have been changed. Model used for photograph.