As a little girl, I always wanted a pony for Christmas. Santa never brought me a pony. So in my late 40s, I started taking horseback riding lessons. When I turned 50, I got my first horse, an Icelandic named Blessi (Veigar frá Búðardal). Little did I know how much fun life with an Icelandic was going to be. Blessi has a unique perspective on life. I hope you enjoy reading about it as much as I enjoy Blessi. And you will probably read about my cats from time to time.
“Thrain had fifteen
house-earles trained to arms in his house, and eight of them rode with him
whithersoever he went. Thrain was very fond of show and dress, and always rode
in a blue cloak, and had on a guilded helm, and the spear - the Earl's gift -
in his hand, and a fair shield, and a sword at his belt.”The Story of Burnt Njal—Icelandic Saga
written down in 1200s about events from 960 to 1020
Historically, the Icelandic horse was not used in
battle.From approximately 700 to 1100
AD, the Vikings raided across Europe.Disembarking
from their well built ships capable of sailing both ocean and rivers, Vikings pillaged
monasteries and villages.Armored in
mail or leather and carrying axes or spears (and sometimes swords), the Vikings
would ransack and terrorize.“… as they spent
much of their time sailing to different destinations the use of horses was
impractical. Most Viking armies were relatively small and thus they did not
seek open battle willingly…they preferred sailing along a stretch of coast,
raiding, looting and enslaving before disappearing over the horizon. Their best
weapon was the advantage of surprise”(Nell,
2008). War horses would have taken up too much space in the Viking ships and
been of limited use on quick slash and grab raids.However on home ground, the Vikings rode horses
to a battle but dismounted and fought in a shield wall.
Carved of ivory probably in Skalholt, Iceland, in the first half of the 13th century, the Lewis Chess pieces depict what armed Viking warriors may have looked like at that time.Some of the pieces are riding Icelandic-like horses.The pieces were found on the Isle of Lewis, Scotland, in 1831.