Beware the Water Horse

Here’s another of my horse lore articles. It originally appeared in a long-ago issue of The Chronicle of the Horse.


Two water horses with fishes' tails in a fountain in Paris, France
Water horses at Paris’ Fontaine des Quatre Parties du Monde, sculpted by Emmanuel Fremiet.

Beware the water horse. He lurks in the deep, murky waters of desolate forest pools, and in icy northern fjords, and on bright, sun swept beaches–and he wants to eat you.

Beware the Scottish kelpie.  Kelpies are shapeshifters that take the form of bold grey horses, as grotesque humans with hideous sabre teeth, or as handsome young men with horses’ ears and seaweed draped in their hair. They haunt saltwater estuaries, inland rivers, and great, deep lakes like Loch Ness. Kelpies devour human flesh . Once aboard a kelpie’s sticky back, a rider is doomed. Off thunders the kelpie into the deep, where the human quickly drowns. Only his liver is spared.

And kelpies have cousins. Nickers den in Iceland’s frigid fjords, shoneys on Cornwall’s shores, and Scottish each uisges haunt desolate seaside tide pools. All of them are shapeshifters and blood drinkers, fearsome and cunning and mean. Continue reading “Beware the Water Horse”