5 Phenomenal Mythical Horses (History & Facts)

If you’re interested in mythical horses, you’ve come to the right place!

We covered the 5 most popular types, their histories, and more fascinating facts. Read on!

You’ll soon know more about these creatures than you ever thought possible!

Let’s not waste any time and dive into our first mythical creature.

Related: 7 Brave Breeds of Battle Horses

1. Unicorn

lady with wings riding a unicorn, one of the most popular mythical horses

Our first mythical horse is the one everyone knows, unicorns.

In most cases, unicorns are depicted as majestic horses fitted with a mystical spiraled horn. 

But unicorns haven’t always been thought of as beautiful white horses.

Other cultures tend to have different legends associated with these mythological horses. 

History and Appearance

The legends of unicorns date back to the 4th century. A Greek physician named Ctesias documented stories from travelers about massive wild donkeys roaming through India. 

In these reports, unicorns were redheads with white bodies, blue eyes, and 1/2-foot horns. I’d imagine it’d be intimidating to see these beautiful mythical horses roaming around in the wild. 

Early European folklore offered a different tale as unicorns were goat-like creatures fitted with colorful horns. They also had magical powers, as unicorns often do in modern depictions. 

However, one of the more unique unicorn legends happens to originate in Asia. These stories depicted unicorns as having a deer-like body, reptilian scales, and horns covered in magical signs/symbols.

Notable Unicorn Facts 

  • A unicorn’s horn makes poisoned water drinkable and heals sickness.
  • People used to sell Narwhal tusks as unicorn horns
  • Unicorns don’t belong to a specific mythology 
  • Scotland’s National Animal is a unicorn 

Our Favorite Unicorn Names

  • Astra
  • Buttercup
  • Cassiopeia
  • Esmeralda
  • Firefly
  • Hesperia
  • Neptune
  • Onyx
  • Pearl
  • Yasmin

2. Centaurs

female centaur hugging a white pillow

Centaurs earned a spot by being one of the more bizarre mythological horses.

Their build of being half horse and half human gives them special status among famous horses.

But the depictions of a centaur’s personality can vary drastically. Everyone has a different idea of how a half-human, the half-horse creature would act. 

History and Appearance

In the early descriptions, centaurs were chaotic and barbaric creatures within Greek Mythology. It was a trope to make them seem lesser to a fully-formed human. 

But some stories did describe them as a bit more pleasant. In any case, a few things about centaurs never did change through the years.

Centaurs were always capable of speaking as humans while running with a horse’s speed and power. It made them a powerful foe for anyone who crossed them.

As for their appearance, I’d suspect most people are familiar with a centaur’s standard build. These creatures will have a man’s torso, arms, and head while containing a horse’s body.

One of the more common modern uses was their appearance in the Harry Potter series. Centaurs were the ones who gave Professor Dolores Umbridge what she deserved in the fifth film.

Notable Centaur Facts

  • Centaurs have two points of origin:
  1. Children of Ixion and Nephele (a cloud made in Hera’s image)
  2. Children of a Centaurus that mated with the Magnesian Mares.
  • These creatures are known for their inability to handle wine.
  • A centaur killed the popular Greek hero Hercules.
  • Chrion, the most famous centaur, was depicted as wise, modest, and civilized. He was the tutor of many Greek mythological heroes like Achilles and Aesculapius.

Our Favorite Centaur Names

  • Aughus
  • Bido
  • Chiron
  • Mira
  • Pholos
  • Raisya
  • Skelor
  • Tatna
  • Tomis
  • Yarog

Check: Top 5 Smallest Miniature Breeds

3. Hippogriff 

Hippogriffs have become a popular figure among fans of the wizarding world. It stems from the fan-favorite hippogriff, Buckbeak, in the ultra-popular Harry Potter series.

These powerful, fast magical creatures are known for their ferociousness. But some tales use them as a symbol of love, considering they’re an offspring of natural enemies (Griffins and mares).

History and Appearance

As you might expect, hippogriffs have a body with features from both a Griffin and mare. Their front half and wings will be of an eagle, while the bottom half is all horse. But Griffins and horses being enemies makes them a rare commodity.

Hippogriffs are also known for being more intelligent and faster than Griffins. But they do lack their excellent flying ability. Their horse-half gives into its instincts and keeps them close to the ground. 

People can tame a hippogriff, but it’ll take a lot of patience due to their pride. Anyone who does manage to tame them will gain a trusted, faithful companion. 

As for their origin, it dates back to the 16th century. Ludovico Ariosto created hippogriffs in his Orlando furioso to symbolize an “impossibility or incongruity.” 

Notable Hippogriff Facts

  • Hippogriffs are omnivores, eating both meat and plants
  • Its sometimes spelled hippogryph
  • A common visual art subject during the 19th century
  • Known for being extremely fast

Our Favorite Hippogriff Names

  • Asteria
  • Athena
  • Buckbeak 
  • Featherfoot
  • Firewind
  • Nyx
  • Nightingale
  • Poe
  • Shadowfluff
  • Wildwing

4. Hippocampus 

hippocampus

Our first water-horse creature comes in the form of a hippocampus.

These creatures are a combination between a dolphin/fish and a horse. 

It makes for a rather interesting-looking and valuable mythical creature. Interestingly, Ancient Greeks believed the hippocampus to be the adult form of what we now consider sea horses.  

History and Appearance

A hippocampus will contain the upper body of a horse and a dolphin/fish’s lower body. In some cases, they will have flippers or hooves on their front legs. 

Most variations showed them to be shades of green and blue. But these weren’t exclusively associated with hippocampi as they did show up in other colors.

People might recognize them from the Percy Jackson films, as they showed up a few times. But their history goes well past this modern representation. 

The hippocampus plays a rather important role in Greek mythology. After all, hippocampui pulled Poseidon’s, God of the sea, chariot across the waves.

More on him and his immortal horse later. 

Aside from pulling Poseidon’s chariot, other sea creatures used hippocampi as transport mounts. Nymphs were especially known for riding them from place to place. 

It’s also important to note that their association with Poseidon made them highly respected by the Greeks. Thus, hippocampi never got shown in a bad light during those times.

Notable Hippocampus Factors

  • Sailors considered them good omens
  • Don’t pose any threat to humans
  • Feed only on ocean plants
  • Similar personality to modern-day horses

Our Favorite Hippocampus Names

  • Aphrodite
  • Apollo
  • Hades
  • Helios
  • Mercury
  • Nemesis
  • Neptune 
  • Oceana
  • Orion
  • Percy

5. Kelpies 

kelpie, one of the scary mythical horses

Our last type of horses is one of the coolest fantasy horse-related creatures.

A kelpie is a shape-shifting water spirit from Scottish lore, which takes the form of a black horse. 

These beautiful black horse spirits are said to show up in bodies of water all around Scotland. A kelpie showing up could quickly represent an undead nightmare for a story’s main character.

History and Appearance

Aside from taking the form of a black horse, a kelpie’s other identifiers are its dripping mane. It’ll stand on the river bank and tempt human victims to climb onto their backs.

Kelpies will then use their adhesive skin to trap the human and drown them in the river. But it’s essential to note these spirits will only haunt streams or rivers. 

It’s what makes them different from the closely associated Each-Uisge. Those mythical creatures haunt lochs and stay away from a kelpie’s territory. 

Some stories suggest kelpies can adapt into human form but retain their hoofs. Another exciting tidbit is kelpies are tamable for anyone who possesses its bridle.  

Notable Kelpies Facts

  • Kelpies were used to keep kids from playing near river banks
  • Associated with Satan due to it retaining hooves in human form.
  • Used as a tool to warn women of attractive strangers.
  • Two 30-meter high kelpie sculptures stand in Falkirk, Scotland

Our Favorite Kelpie Names 

  • Nessie
  • Lucifer  

CHECK MORE: Fluffy Horses

FAQs About MYTHICAL HORSES

Who’s the God of Horses?

Poseidon

In Greek mythology, Poseidon is the god of horses. He also fathered several horses, “best known of which was the winged horse Pegasus by the Gorgon Medusa.” It essential to note Pegasus was an immortal horse and one of the most well-known characters in Greek mythology.

What MYTHICAL Creature looks Like a Horse?

Aside from the ones mentioned in this article, there’s a creature called a nuckelavee. It’s a sea-based creature that’s a horse-like demon from Orcadian mythology.

What Was Odin’s Horse’s Name?

In Norse mythology, Odin’s horse was named Sleipnir. The horse had  eight legs, rune-inscribed teeth,” and the ability to gallop through the air and over the sea.”

Conclusion

I hope our discussions about mythical horses satisfied your interest in them. If you have any more questions, please let me know in our comment section.

I’m always ready to discuss these creatures and ideas for mythical horse names.

References

  • “Centaur.” World History Encyclopedia, www.worldhistory.org/centaur.
  • “Each Uisce.” Oxford Reference, www.oxfordreference.com/view/10.1093/oi/authority.20110803095738411. Accessed 24 June 2021.
  • Foundation, Poetry. “Address to the Devil by Robert Burns.” Poetry Foundation, 24 June 2021, www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/43797/address-to-the-devil. Accessed 24 June 2021.
  • GreekMythology.com. “Chiron – Greek Mythology.” Greekmythology.com, GreekMythology.com, 17 Oct. 2015, www.greekmythology.com/Myths/Creatures/Chiron/chiron.html.
  • “Hippogriff | Legendary Animal.” Encyclopedia Britannica, www.britannica.com/topic/hippogriff.
  • “Orkneyjar – Nuckelavee – the Devil of the Sea.” Www.orkneyjar.com, www.orkneyjar.com/folklore/nuckle.htm.
  • Pennell, Ally. “The Hippocampus.” Sites at Penn State, Feb. 2005, sites.psu.edu/mythologicalcreatures/2015/02/02/hippocampus/. Accessed 24 June 2021.
  • “Scottish Myths, Folklore and Legends | Scotland Is Now.” Scotland, 2015, www.scotland.org/features/scottish-myths-folklore-and-legends.
  • “Sleipnir | Norse Mythology.” Encyclopedia Britannica, www.britannica.com/topic/Sleipnir. Accessed 24 June 2021.
  • The Editors of Encyclopedia Britannica. “Poseidon | Myths, Symbols, & Facts.” Encyclopædia Britannica, 12 Feb. 2018, www.britannica.com/topic/Poseidon.
  • —. “Unicorn | Mythological Creature.” Encyclopædia Britannica, 24 May 2018, www.britannica.com/topic/unicorn.
  • “The Helix: Home of the Kelpies.” Visitscotland.com, 2019, www.visitscotland.com/info/see-do/the-helix-home-of-the-kelpies-p889261.
a female centaur mythical horse

What do you think of these mythical horses? Share your thoughts below!

Ben R.
Ben R.

My name is Ben Roberts, and I absolutely love animals. So, naturally, I love writing about them too! I have three dogs and one old cat, plus experience with horses. Each one of them provides me with a new adventure every day. And the best part is they’re all best friends. Well, except the cat when he gets a little annoyed. FIND HIM ON: TWITTER.
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16 thoughts on “5 Phenomenal Mythical Horses (History & Facts)”

  1. This is such a lovely post. I love reading about mythical creatures. My favourites from here are unicorns. I love them, they are such magical creatures.

    Reply
  2. I had no idea that there were so many varying descriptions of unicorns throughout history, particularly the version with reptilian scales. I’ve heard of a Kelpie, but never really knew what it was supposed to look like.

    Reply
  3. I enjoyed reading this! When I was a child I used to believe in these creatures especially the unicorn. How I wish the unicorn is real.

    Reply

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