These unfriendly horses belonged to the equally unfriendly King Diomedes of Thrace (who was the son of ARES and not the famous war buddy of ODYSSEUS).
The Labors of Heracles
Episode 8: The Mares Of Diomedes
Fresh from the capture of the CRETAN-BULL, his next task sounded simple enough: "Collect the Four Mares belonging to King Diomedes of Thrace."
EURYSTHEUS gave him further details. "So the King is a nasty piece of work, the son of ARES the War God. He is ruler of the Bistones, who relish a bit of grievous bodily harm." So far so good. HERACLES decided he could afford to take a few menials — and how about a few bags of oats to keep the Mares happy?
"Have I overlooked anything? Oh yes. The Mares only eat human flesh." There’s always a catch, thought HERACLES.
Herc decided to move fast on this one. A surprise attack took care of the grooms, and he hustled and rustled the mares to the top of a small hill before they knew what was happening. The Mares were left in charge of Abderus, one of Herc’s minions. They were fastened with chain as they would have eaten through reins.
Someone sounded the alarm. The Bistones were coming. Thanks to his experience at the AUGEAN-STABLES, HERACLES now had amazing stable-washing techniques. He dashed back to deal with the Bistones and furiously dug a channel to the nearby coast, flooding the plain the Bistones were charging across.
Amidst the confusion, HERACLES charged in, smote Diomedes who was leading the pursuit, dragged him round the newly-formed lake and up the small hill. The Bistones who were not drowned or containers for arrows decided to call it a day.
Now where was Abderus? Oh dear, the Mares had eaten him. They still seemed rather peckish so HERACLES gave them Diomedes to eat as well. From afar the Bistones shuddered and made their retreat even hastier.
The Mares, now replete and contented, caused no further problems. Another mission accomplished.
Next Episode: The Girdle Of HIPPOLYTA...