A. Sutherland - AncientPages.com - Riding into battle, Odin was always accompanied by Sleipnir(or Sleipner), an amazing, eight-legged horse of supernatural strength. Odin has also other constant companions, namely, two wolves; Geri (Greedy) and Freki (Ravenous) and two ravens, Munin, (memory) and Hugin, (thought), ever present on the god’s shoulders.
Odin upon his amazing horse Sleipnir
The fastest of all horses and never tired Sleipnir, could carry Odin through the sky, over lands and seas, and to one of the nine worlds, Helheim, the Abode Of The Dead and back. Sleipnir accompanied Odin wherever he went. When Balder died, Odin’s son Hermod rode Sleipnir to the death goddess, Hel to try to gain his brother back to the world of the living.
But how did this marvelous creature come to existence? Sleipnir was born under some very special circumstances.
The horse was the extraordinary offspring of a stallion, Svadilfari, and the trickster of Asgard, Loki, who shapeshifted into a mare, to give birth to a magical Sleipnir.
It happened just after the war between the Aesir and the Vanir was over, but Asgard, the Kingdom of the Norse Gods still needed to be protected more permanently. One of the giant builders, Hrimthursar made a proposal to construct an impenetrable wall around Asgard only in three years.
Stone from Gotland, 9th century, depicts a rider on an eight-legged horse, that maybe Odin on Sleipnir, hailing a dead soldier who, along with other warriors ('Einherjar') will be delivered by Valkyries to Valhalla. Tjängvide, Alskog, Gotland.
His price, however, was exceptionally high. He wanted the Moon, the Sun and the hand of the Vanir goddess Freya, who had an ability to manipulate one’s destiny.
The Aesir gods agreed, but under the condition the job must be done by the giant on his own and with the help of only one horse. They did not believe the task could be accomplished. They were wrong; the giant’s horse, Svaðilfar, was a strong and never tired and as winter came, the wall around Asgard was both massive and high and the only way to stop the progress of the giant’s work was to effectively distract his formidable horse from work.
Disguised as a mare, Loki trickster led Svaðilfar astray and the two horses played, chased each other spending their time together.
"Odin Rides to Hel" (1908) by W. G. Collingwood. Image via Wikipedia
Without Svaðilfar, the giant was not able to finish his work and he became furious. At this moment, his disguise slipped and the gods could see that he was in fact, a giant.