Kelpie (Water Horse)

The kelpie is from Celtic folklore and is a supernatural water horse haunting the rivers and lochs of Scotland and Ireland. Versions of the fable vary from region to region.

It is described as a powerful horse with skin like that of a seal, smooth and cold to touch. The kelpie’s color is black in some versions, white in others, but always has a dripping wet mane. Other descriptions include green with a black mane and a tail that curves back. Still, always dripping wet and sometimes having aquatic weeds in their hair.

Some stories tell the tale that the kelpie is able to change into a beautiful woman to lure men into a trap. In other tales, it will lead any human, especially children into its trap. The kelpie would convince the child to ride it. Once this happened, the kelpie’s skin would become adhesive, the child would be dragged into the water, drowned and consumed.

One common tale says nine children were lured onto the back of the kelpie but a tenth managed to escape. Another version of this tale says the tenth child rubbed the nose of the kelpie, his hand became stuck and the child cut of his own hand to escape.

A kelpie has been used in various books, TV series, and is the title of a Jethro Tull song, in which a young man follows a kelpie first appearing as a beautiful young lady.

Image Caption: “The Kelpie” illustration of a water horse that turned into a beautiful woman to lure unsuspecting men into it’s trap. Credit: Wikipedia (public domain)