Myths and legends have hundreds of majestic legendary horse names perfect for naming your new steed. Of course, you know many of them; Pegasus, Sleipnir, and Flicka, to name a few. But there are more names out there than you might think.
In this article, we will explore some of the greatest horses to appear in myths and legends, some of whom truly existed and others whose fabled myths still shock and inspire people today!
The name Tencendur appears in an 11th-century epic titled The Song of Roland. The epic details the events of the Battle of Roncevaux Pass in the reign of Charlemagne the Great.
Tencendur was the horse of King Charlemagne, ruler of the Lombards, Franks, and the Holy Roman Emperor. His mighty stead Tencendur battled alongside his master at Roncevaux in 778 A.D. and stood by him during many battles.
Even the most incredible horses of Norse myth had parents, and in terms of legendary sires, Svadilfari is perhaps the greatest. Svadilfari has strength that surprised even the gods, capable of hauling large rocks to build a fortress for the gods.
Svadilfari’s strength is not the primary source of his fame; in fact, it is his offspring that makes him so famous. Svadilfari is the father of Sleipnir, Odin’s steed, who the shapeshifting god Loki gave birth to after a night with Svadilfari takes an interesting turn.
The Chinese culture first recorded the use of the horse around 3,000 B.C.E. Since then, many myths about the Qianlima winged horse exist in East Asian folklore and legend. These mighty horses are able to travel a thousand Chinese li, or miles, in a day.
4. Balius And Xanthos
The ancient hero Achilles of Greek myth had two horses, Balius and Xanthos, gifted to his father Peleus from the sea god Poseidon.
The gifts of Balius and Xanthos were many. The war horses were immortal and at one time capable of speech thanks to the gods. They rode with Achilles to the great Trojan war.
The Irish god of the sea, Manannan mac Lir had a mighty horse who could travel faster than the wind. This powerful creature was known as Enbarr and once was the steed of the Celtic god and king Lugh.
Enbarr translates to froth in some older medieval glossaries, or the one or unrivalled mane.
Pegasus has an impressive bloodline. He is the offspring of Poseidon and Medusa, foaled when Perseus ended the gorgon. He was famed for flying around Mount Olympus with the gods. His rider of myth was Bellerophon, a slayer of monsters who predates Hercules.
Historians disagree about the true meaning of Pegasus, but proposed interpretations include spring or lightning. The Greeks immortalized Pegasus as a constellation in the Northern night sky that exists even to this day.
7. Skinfaxi And Hrímfaxi
The sun god Dagr and night goddess Nott of Norse myth ride horses on their journeys through the celestial heavens. Their steeds are mighty and beautiful. Skinfaxi means the shining mane, and Hrimfaxi means the horse of frost mane.
Like Greek myths, the Norse horses of legend pull the heavens by chariot for their riders. Skinfaxi draws the sun across the horizon, and his twin Hrimfaxi pulls the moon.
8. Sterope Or Lampos
In Greek myth, the Titan sun god Helios pulls the sun across the horizon with his chariot of flaming flying horses. Helios keeps his cavalry of steeds in stables on the edge of the Western horizon.
Sterope is one of the four immortal horses of Helios who often pulls the chariot. Lampos is one of Helios’s steeds bequeathed to the younger Olympian god Apollo.
In Islamic tradition, the archangel Gabriel received a great gift from Allah for pleasing Him. The ancient myth describes Haizum as a flaming, winged white horse. Haizum flies beyond the earthly plane, capable of crossing the cosmos in a mere moment.
The horse Shabdiz really existed during the reign of Persian King Khosrau Parvez. The royal steed has since passed into legend. His name means midnight or black.
Historical records describe Shabdiz as a beautiful black stallion and the world’s swiftest horse in the age of Parvez. He served as a steed for romance, bringing the King his true love Shirin to him.
Norse myth declares Sleipnir the greatest mythological horse, a grey stallion of fierce loyalty and extreme speed – Sleipnir was an eight-legged horse!
Sleipnir was birthed by Loki and sired by the mighty steed Svaðilfari after a night of mischief. The Norse god and king Odin rides Sleipnir into battle.
In Greek myth, most centaurs were party animals, but not Chiron. Brother of Zeus, Chiron, was raised by Apollo and Demeter, and as such was an accomplished poet, doctor, prophet, and archer.
Chiron’s name means hand, and he had a hand in raising many famous heroes, including Ajax, Jason, and Perseus. In addition, he was the father to Melanippe, a black horse, and Euippe, the “good” mare.
Of all the famous war horses of history that transcended into myth, Bucephalus is the greatest. Steed of Alexander the Great, Bucephalus helped the emperor conquer and create a mighty empire. History describes him as having a black coat with a white star on his brow.
No one but Alexander could tame Bucephalus – unsurprising, as his name means oxhead. Nevertheless, Alexander loved the stubborn horse so much that Alexander raised a city in the steed’s honor named Bucephala on his death.
Bayard first appeared in the 12th Century chanson de geste French narrative. The legendary male horse was so famous that reddish horses, now known as bays, drew their name from him.
The myth of Bayard includes a tale of his extreme strength and bravery as he escapes to the wild from Charlemagne’s attacks. In addition, Bayard understood human speech and had the ability to grow to the size of his rider.
The Arion of Greek legend is the offspring of the god Poseidon and the goddess Demeter. His parents being gods, it comes as no surprise that Arion was immortal, one of the fastest horses ever ridden, and intelligent. Oncius, the son of Apollo, raised Arion among his herd of horses.
Arion has an impressive history. At one point, he was given to Hercules by Oncius to aid in some of his battles. Arion also saved the life of Adrastus, king of the Argos, after a botched war on Thebes.
The name Flicka means girl in Swedish, and the name has become synonymous with a loyal and wise female horse thanks to the film My Friend Flicka and its later renditions.
In the films, Flicka is a tough filly tamed by a young boy, Ken. She saves the life of Ken’s father in the movie, warning him about a mountain lion and staying by his side despite being injured. That’s one loyal girl!
Fans of Lord of the Rings know that Shadowfax was the lord of all horses in Tolkien’s world. The beautiful, silver horse understands human speech and travels faster than the wind blows, outracing even flying monsters of Middle Earth.
In the Lord of the Rings, Shadowfax rides with the famous wizard Gandalf throughout the second and third books and films. He protects Gandalf in many battles and stays by the wizard’s side until the very end of the tale.
In C.S. Lewis’ The Last Battle, Jewel is a noble unicorn. He was beautiful, white in color, with a blue horn he used to defend his friends and Narnia.
Jewel never fell under the spell of the false Aslan impersonating the true king of Narnia. Like the unicorn of myth, Jewel was loyal, just, and pure.
Horse Name Inspiration
When selecting a name for your horse, you can often find it when looking to the past for inspiration. The ancient myths and legends of this world are full of exceptional steeds who achieved a great many things on their many adventures!
Help Choosing The Right Name
If you need help choosing the right name for your majestic steed, consider using a few of these tips:
- Consider your horse’s temperament. Are they shy? Stubborn? Sweet? Look for horses in myth and legend who resemble your own horse’s moods and temper.
- Consider your horse’s looks. Many famous horses are known for their coat, eyes, and mane as much as they are for their deeds.
- Consider your own interests. Do you love literature or Greek mythology? Find a name from sources you love that really fits your horse!
- Consider your own culture. Does your hometown or country have a famous horse myth? Do your ancestors? Explore your roots as you look for a name for your horse!
- Consider the sire and registry rules. Some require that the sire name be part of your horse’s names, and some registries don’t allow duplicate, common names.
The horse exists in hundreds of folkloric tales, ancient myths, and historic legends around the world. These global myths and legends provide plenty of ideas for anyone looking to name their own horse.
Remember to look for a name that truly suits your horse. The horses of myth have impressive stories and amazing feats that are sure to inspire you as you seek to find the perfect name for your own majestic steed, and when you find the right name, you’ll know.