Care of Magical Creatures series: winged horses

Pottermore examines the curious breed of winged horses from Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, reimagined as 3D paper models.

We’re poring over Newt Scamander’s textbook learning about more of the many weird and wonderful magical creatures featured across its pages. Today, we’re looking at winged horses.

Learn more about these fascinating breeds and do Hagrid proud.

Abraxan

  1. In Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, the Abraxan is described as a powerful, giant palomino – meaning its coat is a beautiful, golden colour.

  2. Abraxans aren’t just pretty. According to Hagrid, he’s had a ‘bit of a ride on one o’ them’ so we can gather that these horses are pretty damn strong.

  3. Abraxans have interesting appetites. Madame Maxime’s herd of Abraxans only drink single-malt whisky.

  4. We wonder if ‘Abraxan’ was inspired by the mystical Greek word ‘Abraxas’ or ‘Abrasax’. The word was said to have magical properties, and was carved on many amulets. According to Homer, in Greek mythology, the Titan Helios rode a chariot across the sun pulled by horses – and one of these horses was called ‘Abraxas’.

Aethonan

  1. An Aethonan is a British horse, popular across Britain and Ireland, and is known to be chestnut brown in colour.

  2. With all winged horses, the owner must be able to perform a Disillusionment Charm in order to keep one, lest any Muggles get a nasty shock.

  3. Again, we can trace the etymology of the word Aethonan to Greek mythology, but also Roman mythology. A number of characters called ‘Aethon’, with various spellings, are horses. In some texts, Ares, the Greek god of war, was known to own a fire-breathing horse called Aithon.

Granian 

  1. Granians are known to be grey in colour and ‘particularly fast’.

  2. We wonder if the name was inspired by a horse from Norse mythology, called ‘Grani’.

  3. In Norse mythology, Grani is owned by the hero Sigurd. According to one version of the myth, Grani is a handsome grey horse that ‘no one has ever mounted’, and is apparently gifted to Sigurd from Odin.

Thestral

  1. Perhaps the most well-known of the winged horses is the Thestral, due to Harry Potter’s odd relationship with the creature, which can only be seen when one has witnessed death.

  2. Despite the morbid connotations, and their skeletal appearance, these bat-winged horses are rather rare, and appear to carry the knowledge to fly a wizard to wherever they wish to go. Well, Hagrid’s Thestrals certainly knew their way to the Ministry of Magic.

  3. According to J.K. Rowling, Thestrals have an affiliation with the horse-loving Celtic peoples.

  4. In Harry Potter, we know that Luna and Harry can see Thestrals. By the end of Deathly Hallows, we imagine a few more characters will finally be able to see them, especially after the Battle of Hogwarts.

Porlock 

  1. Porlocks are not winged horses, but horse-guardians, found in Dorset, England and Southern Ireland. We thought we’d include them here, to keep our other horses company.

  2. Porlocks are notoriously shy, and are wary of humans. Unlike horses, they walk on two cloven feet.

  3. Porlock is also a coastal village in Somerset. We wonder if a Porlock has ever been to Porlock.

  4. In Harry Potter, Hermione suggests to Hagrid they should learn about looking after Porlocks in Care of Magical Creatures, but Hagrid thinks that would be boring.