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Guest blogger: Allison Butler

13 June 2021

Tribute to a Nag

In medieval Scotland, a laird valued many things, some of which were his clan, his castle, his cattle, his sword, and his horse. In my latest release, The Thief, Laird Lachlan Elliot has spent every night for the last four weeks in bone-chilling misery determined to catch whoever is stealing from his prized herd. Imagine his frustration and fury when he learns the thief has stolen his horse.

Once native to Scotland and northern England, the Galloway Nag was a well-known type of pony, first noted in English literature when Shakespeare referred to the ‘Galloway Nags’ in Henry IV part II.

What makes this now-extinct horse breed worth mentioning?

From the fifteenth to the early seventeenth century on both sides of the border between England and Scotland, a place where the land had been continually ravaged by marauding armies, there existed people who’d suffered greatly, people who adapted to a time of lawlessness and strife, who often turned to raiding to survive and made it a way of life. They are known as the border reivers.

Autumn saw the herds brought down, fat and healthy from the summer pastures to the inbye fields. Autumn also heralded the beginning of the raiding season. Successful raids carried out by border reivers depended on knowledge of the land, the competence of those one rode with and the skill of one’s weapon of choice. But, as Alistair Moffat, historian and author of the masterpiece, The Reivers, wrote: ‘What delivered a party of reivers to their quarry, what indeed made their whole way of life possible was an animal too little remarked upon by historians, the remarkable pony known as the Galloway Nag’.

The Galloway Nag was said to have good looks, a wide deep chest, be of a bright bay or brown colour, with black legs, small head and neck and stood almost fourteen hands high. Its qualities were its surefootedness, a necessity considering the mountainous byways and inhospitable valleys they travelled, often by moonlight on rain-swept November nights. Its speed, a blessing when being pursued, or in pursuit. But perhaps its best quality was its stoutness. Strong of character, brave, bold, determined, and enduring.

Sadly, due to crossbreeding, the Galloway Nag became extinct in the nineteenth century. If you ever get the chance to visit Scotland, outside the old town hall in Galashiels, there’s a superb bronze statue of a rearing Galloway Nag carrying a fully armed border reiver.

Image courtesy of Undiscovered Scotland

Transportation. Worker. Warrior. Friend.
A four-legged hero.
Journey Home
Leg throbbing, stains blood-red. Weary. Head hurts. Mind cloudy, shades of grey. ‘Home, lad.’ Stretch along sturdy neck, coarse mane scratching whiskered cheek. Cold, dirt-encrusted fingers linked, locked. Blessed rest. Steady rock and sway. Night. Day. Blurred, steady rock and sway. Night. Dawn’s chill blanket. Body aches. Stillness. Lids heavy. Eyes slowly open. Stone croft. Wife running. Heart sighs. Shiver ripples beneath me. Hold tightens. ‘Thank ye, lad,’ whispered words. Mouth curves. Home …

Happy reading and best wishes to all.

Allison Butler xx

You can find Allison here: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

The Thief

To fulfill his father’s dying wish, Border laird Lachlan Elliot must marry and sire a legitimate heir, cementing his family’s name in the tumultuous borderlands. But his marriage will be one of convenience. Lachlan has no time for the pain and betrayal of love, and his land and position must always come first. So even when the spirited thief he catches stealing his horse turns out to be breathtaking—and appropriate—he vows to marry her, bed her, but never love her.

Kenzie never wanted an arranged marriage, but to be forced to wed the domineering laird who catches her thieving from his lands is even worse. Feisty, strong-willed and determined to make her own way, Kenzie may have no choice but to agree to the marriage, but she will never give up her independence. Lachlan may own her body, but he will never own her heart.

The Thief is now available in print


  1. 14 June 2021 7:48 am

    Hi Allison

    Very interesting post and I have to say a great book congrats

    Have Fun


    • allisonbutler permalink
      14 June 2021 12:03 pm

      Hi Helen,

      Thanks so much! The Galloway Nag was a remarkable breed of horse. I stumbled on them during research and thought they were well worth mentioning. I’m so happy you enjoyed reading The Thief:)

      Have a lovely day!

      Allison xx

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