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Monday, December 4, 2023

7 Popular Mythological Horses

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Eons ago, before young girls begged their parents to let them have a pony, horses had long since embedded themselves in history and had been loved by humans.

If you are familiar with legends, myths, and historical accounts, you will discover that one consistent creature recorded is the mythological horse.

Mythological horses, however, do not center on actual horses but on creatures that have horse-like appearances.

Famous mythological horse or horse-looking creatures include Bucephalus and Pegasus, while a collection of horse-like animals recorded in history includes Unicorns, kelpies, and hippogriffs.

Here is a list of mythological horses that you’ve probably not heard about.

1. Bucephalus

Arguably one of the most famous mythical horses that genuinely walked the earth, Alexander the Great in Ancient Greece, once owned a Bucephalus. Far from owning a pony, right?

Bucephalus’ coat was elegant black and was described as possessing a white star right on his forehead. Pre-teen Alexander, around 344 BC, wagered his father for the mythological horse with claims that he could tame and ride the wild creature.

To win the wager, Alexander moved Bucephalus away from direct sunlight, as he had discovered that the horse was scared of his own shadow. Alexander as so close to his horse that he went further to name a city, “Bucephalus” after his companion.

It was rumored that the horse died of old age, even though some historians recorded the horse met its end as a result of a battle wound.

2. Pegasus

Probably the most beautiful and well-known mythological horses ever recorded. Pegasus features in stories of the Greek gods as an immortal creature with amazing long wings. This horse has also won itself a place in the stars as part of a constellation.

Pegasus, in Greek myths, is said to have evolved from the neck of Medusa as she was dying. Bellerophon had the pleasure of being the first Greek mortal to tame the horse with the help of Athena, of course.

The horse was eventually stabled by the mighty Zeus himself after Bellerophon tried riding the winged horse toward Mount Olympus but failed when he was thrown to his death. Pegasus then went on to lead Zeus’ legendary thunderbolt chariot.

Legend also has it that Pegasus supposedly created the spring Hippocrene found on Mount Helicon when its hoof hit a rock.

3. Unicorn

There exist two types of unicorns; one from Asia and the other from Europe. The European unicorn has the appearance of a white horse with a long, pointy horn spiraling from its head.

Unicorns are reportedly mythological horses with magical powers to save people who are poisoned. The downside? They are challenging and even near impossible to find or capture.

Asian mythology, however, has its unicorn looking like a deer instead of a horse, with reptile-like scales on its body. Nonetheless, it also has that slender, pointy horn parading its forehead.

According to legend, the last person to have seen an Asian magical unicorn was Confucius, the Chinese philosopher. The rare appearance of this unicorn would only signify a very wise and just ruler.

4. Hippogriff

The hippogriff is one mythological horse that a mad scientist would imagine creating. This is a creature that is a horse in the back and an eagle in the front.

It was initially sighted in the 16th century in Ludovico Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso. The hippogriff depicts the god Apollo in Greek times.

The hippogriff was later described in Thomas Bulfinch’s Legends of Charlemagne as possessing the head of an eagle, the body of a horse, feathered wings, and clawed talons.

The animal is surprisingly very fast but is, unfortunately, very evil. The hippogriff can be recognizable from our very own J.K. Rowling’s famous Harry Potter series.

5. Kelpies

Scotland tales have it that the shape-shifting water character, the kelpie, has a horse-like appearance. A widespread kelpie myth is presented in Loch Ness; however, kelpie tales surround almost all large Scotland bodies of water in Scotland.

Kelpie’s first appearance was reported around 1759 in an ode by William Collins. Unfortunately, like hippogriffs, kelpies aren’t friendly creatures, and depending on told tales, they have been linked with human sacrifices. Yikes!

The good news, however, is some accounts that credited kelpies for keeping children away from dangerous bodies of water.

Kelpies are the only mythical creatures that have the ability to transform themselves into other creatures, and sometimes, humans.

Although, when they change into humans, they naturally retain horse hooves, proving the link between kelpies and the devil.

6. Sleipnir

Odin, in Norse mythology, rode an eight-legged horse known as Sleipnir. The account was initially given in the 13th century.

This mythical steed is referred to as “the best of all horses” and was characterized as gray in color.

There is a claim by Icelandic folklore that Asbyrgi, a horse-shaped canyon located northward of the country, was forged by Sleipnir’s hoof.

To date, people can see a statue of the horse in Wednesbury, England.

7. Widow-Maker

The American mythology of Pecos Bill is a bold amalgam of many tables that had their origins around campfires of the old west.

Pecos had a horse named “Lightning,” but was also called the “Widow-Maker.”

The Widow-Maker was named so because he could only be ridden by none other than Pecos Bill himself, and he despised Peco’s bride that he knocked her off, leading to the end of the couples’ union.

Widow-Maker allegedly delighted in eating dynamite, but Pecos Bill occasionally rode a mountain lion rather than his horse to prove how tough he was.

So what do you think? Which of the mythological horses do you believe existed and still exists till today? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

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Oluwafemi Michael
Oluwafemi Michaelhttps://freelancespace.org/
Oluwafemi Michael is a freelance content writer with ample years of experience. He is into several writing niches including iGaming, Health, Pets, Relationships, and more. You can find him near the beach or tending to his plants on days he isn't romancing his keyboard.
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