One of the horses of the Elves, Asfaloth was naturally faster than ordinary horses, even the steeds of the Nazgûl.
- "[M]y horse will not let any rider fall that I command him to bear. His pace is light and smooth; and if danger presses too near, he will bear you away with a speed that even the black steeds of the enemy cannot rival."
- —Glorfindel speaking to Frodo about Asfaloth
When Glorfindel found Aragorn and the hobbits on their way from Weathertop to Rivendell, Asfaloth carried Frodo Baggins to and across the Bruinen. Asfaloth obeyed verbal commands from his master, racing off when Glorfindel called to him. After the Nazgûl were swept away in the flood while attempting to cross the Ford of Bruinen, Asfaloth stood guard over the fallen Frodo until his friends could reach him.
In Sindarin, Asfaloth means "Sunlit foam," from ast ("sunlight") and faloth ("foam"). Nearly all of the words for foam in both Sindarin and Quenya are used interchangeably for the words like ("surge, wave and crest"), hence the Sindarin word with the same prefix falastala which is the present tense verb or adjective for ("surging"). This points to two alternative interpretations for Asfaloth, one meaning "Sun surge" and the other "Surge of Sunlight." These alternatives are also in keeping, like the original interpretation, with the surge in the Bruinen which J.R.R. Tolkien described as resembling a great herd of horses trampling over the Nazgûl, drowning them, and washing them away."
Behind the scenes
In one of letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, he revealed that Glorfindel did not use a bridle and bit when riding Asfaloth. Instead, he would have an "ornamental headstall, carrying a plume, and with the straps studded with jewels and small bells". As promised, he later changed the bridle and bit to headstall.
Portrayal in adaptations
The Lord of the Rings film trilogy
In Peter Jackson's The Fellowship of the Ring, Arwen (taking Glorfindel's place) rides a gray (not a true white) horse named Asfaloth. Later in Arwen's vision of Eldarion, she rides a gray horse, possibly Asfaloth.
Three gray Andalusians were used: Florian, the hero horse; Hero, used for high speed chases; and Odie, which was used for scenes in which Arwen was unhorsed.
- In The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (video game), Asfaloth is sent by Glorfindel to take Frodo to Rivendell.
- In EA's The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth II, Glorfindel rides with Asfaloth.