I decided that it was high time to introduce my “herd”. Most of my friends are ponies, as you all know, but I do have a few who aren’t. We’re all family, though. I thought, if I was going to introduce anybody first, it would be Valkyrie.
Valkyrie is my oldest friend. When we were moving around, she and I were packed up together (which is why, in the oldest pictures, you can’t see either of us). Valkyrie is an Andalusian, which is a breed that comes from Spain. Andalusians have a long history of being adored for their endurance, grace, beauty, and stamina. They were often used by the military, dating back to the Conquistadors. They have powerful legs, which means they can do jumps and tricks many other breeds can’t; this power gives them an advantage in sports like dressage. (Quick side tangent: did you all know that dressage came from military training techniques for horses? Many of the moves today, especially the Aires, had practical functions.)
Andalusians are also known for being bold, which Valkyrie definitely demonstrates. She has no problem going anywhere, and loves to explore.
Her name is mythical. Valkyries come from Norse mythology, which are the stories of the Vikings (or Nordic peoples). The Vikings lived throughout Scandinavia and traveled throughout the known world (even reaching as far as North America). Their mythical figures were often strong, enduring figures. We get giants, elves, and dwarves from them, as well as Thor (who is way crazier in myth, let me assure you. Marvel ain’t got nothing on how crazy Thor really was), Odin, and Loki.
The Valkyries were considered the “daughters of Odin,” though it varies as to whether or not they were actually his daughters or just female spirits who worked for him. The valkyries rode over battlefields on winged horses, delivering heroes’ spirits who had died valiantly to Odin at Valhalla, the Hall of Heroes. These heroes trained for Ragnarok, the Norse apocalypse, when they would return again and fight Loki and his armies.
Valkyries were tough. They wore armor and had weapons, and though they don’t have a story of their own, they were figures that you definitely didn’t want to mess with. There are a lot of interesting portrayals of them; Rick Riordan in his Magnus Chase series has created a great group of them. Valkyries were kind of like the secret service of Odin, only instead of protecting him at all costs, they went off and gathered warriors for him.
Another interesting fact (and a bit of a tangent…): our word “berserk” comes from the Vikings. Berserkers were Viking warriors who were so intense on the battlefield that they looked insane. If they died in battle, then those crazy warriors were picked up by the valkyries. I’m just saying: anyone who can deal with a crazy, dead Berserker is not someone to take lightly.
Our Valkyrie is not quite so crazy, though she definitely has a mind for adventure. Keep an eye out for her pictures: she tends to be leading us through something that looks dangerous, or taking it on for herself.
Book photo credit:
Lindow, John. Norse Mythology. Santa Barbara, California. ABC-Clio. 2001.
Philip, Neil. The Illustrated Book of Myths. New York, New York. DK Publishing, Inc. 1995