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Beware the Kelpie

With two separate parades pending today, my time is somewhat limited. As a result, I will first direct you to last year’s Halloween post, but will also include a few other notes on horses in folklore you may want to be on the lookout for tonight.

If you are near water, beware of the Kelpie – while traditionally they are native to Scotland, who’s to say some have not moved elsewhere? Kelpies are particularly troublesome since they may appear initially as a calm horse (although, usually, a wet one), only to shapeshift into a number of beastly forms. Their most common way of dealing with someone foolish enough to climb aboard, however, is for the Kelpie to simply walk into the water and let the rider drown before devouring him. It has a cousin in the Welsh Ceffyl dŵr, a water horse who also has the ability to fly. Kelpie Seaweed Ale is actually rather lovely and a much safer proposition.

Another folk beast that often appears as a horse is the Shag-foal, a type of hobgoblin or bogey from Lincolnshire. Also known as the Tatter Foal, it is so named because its typical appearance suggests a foal in the process of shedding out its coat. However, it can also manifest as a donkey or any number of darker forms. Some say their sole purpose is to attack travelers, while others say it exists to guard treasure. In any event, you’re probably better off with this sort of Hobgoblin.

But I will mention one racing ghost before departing; that of jockey Fred Archer, who haunts Newmarket. Archer was a popular and successful jockey who killed himself in 1886. A tall man, he was despondent over the death of his wife in childbirth and his constant struggle to make weight; a display dedicated to him at the National Horseracing Museum includes the gun he used to commit suicide. His ghost has been seen regularly riding over Newmarket Heath. Legend says he even gives out some good tips – my own best tip for a good Halloween is a nice Hambleton’s Nightmare Porter, Moorhouse’s Black Cat or their equally-tasty Pendle Witches’ Brew.

Happy Halloween!

2 comments to Beware the Kelpie

  • Fran Jurga

    Good stuff: both the legends and (I’ll have to take your word for it) the recommended brews. I’ve never seen Nightmare ale! I would have stocked up for tonight! We do have Black Bat Stout, though…

  • Chalk Eating Weasel

    I spent Halloween sipping my Woodford Reserve, nothing spooky about that, and handing out candy to trick-or-treaters while sitting in front of the fire-pit

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