Firstly Unicorns are an extremely diverse tribe… They can and do look all sorts of ways…I am not totally sure about their scale but I believe that Elves and Dwars have heavier alchemy (and are likely scaled differently according to their planetary alignments than that of a human stockman is…) and so I imagine Unicorns to be somewhat taller than a human could ever feasibly ride. It might reign true that a human jockey and Elvish Uquestrian could never be truly comparable but their myth still demands an explanation. At any rate a Uqe is still noticeably taller than the average Elf at the front of the shoulder. The Mare almost alwasy standing above 8 Elvish cubits. The Dwar folk almost never bother with this fine art of riding or tolerating the Uquine breed. Except for maybe the lucrative investment of buying or trading the breed as a commodity. Most Uqes though have a natural hatred for the inherent nervousness of the Dwar folk and so apparently seem to be largely set at each others odds. This is however likely only a myth and many exceptions have likely occurred especially in the racing variety.
Further the “horn” is actually an intertwined set of tusks which protrude through the middle of the “Uquine” snout (not the top of the head as seen in most human fantasy artwork.) The most common ‘Tuskatta’ has four sets of intertwined ivory tusks protruding through the middle of the nose bridge and intertwine in a Narwhale sort of fashion. The tusks closer to the eyes are usually thinner and and may grow at odd or uneven angles for many years and most often break off into a flatter stump than those closer to the snout. Vastly all the fantasy pictures which humans render of Uquines are depicted as a white female Uquine; which appear somewhat chubby when compared to a true Uqe… much like a cute little Shetland Pony appear next to a full sized horse. (Horses are delightful creatures though!) Uquines also come in about as many colors as horses do and some are even striped or spotted.
But this is really only a description of the more rider friendly variety. I feign to say “domesticated” because I don’t believe a Unicorn can ever be truly “domesticated” in the human sense of the word. The feral herds seem to be more varied and thick legged than the riding or racing Uqes. Who are also mostly striped in appearance. The companion Uquine tribes or rather Elf friendly varieties have two distinct forms with some variation between them. One being the “Dodger” variety which are characterized by an extremely agile and somewhat mutable frame and the other being a more straight forward thick legged racing variety. Each of these naturally adopt a different gait or preferred stride as either case may be but Uqes are highly adaptable and are well suited to learning “new steps” so longs as one has the patience to hang on and learn their patterns.
The second aspect of their “appearance” is their ability to semi shape-shift and alternate limbs. The Dodging variety can even assume a humanoid profile for short times especially while climbing. The Unicorn that I know and love; usually appears more like an extremely muscular and somewhat lanky workhorse but with a twisty mid frame. She can also cleave her hooves for mountain climbing if it suits her fancy. Uquines are noticeably taller in the shoulders having slightly longer forelegs (choppers) than hind ones. So reaching and clutching are well with in their ability even while having hooves and four feet.
To me; horses (which are beautiful) appear much more comfortable and safe. A horse is like a walk in the park; a big round bum to help keep you seated toward the middle and evenly placed set of shoulders, with a nice big belly to keep you seated. Which is much more like loafing in an armchair than ‘riding’. Horses look like something you could ride while enjoying an ice-cream or looking at your phone, or even reading a book. Mostly.
Uquines are conversely noted for their talents in what has been called ‘suicidal ballet’. The Uquines stride is not a straight forward “trot” like their more comfortable down-world Equine counter parts… The Uqes’ like to alternate between gaits and even dance while they run. Most yearlings like to attempt maneuvers similar to what you might imagine a break dancer to do or a swing dancer might try. This is where the semi shape-shifting aspect rears its terrible and frightening head. In any case much like a bull fighter it is imperative that the rider banish any and all fear associated with the more athletically challenging rides. Its is also important that no dogs or small animals are present with in the training period. Unicorns love to trample. They tend to have an exquisite ability to destroy things you might assume they couldn’t. They are likely to sprout an extra limb just to crush something for the fun of it.
I have only rode 8 horses in my earthly life; so I am by no means an expert on the Equine animal. In regard to Uquine their are two simple rules, the most important being you have to move with them and the second is you have to take them to interesting places. Horses; being wonderfully obedient, appear to actually enjoy to working!.. A Uquine would scoff at herding cattle or pulling a cart. Most domestic Uquines like prefer to dance with their riders others like to race, but there are also a more reckless varieties that like to parkour through hoodoos or go mountain climbing. It should be noted that taking your Uquine “mountain climbing” on a first date will only test how well She can keep you alive… Say No! to any sort of “interplanetray” travel at least for the first three dates or so. Be safe and wear protection! Expect to break at least a couple of bones while you get used to each other. Its not some lofty hayride and even the kindest and gentle Uqes’ like to play mother to at least a few broken ribs or maimed extremities. Its a trial by fire and you would do well to expect hell.
Normal Uquestrian athletics are more or less like riding a Bmx only you don’t get to decide what sort of tricks to do. Its always a surprise. As a “rider” your more like one of those mini back-packs or a hair accessory than an “operator”. Another important difference is where horses have a “bit” which presumably provides some level of control to the “rider”; a Unicorn would never allow any such thing in their mouth! The idea is thoroughly laughable even for the most domineering of riders. They have a Mane which is “good enough” for holding on in most cases (So mine says) and in rare cases if you Unicorn allows it; one may also clutch the “stubby” in emergency situations, but this is by no means universal. (The stubby being the base of their tail.) Their hips are also somewhat narrowed and there for ‘clutchable’ if you happen to have long enough legs and an intense need to survive. The female Unicorn is universally regarded as the most graceful and beautiful creatures G-d has ever created.
Male unicorns conversely are some of the ugliest and most despicable beasts I have ever seen. As I have already stated most humans equate Unicorns as looking like Horses… But the sexual dimorphism in the Uquine species is especially defined. And it actually pisses me off and makes me jealous how much my Uni blathers on about all the eligible studs on the “Prime-World”. The head and forequarters of a Unicorn stud looks much like an Earthly Bull Terrier Canine except with hooves and green shit stains all around its ass and sometimes across its back and in its mane. Adding to the near reversal of the sexual dimorphism of this species is that the male is especially capable of moving major muscle groups at will, so how it is actually shaped is always depending on what its doing. Virtually all Stallion Uquine are entirely unrideable except for maybe very briefly in the Rodeo sense and altogether suicidal sense. They like to mark their territory with feces and often roll in it and also keep a keen sense in how it was dropped. So if they happen to gather that their excrement has been “violated” or “disturbed” by a rival or even non Uquine entity they will go on the warpath and destroy the nearest thing on their territory that “belongs” to someone else.
Further the most wild Stallions are equipped with and ever growing set of tines which protrude out the side of their mouth in a similar way that the earthly wild boars keep. Some of the more savage Uqes bear dueling scars on their neck and even like to mark their harem on the buttocks with gouges similar to how a rancher might brand its cattle. Such females are often completely unsuitable for riding and will often act as a siren bringing her rider to her stud for a “treat trampling”.
In all my years on all my planets there is nothing more disgusting than seeing a Stallion Unicorn attempt to rape your Uni. Its a lot like hearing your parents talk dirty to each other… that’s probably a bad analogy but its some how violating. Its disgusting but part of an age old cultural practice of their species… The Uquine race; despite any all attempts to “domesticate” its members universally remain stoically heterosexual. Indeed that is the entire reason for its females to allow riders of any sort.
Maybe I will draw one someday.