“A kelpie is a shape-changing aquatic spirit of Scottish legend. Its name may derive from the Scottish Gaelic words ‘cailpeach’ or ‘colpach’, meaning heifer or colt. Kelpies are said to haunt rivers and streams, usually in the shape of a horse.
But beware…these are malevolent spirits! The kelpie may appear as a tame pony beside a river. It is particularly attractive to children – but they should take care, for once on its back, its sticky magical hide will not allow them to dismount! Once trapped in this way, the kelpie will drag the child into the river and then eat him.
These water horses can also appear in human form. They may materialize as a beautiful young woman, hoping to lure young men to their death. Or they might take on the form of a hairy human lurking by the river, ready to jump out at unsuspecting travelers and crush them to death in a vice-like grip.
Kelpies can also use their magical powers to summon up a flood in order to sweep a traveller away to a watery grave.The sound of a kelpie’s tail entering the water is said to resemble that of thunder. And if you are passing by a river and hear an unearthly wailing or howling, take care: it could be a kelpie warning of an approaching storm.
But there is some good news: a kelpie has a weak spot – its bridle. Anyone who can get hold of a kelpie’s bridle will have command over it and any other kelpie. A captive kelpie is said to have the strength of at least 10 horses and the stamina of many more, and is highly prized. It is rumoured that the MacGregor clan have a kelpies bridle, passed down through the generations and said to have come from an ancestor who took it from a kelpie near Loch Slochd.