For Ellen Sinatra and others who asked me about the Celtic water horses,
here is a brief overview. Most of the information I have gotten is from
Katherine Briggs's excellent book "An Encyclopedia of Fairies, Hobgoblins,
Brownies, Bogies and Other Supernatural Creatures."
The water horses, although known by different names:
Kelpie - lowlands of Scotland
Each Uisge - highlands of Scotland
Cabyll-Ushtey - Isle of Man
Aughisky - Ireland
their folklore is pretty similar.
Basically, these creatures live in bodies of water, and appear on the
shores of their native lochs/rivers/seas in the form of beautiful
horses. So beautiful, in fact, that people who see them prancing
playfully along the shore cannot help but want to ride them. The
people climb onto the horses, grab the bridle, and then the horse
runs straight into the water. The people are stuck and trapped -
no matter how hard they try, they cannot get off the creature.
The water horse takes the person under water and devours them. The
person is never seen again, but (according to about 75% of the tales)
their liver or lungs are found beached on the shore the next morning.
In a few of the tales, the water horse just gives their victims
a good dunking and releases them, but usually their fates are
The legends of the water horses are prevalent throughout the Celtic
lands - almost every loch or river had one associated with it.
Oddly enough, the tales do not extend outside of the Celtic regions.
In fact, horses almost 100% of the time have a good record in
mythologies and folklore around the globe, so it is weird, indeed,
that the Celts made such an evil creature take the form of a horse.
- Douglas MacGowan
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