As fanciers of unicorns have long noted, there is a wide variety in the shapes, sizes, and traits of the modern domesticated unicorn.  While most are white, newer strains have tended toward ivory, beige, tan or gold, and some extremists in the breeding community have even developed unicorn breeds which are pink, red, lavender, purple, or even blue.  For purposes of this monograph, however, we will deal here primarily with the basic domesticated breed, as represented by a white unicorn with a gold spiral horn, tufted fetlocks, and a tail resembling that of either a horse or a cow (the so-called lion tail).  The hooves may or may not be cloven. 

Breeders have long been aware of the variation in traits commonly present in even the basic, “pure” unicorn breeds.  This monograph undertakes to explain these variations as a consequence of cross-breeding wild unicorn stock with horses, cattle, and goats.

The reason for such cross-breeding is obvious.  The wild unicorn is a fierce and solitary animal, quite rare, nearly impossible to catch, and difficult to domesticate.  While possessing highly useful traits like the ability to purify water or neutralize poisons, or to determine human sexual purity by scent, hunting wild unicorns has historically proven counter-productive.  The horn tends to lose its effectiveness at purification when removed from the living unicorn, and, while a “dehorned” unicorn can still detect virginity, it tends to become lethargic and uncooperative once maimed in this fashion.  In order to harness, so to speak, the useful traits of the unicorn, it was necessary to capture wild unicorn specimens and forcibly breed them to more tractable creatures.    

            Unfortunately, the same traits which make unicorns so desirable are genetically recessive.  Cross-breeding therefore tends to dilute or submerge them, leaving the breeder with an animal that has some appearance of a unicorn but few or none of the special characteristics that make them worth domesticating.   The same phenomenon can be observed in the Color-point Persian cat, which was bred using Siamese and Persian base stock.  The cross between these breeds was intended to yield cats with the Siamese coat pattern, but with the long Persian cost and Persian physical characteristics.  However, the usual result of the first-generation cross was a shorthaired cat in some solid color, which had to be inbred to bring out the recessive traits of long hair and Siamese color points.  Even when the breed was stabilized, occasional “out crossing” of Color-point Persians to solid-colored Persians was required to reinforce the recessive traits.  The same is true of unicorns.  Without the occasional infusion of unicorn base stock, the so-called “wild blood,” the unicorn gene pool would become so diluted by the genes of horses, cattle, and goats that their desirable characteristics would simply vanish in a flood of domesticated-animal DNA.

            Fortunately, breeders occasionally see a throwback to the wild unicorn in their own herds, and such a creature is invaluable in reinforcing the desirable unicorn traits.     For the Cartwright herds, this throwback is Grand Champion Cartwright’s Graylord the Fierce, three-time winner of the Unicorn Fancier’s Association Cup, and Best-In-Show for the Wild Unicorn Division.  A throwback to the wild genes, Graylord is a small, fiercely independent creature that remains with our herd (although not strictly a herd beast) of his own free will, and demonstrates the positive unicorn traits of high intelligence and enlightened self-interest.

            For those who have never seen a wild unicorn, Graylord is quite small (nowhere near as large as a unicorn who has acquired size genes from a horse, bull, or goat), and his skin is slate gray rather than white.  His hooves are cloven and are a bronze rather than a gold color, as is his perfect spiral horn.  He has no tail or fringed mane, carrying instead a heavy coat of spotted shoulder fur somewhat like the mane of a bison, and ochre yellow facial tufting.  His eyes are ebon black instead of the usual tame-unicorn blue or amber, and show no pupils.  His ears make him look more like a bat than a horse, being pointed and rather large relative to the size of his head.  Frankly, some fanciers find him a bit ugly, especially the breeders of those extreme blue unicorns.

            However, Graylord is without equal in his particular show category, and he is an incredibly useful creature.  His horn easily removes chlorine from the city water we use in our aquariums, just as he easily removes toxins from EPA brownfields; the EPA’s only complaint is that he can’t purify polluted earth and water in large quantities without becoming quickly exhausted.  He’d need to be the size of a narwhal to purify a large polluted area in under a day, and he’s only about the size of a kitten.  His other services are more confidential; let it rest that the parents of possibly wayward sons or daughters and the members of certain royal families have found Graylord useful in questions of physical purity. 

He is also, pound for pound, as fine a guard beast as any pit bull.  I can wear my most valuable jewelry in public as long as I tuck Graylord into my bodice or purse, and the only home invader we’ve ever had probably still has horn scars on his ass.

If this monograph has interested you in the exciting world of unicorn breeding, or if you are a breeder wishing to acquire Graylord’s services at stud, please message us at this web site for further information.       

 By Margaret Cartwright©