What is a Kelpie?
"The classic water horse in Celtic, and especially Scottish, tradition. The Kelpie haunted rivers rather than lochs or the sea. When a storm was due, the Kelpie could sometimes be heard howling and wailing. […] [H]is most usual shape was that of a young horse and in common with others of his kind his favourite trick was to lure travelers onto his back and then rush with them into a deep pool, where he struck the water with his tail, causing a sound like thunder, and then vanished in a flash of light. He was also suspected of sometimes tearing people to pieces and devouring them."
-John & Caitlin Matthews, The Element Encyclopedia of Magical Creatures.
"The best-known of the Scottish WATER-HORSES. […] haunted rivers rather than lochs or the sea. He could assume human form […] His most usual shape was that of a young horse. He played the ordinary BOGY OR BOGEY-BEAST trick of alluring travellers onto his back and rushing with them into a deep pool [ibid…]. He was suspected of sometimes tearing people to pieces and devouring them."
- Katharine Briggs, An Encyclopedia of Fairies.
"Scotland also has its water-spirit, called Kelpie, who in some respects corresponds with the Neck of the northern nations. 'Every lake,' says Graham [footnotes omitted], 'has its Kelpie, or Water-horse, often seen by the shepherd, as he sat in a summer's evening upon the brow of a rock, dashing along the surface of the deep, or browsing on the pasture-ground upon its verge. Often did this malignant genius of the waters allure women and children to his subaquaeus haunts, there to be immediately devoured. Often did he also swell the torrent or lake beyond its usual limits, to overwhelm the hapless traveller in the flood."
"… and the mischievous water-Kelpie also appears in his equine form, and seeks to decoy unwary persons to mount him, that he may plunge with his rider into the neighbouring loch or river."
- (both quotes) Thomas Keightley, The World Guide to Gnomes, Fairies, Elves, and Other Little People.
Most people, when I tell them about my Work in Progress (WIP) ask what a kelpie is. Here are some good answers I've drawn from. There is also an entry in Wikipedia with info that I've used to help develop my Big Bad. Elizabeth Bear also had a great kelpie character in her Whiskey and Water novel.
There was a cute movie called The Water Horse, which I know exists but I'm ignoring because my kelpie is not kid friendly.
He's pretty damned terrifying.
And really, he should be.
First of all, horses are Big Freaking Animals. I adore them, but I've been physically hurt by them more than by any other animal - including humans. And most of that was just them screwing around and not meaning to hurt me.
I've been in front of a rear twice in my life - an intentional show of force.
I all but needed to change my pants. It's scary!
Now, regular horses are prey-animals, prefer (usually) flight to fight, and eat grains.
Make one of those half-ton-and-up beasts a predator with a taste for little children? And sentient?
If you haven't seen the video of my horse, Calico, playing with her paddock mates, check this out… then imagine if they weren't playing.
Oh, and they were dripping wet with weeds in their hair and fiery red eyes and wolf-like teeth?
And an aside regarding my last post on the magic of writing? There's a prehistoric hoofed predator that's like a cross between a horse and a wolf. Oh, and the skull was found in a dried up riverbed. So there! Kelpie have prehistoric proof!
I'm so pleased with my Kelpie antagonist, who refuses to tell me his name so far because he's just like that, and I'm coming upon the Final Battle. So, all I want to do is get there and write it.
So, this is all you get for my blog post. Go look up Kelpies - and try not to have nightmares!