The man’s most trusted steed

The Icelandic horse is a special creature, mythical and mysterious. The horses are intertwined with the story of the Icelandic nation and played an important role in getting Iceland inhabited. It would have made it substantially harder to live here and some say that it would not have been possible without the help of the horses.

The Vikings brought the Icelandic horse to Iceland along with other livestock when they first settled here. The breed of horses has remained pure ever since and is among the purest horse breeds in the world.

In old tales of Vikings and Icelanders through the centuries, the Icelandic horse often played a big part in the story either as men’s most trusted steed or as the hero of the story. There are many stories of horses who saved their owner’s life and even sacrificed themselves for their owners. When Icelanders, were paganists and still believed in Norse mythology the best horses were often killed and buried with their owners when they died in battles. That’s due to the belief that they would have an afterlife in Valhalla as warriors, and everything they were buried with appeared on the other site along with their horses.

The horses were also considered to have psychic powers and could see ghosts and spirits in the dark. Sometimes they would stop and rear and their riders would not be able to get them going again. Perhaps it just shows their big personalities, some can be stubborn and hardheaded just like us humans 🙂 Or what…

In Iceland, there are many natural sights named after horses or have the word Hestur (e. Horse) or similar in them. One story tells a tale about a Troll lady in Snæfellsnes who let her horse carry so much baggage on his back that on the way to her destination the horse could not go any further. She had to leave him behind and as the sun came up turned into a mountain that is now called Hestur. The troll lady then could not travel as fast without her horses and became a mountain herself when the sun came up.  Ásbyrgi canyon that you can see on our tours in the north is also said to be shaped by the horse Sleipnir the horse of the God Ódin. Sleipnir is said to have stepped his foot down and created this beautiful hoof-shaped canyon.


Likewise, there have been written numerous poems and songs about the Icelandic horse. You might know the most famous one that we often sing on our tours! Check it out below! And see our farmer Haukur from Hvammur farm talking about a mysterious story about when his favorite horse died…

Ríðum ríðum
Ríðum, ríðum, rekum yfir sandinn,
rennur sól á bak við Arnarfell.
Hér á reiki’ er margur óhreinn andinn
úr því fer að skyggja á jökulsvell.
:,:Drottinn leiði drösulinn minn,
drjúgur verður síðasti áfanginn.:,:

Þei þei, þei þei. Þaut í holti tófa,
þurran vill hún blóði væta góm,
eða líka einhver var að hóa
undarlega digrum karlaróm.
:,:Útilegumenn í Ódáðahraun
eru kannski’ að smala fé á laun.:,:

Ríðum, ríðum, rekum yfir sandinn,
rökkrið er að síga’ á Herðubreið.
Álfadrotting er að beisla gandinn,
ekki’ er gott að verða’ á hennar leið.

:,:Vænsta klárinn vildi’ ég gefa til
að vera kominn ofan í Kiðagil.:,: