My kingdom for a horse!

The Icelandic horse is a breed of horse developed in Iceland. Although the horses are small, at times “pony”-sized, they are long-lived and hardy. The Icelandic displays two gaits in addition to the typical walk, trot, and canter/gallop commonly displayed by other breeds. The breed is still used for traditional sheepherding work in its native country, as well as for leisure, showing and racing. Developed from horses taken to Iceland by Norse settlers in the 9th and 10th centuries, the breed is mentioned in literature and historical records throughout Icelandic history; the first reference to a named horse appears in the 12th century. Horses were venerated in Norse mythology, a custom brought to Iceland by the country’s earliest settlers. Selective breeding over the centuries has developed the breed into its current form. Natural selection has also played a role, as the harsh Icelandic climate eliminated many horses through cold and starvation. In the 1780s, much of the breed was wiped out in the aftermath of a volcanic eruption at Laki. The first breed society for the Icelandic horse was created in Iceland in 1904, and today the breed is represented by organizations in 19 different nations, organized under a parent association, the International Federation of Icelandic Horse Associations. (Source: Wikipedia)

Horsses Martijn

But let’s focus on the horses in the Icelandic music history.

As usual we start with a track by The Sugarcubes. Einar Örn on a pony, thinking that he’s a “Cowboy” in the big city. A track from the début album “Life’s too good” (One Little Indian/Smekkleysa, 1988).

But many years earlier the band Spilverk þjóðanna wrote a track about the “Icelandic cowboy”.

Amateur video featuring this song:

And we have to mention the band Tony The Pony of course.

But enough about cowboys & ponies.

Most famous song is probably by the almighty singer/poet Megas: “Gamli sorrí gráni”

A horse isn’t always Icelandic: “Arabian Horse”, an album by GusGus from 2011

Sudden Weather Change made a song about “American Horses”, featured on their 2nd album “Sculpture” (2011)

“Dark Horse” by Myrra Rós featured on her 2nd album “One amongst others” (2015)

“Eternal Horse” (2015) is an album by Stafrænn Hákon

“Dauður hestur” (Dead horse) is an album (Skífan, 1995) by HAM

“Year of the horse” by Hjaltalín & Icelandic Symphony Orchestra (2010)

Dr. Gunni’s song “Hestar” (Horses) is featured on the album “Í sjoppu” (2015)

Two years earlier Dr. Gunni went to the vet Kristján with his sick horse: “Gubbuhesturinn” by Dr. Gunni & vinir hans feat. on the album “Alheimurinn!” (2013)

Helgi Björns og Reiðmenn vindanna (Riders of the wind) did a Megas cover: “Gamli sorrí gráni”

“Ég sé um hestinn” is a song by Skriðjöklar

There is the Swords of Chaos song “Mandibular Wolf Tooth In Horse” feat. on the album “The End Is As Near As Your Teeth” (Kimi Records, 2010)

“Hófadynur “ by Klaufar

“Hesta-Jói” by Klaufar

Mannakorn‘s “Graði Rauður” and Reiðmenn Vindanna‘s “Graði Rauður” bis

We have to go further into history with 2 classics:

“Á sprengisandi”


And finally there is Lára Runars’ album “Þel” (2015) that has a beautiful horse on the cover


- Wim Van Hooste

Photos by Martijn Veenman

With the kind help of Jeff Obermeyer, Peter Males, Dr. Gunni, Bóas Hallgrimsson, Georg pétur sveinbjörnsson, Trausti Júliusson & Hulda G. Geirsdóttir