Thestrals are the most elusive and least horse-like breed of magical horse. They have acquired an undeserved reputation as omens of evil. They are visible only to those who have witnessed and accepted a death, and are described as having "blank, white, shining eyes," a "dragonish face", "long, black manes", "great leathery wings", and the "skeletal body of a great, black, winged horse". They are also described, by Hagrid, as "dead clever an' useful". Dolores Umbridge asserted that Thestrals are considered as "dangerous creatures" by the Ministry of Magic.
Thestrals have fangs and possess a well-developed sense of smell, which will lead them to carrion and fresh blood. According to Hagrid, they will not attack a human-sized target without provocation. Their wings are capable of very fast flight for at least several hours at a time, though they usually spend their time on the ground, and they have an excellent sense of direction. The breed is at least semi-domesticable, given a willing trainer. Thestrals can be used to pull loads, and make a serviceable if very uncomfortable mode of transportation for someone with enough nerve
Hogwarts has a herd in the nearby Forbidden Forest and primarily uses them to pull the carriages that transport students to and from the Hogsmeade train station. They are introduced to Care of Magical Creatures students in the fifth year under Hagrid — in the same year that Harry becomes able to see them (after witnessing the death of Cedric Diggory), after having previously thought that the carriages moved on their own. In Order of the Phoenix several characters are shown to be able to see Thestrals including Harry, Hagrid, Neville, Luna, and Theodore Nott. The first film causes a continuity error as Harry witnesses Professor Quirrell's demise in the end, as well as Cedric's, and does not see the Thestrals until his fifth year. (Rowling has explained there is no such continuity error in the novels: Harry does not actually witness Quirrell's death, as he is unconscious at the time.)[20] Thestrals are featured in the Battle of Hogwarts at the end of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, seen attacking Death Eaters.



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