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What kind of a creature were Madame Maxime's horses that drew Beauxbatons carriage?

. . . they saw a gigantic, powderblue, horse-drawn carriage, the size of a large house, soaring toward them, pulled through the air by a dozen winged horses, all palominos, and each the size of an elephant. (GoF)

...

... the horses' hooves, larger than dinner plates, hit the ground.

...

"But ze 'orses -" "Our Care of Magical Creatures teacher will be delighted to take care of them," said Dumbledore, "the moment he has returned from dealing with a slight situation that has arisen with some of his other - er - charges." "Skrewts," Ron muttered to Harry, grinning.
"My steeds require - er - forceful 'andling," said Madame Maxime, looking as though she doubted whether any Care of Magical Creatures teacher at Hogwarts could be up to the job. "Zey are very strong. . . ."
"I assure you that Hagrid will be well up to the job," said Dumbledore, smiling. "Very well," said Madame Maxime, bowing slightly. "Will you please inform zis 'Agrid zat ze 'orses drink only single-malt whiskey?"

What exactly were those horses the size of an elephant with hooves larger than dinner plates? A known magical creature? Transfigured regular horses?

Canon/JKR answers only please.

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    I just reread the series and I'm reasonably confident that there's no answer in the books other than "they're huge friggin' horses". Movies and/or JKR may be another story. – hairboat Aug 1 '12 at 4:01
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The creatures are called Abraxans. While never named directly in the books, a later tome describes and identifies the creatures.

They are named in a book written by JK Rowlings under the pseudonym of Newt Scamander in a book called: Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them.

Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them

The quotation from the book is as follows:

Winged Horse

M.O.M Classification: XX-XXXX

Winged horses exist worldwide. There are many different breeds, including the Abraxan (immensely powerful giant palominos), the Aethonan (chestnut, popular in Britain and Ireland), the Granian (grey and particularly fast) and the rare Thestral (black, possessed of the power of invisibility and considered unlucky by many Wizards). As with the Hippogriff, the owner of a winged horse is required to perform a Disillusionment Charm upon it at regular intervals (see Introduction).

Screenshot of Winged Horse information from Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them

Image of page section of Winged Horse information from Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them

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    I apologize for being nitpicky, but isn't the author's name Newt SCamander? – chama Aug 1 '12 at 13:25
  • I know that images are pleasing to the eye, but I feel we don't need to both quote the paragraph as well as show an image of the same paragraph. – Mark Beadles Aug 1 '12 at 14:53
  • The writer on the cover is a pseudonym. I did explain that in the text. JK Rowlings IS the author, thus making it canon. I included the image for the people who insist on canon-verified sources. The text was sufficient for me. I originally did not have the image but I was certain I would hear complaints if I didn't. And, of course, I received complaints because I did. – Thaddeus Howze Aug 1 '12 at 16:16
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    @Thaddeus - chama was simply pointing out a spelling error in Newt's name. "c" instead of "a". I fixed that now. Also, personally, I think that the image is not needed at all. If someone is too dumb and complains about lack of image confirming a quote from a published book, there's no reason to go to the effort to placate them. Raise the Q on meta if you get such complainants, so the person can get explained why they are wrong by the community. – DVK-on-Ahch-To Oct 18 '12 at 0:18

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