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Horsey Horrors for Hallowe’en

Image by Jeff Dbury from Pixabay

With All Saints’ Eve fast approaching, we’ve picked some of our favourite horse-related spooky goings on to thrill and to chill you.

It really is the stuff of nightmares… and geldings.

Real Life: Horse Hauntings

Image by Achim Scholty from Pixabay

Hurst Wood, Tunbridge Wells, UK. It might be the stuff of legend, but the sound of thundering hooves has sent many an honest rambler running for cover on the paths of Hurst Wood. Fearing they are about to get trampled by a galloping horse, many have turned to face the threat only to be confronted by a headless horseman dressed in Cromwellian battledress.

In 1966, a man was reportedly so scared by the apparition, he immediately fled in terror.

Film: Pale Rider, 1985, starring Clint Eastwood

In this classic western, a mysterious preacher arrives out of nowhere to protect a lowly prospector village from the brutal attacks of a mining company trying to encroach on the villager’s land.

While Pale Rider is not strictly billed as a ghost story, fans have pointed out various scenes that would suggest it’s a supernatural tale. Clint Eastwood has also described his character Preacher as "an out-and-out ghost."

Furthermore, the movie's title is taken from the Book of Revelation, chapter 6, verse 8: "And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him."

Science: Back From The Dead?

Image by rihaij from Pixabay

In August 2018, mammoth tusk hunters unearthed a perfectly preserved 42,000-year-old foal in Siberia. The following April, researchers extracted liquid blood and urine from the foal, which opened the door to the possibility of cloning it and resurrecting the extinct Lenskaya lineage to which it belonged.

So far, the Russian lab has failed to regrow the samples into viable cells, but researcher, Lena Grigoryeva, remains optimistic.

According to reports, the ancient colt was a striking bay colour and died at only two-weeks old, most likely after falling into a muddy swamp that he couldn’t escape.

Real Life: Horse Hauntings

Image by Monika from Pixabay

Bryn-y-maen, near Colyne Bay, Wales. Driving at the crack of dawn is never a lot of fun, but along the winding lanes of Bryn-y-maen, early morning drivers have something more than tiredness to contend with – having to slam on the brakes to avoid a head-on collision with a white horse that suddenly appears over a hedge.

According to one driver who saw the horse coming straight for his windscreen, when his car stopped spinning, he looked up to find the horse had vanished.

Other drivers have reported similar experiences in the same area at the same time of day.

Book: The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

Image by Lorelei Cohen from Pixabay

Based on the legends of the Celtic water horse, The Scorpio Races takes place on a tiny fictitious island where, every November, water horses emerge from the sea to gallop on the beach. However, these are not cute, foam-covered ponies, but fierce, flesh-eating beasts, and for the young riders who step forward to compete in the race, there is no guarantee they will survive past the finish post.

In its review of The Scorpio Races, the New York Times wrote: “The capaill uisce are exhilarating, frightening creations, far more fascinating in their quivering, carnivorous rage than lovelorn vampires or angsty fallen angels, the current paranormal darlings of Y.A. literature. Stiefvater has successfully plumbed lesser-known myths and written a complex literary thriller that pumps new blood into a genre suffering from post-Twilight burnout.”

Paintings: Henry Fuseli, The Nightmare, 1781

Henry Fuseli was a Swiss artist of the 18th and early 19th centuries who was fascinated by horror and the supernatural. His most famous painting is The Nightmare which shows a demon crouched on the chest of a sleeping woman, and the head of a horse with bulging white eyes lurking in the darkness.

For a closer look, if you dare, head to the Detroit Institute of Arts.

Film: The Ring, 2002, starring Naomi Watts.

This film tells of a cursed videotape that causes whoever watches it to die seven days later. Called in to investigate the suspicious deaths, Watts identifies a woman on the tape as a horse breeder called Anna Morgan who killed herself after her horses drowned.

All very scary, but more interesting to horse lovers might be the methods used to portray a panicked horse plunging to its death from a ferry.

Eight experienced stunt horses were involved in this carefully choreographed scene, each one specially trained for a specific action, such as spinning, rearing, jumping, and kicking. Thick rubber matting lined the ferry floor to ensure safe footing for the horses, and all potentially harmful objects, such as vehicle side-door mirrors, were removed.

Hidden trainers guided the horses through their various roles with the horse’s dive into the water simulated by filming a stunt horse jumping over a low rail in front of a green screen. CGI then completed the heart-stopping scene. No live horse dived off of the ferry.

Real Life: Horse Hauntings

Bramham Park, West Yorkshire. Yorkshire is a ghost hunter’s paradise, but Bramham Park is the place to head to if you like a side order of horse with your spooks.

The park is said to be home to a whole herd of ghostly horses who are more often heard than seen. However, those who have come across their path say the horses are unusually large, light-coloured, with flowing manes and tails.

According to reports, the ghost horses appear from nowhere before disappearing – and could be the ghostly reminders of the Battle of Bramham Moor on 20th February 1408.

Myth: Horse or Giant Spider?

Image by Enoch111 from Pixabay

In Norse mythology, Sleipnir is an eight-legged horse ridden by Odin.

One popular theory among academics is that Sleipnir’s eight limbs represent the legs of pallbearers tasked with carrying the dead to their graves.

According to Norse fans, Sleipnir is everything that’s exceptional about horses, only doubled. Death is no match for him and he can travel anywhere, through any medium because his eight legs stand in all worlds.

So, pretty much how every horse owner views their horses.


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