Horses and people have shared a secret bond for centuries. Ever since ancient times, horses have played a role in the life of humans. We have used them as transport, but also as parts of the military. Nowadays, little girls dream of a pony horse. But many years ago, horses had a special place in our hearts.
There are many myths about horses, and they are definitely mythological creatures. We have to point that in many mythical legends, we talk about an animal that is a horse-like creature. We do not always talk about horses as the central animal.
And that is how we have creatures like Pegasus, unicorns, centaurs, and many more mythological horses. Today, we will talk about some of the most famous horses in mythical stories.
Pegasus plays a role in many stories of Ancient Greece. In stories and legends about the Greek gods, Pegasus plays the role of an immortal horse with wings. Thanks to his appearance in legends and stories, we now have a constellation Pegasus.
The pure white horse has sprung from the neck of Medusa upon her death. Bellerophon, a Greek mortal hero, tamed him with the help of Athena.
Once Bellerophon attempted to ride toward Mount Olympus on the wings of Pegasus and failed, the horse joined Zeus’ thunderbolt chariot.
There are many legends about Pegasus, and you can find him in different stories with different heroes and gods.
When you think of mythological horses, you mostly associate them with Ancient Greece stories. But you can find mythical creatures in different mythologies. For example, in Turkish mythology, Tulpars represent flying horses in black or white color.
Turks associated their wings with swift speed rather than flight. You can find Tulpars in many Asian legends. According to one legend, for example, people used the horses to invent the fiddle.
As stories go, Bucephalus is one of the most famous horses in history. According to stories from Greek mythology, Alexander the Great rode this horse.
He had a black coat, and stories describe him as having a white star on his forehead. Alexander tamed the wild creature when nobody else could. According to the legend, Alexander wagered his father for the horse, claiming he could tame it.
Alexander found out that Bucephalus was scared of his own shadow. So, he turned him away from the sun. There are different legends about his death. Some historians say he felled by battle wounds, while others say he died of old age. Alexander founded the city Bucephala and named it after his loving horse.
This horse appears in many East Asian cultures. The name of the horse literally translates to ”thousand-li horse”. Just for info, “li” served as a traditional Chinese unit of distance. In ancient times, that would equal 400km. And according to the legend, this horse could travel 400km in a single day.
The powerful winged horse appears in Korean mythology as well. According to legends, the horse was too swift for mortals. No man could tame him.
In the past few decades, the horse got recognition as a symbol of progress and economic development by the government of North Korea.
Most girls and even boys dream of unicorns. They would love to have this mythical horse in their possession. We would all love to meet one.
There are two types of unicorns you can find in legends. There is one from Europe, and one from Asia. The European unicorn looks like a pure white horse with a long, slender, and spiraled horn on its head. According to legends, the unicorn’s horn is pure magic and could save people from poison.
The unicorn was a rare creature, and almost impossible to capture.
In Asian mythology, the unicorn has a different appeal. He looks like a horse and more like a deer with reptilian-like scales covering his body. Even in Asian stories, he has a horn.
According to Asian legends, the last person to see a unicorn alive was the Chinese philosopher Confucius.
Fun fact: Back in ancient days and early European days, Greeks described unicorns differently. For example, Greek physician Ctesias describes them with a white body, red head, piercing blue eyes, and horns that were a foot and a half long.
This mythological creature also comes from Greek mythology. In Ancient Greece, the hippocampus looked a lot like the creature we call a sea horse. The story goes that the hippocampus was the adult form of the sea horse.
According to legends, these mythical horse-like creatures pulled the chariot of Poseidon. He used them as mounts for nymphs and other sea creatures as well.
In Ancient Greece, the hippogriff represented the god, Apollo. The creature has gone a long way since then. The creature made its first recorded appearance in the Orlando Furioso, an Italian epic poem by Ludovico Ariosto. In it, the writer describes the hippogriff as a creature with an eagle front and a horse in the back.
You can also read about it in Thomas Bulfinch’s Legends of Charlemagne. In that work, the creature has a head of an eagle, clawed talons, feathered wings, and the body of a horse.
The latest appearance of the creature comes in the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling. We all remember the character Buckbeak.
These creatures appear in the lore of Scotland. The shape-shifting water spirit commonly appears in the form of a horse. The kelpie stories surround nearly every large body of water in Scotland. But the most common story is set in Loch Ness.
The first appearance of kelpies in stories in Scotland came in 1759, in William Collin’s manuscript of an ode.
These are not nice creatures. Depending on the story you read, they can come as good or bad. In some stories, they are associated with human sacrifices. Other stories give them credit for keeping children away from dangerous bodies of water.
According to legends, they can transform themselves into other creatures, including male humans. When that happens, the human retains horse hooves. But they mostly appear as horses.
This eight-legged horse comes from Norse mythology. Oden rides the Sleipnir, a horse with a coat grey as the thunderclouds. The Sleipnir has a strength that knew no equal.
In Norse mythology, the description for the Sleipnir reads “the best among horses”. Legends talk about his ability to out gallop, out kick, out jump, and out whinny all other horses.
This is one of the most common and unique mythological horses. The centaur has the upper body of a human and the lower body of a horse.
In legends, Greek authors describe and portray them as barbaric and chaotic. But some stories describe them as pleasant creatures. They can speak to humans, but also have the power and speed of a horse.