Some men drove their horse and gig to Greenbank on the island Yell in Shetland. They left the horse outside a pub and went in to drink without ensuring it had water. The frustrated horse pawed at a barrel of porter, split it open and drank all the booze.
When the men re-emerged much later, the horse was not looking good. They climbed into the gig and shook the reins and the horse keeled over – apparently dead. Loathe to lose money, the men flayed its hide and went home on foot.
They were woken a short time after they clambered into their beds by a clattering in the yard. To their horror, it was the horse, skinless, and “very cowld”.
The farmers had recently killed some sheep for the winter so they hastened to get the sheepskins and clap them onto the flayed horse.
The sheepskins grew very naturally onto the horse, and thereafter the farmers got the wool of five or six sheep from it each year.
Adapted from The Lore of Scotland: a Guide to Scottish Legends by the peerless Jennifer Westwood and Sophia Kingshill.