Kelpie, shapeshifting river horse

The Horse Man

The Kelpie is a Scottish legend of a shapeshifting horse who likes to dump his riders in the river. The horse’s second form, though, is a debate. Some say it is a man. Others, water itself. And the appearance of the horse-form? Usually, stories say black or gray, although every once in a while you’ll find a kelpie with seal-like skin. You might also tell a kelpie from a normal horse because its hooves are reversed.

The Kelpie is a water spirit, and thus associated closely with that element. Kelpies can warn of impending storms or floods, if anyone is close enough to listen.

Food Source

Kelpies like to encourage riders, especially children, to get on their backs. However, this is an extremely dangerous thing because the kelpie heads straight for water and dumps its passenger to drown. There, the horse will eat the person.

Why not just jump off, you ask? Well, that would be the kelpie’s magic, of course. Some stories say the skin on its back actually becomes sticky, like glue. Others say the kelpie rears and the rider is so intent on staying on that he doesn’t realize there’s danger ahead.

Writing Him In

The Kelpie is usually a malevolent spirit, since he eats people and all. Might make for an interesting adversary. Of course, you could twist the stories a little and find a good kelpie battling it out to protect his river. Who knows until you start writing.

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