Considering the following quote:

'They have not returned,' said Legolas. 'It will be a weary walk!'

'I shall not walk. Time presses,' said Gandalf. Then lifting up his head he gave a long whistle. So clear and piercing was the note that the others stood amazed to hear such a sound come from those old bearded lips. Three times he whistled; and then faint and far off it seemed to them that they heard the whinny of a horse borne up from the plains upon the eastern wind. They waited wondering. Before long there came the sound of hoofs, at first hardly more than a tremor of the ground perceptible only to Aragorn as he lay upon the grass, then growing steadily louder and clearer to a quick beat.

'There is more than one horse coming,' said Aragorn.

'Certainly,' said Gandalf. 'We are too great a burden for one.'

'There are three,' said Legolas, gazing out over the plain. 'See how they run! There is Hasufel, and there is my friend Arod beside him! But there is another that strides ahead: a very great horse. I have not seen his like before.'

'Nor will you again,' said Gandalf. 'That is Shadowfax. He is the chief of the Mearas, lords of horses, and not even Theoden, King of Rohan, has ever looked on a better.

-The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (Chapter 5, The White Rider).

I would like to know if any canon information has been given as to how Shadowfax (and friends) appeared (near) where the trio were.

Related question: How did Tom Bombadil respond to Frodo's call so fast?

  • 7
    Shadowfax is a friend of Gandalf's and Arod is a friend of Legolas and Hasufel is friend to Shadowfax and Arod. Sure they would be hanging around to see if they could be of help.
    – Morgan
    Commented Apr 17, 2014 at 6:14
  • Yeah, that seems a likely explanation; I was always under the impression that Gandalf 'summoned' them
    – Möoz
    Commented Apr 17, 2014 at 6:16
  • 5
    He did call them over (summon then if you will), but they were already in the area. Some would say that Shadowfax was Gandalf's horse, still others would say that Gandalf was Shadowfax's 'human'.
    – Morgan
    Commented Apr 17, 2014 at 6:25
  • 2
    Same way you can always whistle for your horse in Red Dead Redemption. Simple. Commented Apr 17, 2014 at 6:47

1 Answer 1


Gandalf never reveals all of his powers, but some sort of telepathy is clearly one of them.

"I bent my thought upon him, bidding him to make haste; for yesterday he was far away in the south of this land. Swiftly may he bear me back again!"

And Hasufel and Arod were with him because they had run off just the night before to hang out!

"Now I understand a part of last night's riddle," said Legolas as he sprang lightly upon Arod's back. "Whether they fled at first in fear, or not, our horses met Shadowfax, their chieftain, and greeted him with joy. Did you know that he was at hand, Gandalf?"

(These two quotes are out of order for the sake of the question, and are both from Book 3, Chapter 5: The White Rider in The Two Towers)

As Jimmy Shelter points out below, this ability is not limited to just animals. When Frodo is on Amon Hen and puts on the ring to escape Boromir, Sauron sees him. But:

Then as a flash from some other point of power there came to his mind another thought: Take it off! Take it off! Fool, take it off! Take off the Ring!

At that moment, Gandalf is in Lothlorien, and when telling his story to Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli after they meet in The Two Towers:

Very nearly it was revealed to the Enemy, but it escaped. I had some part in that: for I sat in a high place, and I strove with the Dark Tower; and the Shadow passed.

As additional evidence of Gandalf's powers of telepathy, he also reads Frodo's mind while the latter is unconscious and recovering in Rivendell after barely escaping the Nazgul:

"You have talked long in your sleep, Frodo," said Gandalf gently, "and it has not been hard for me to read your mind and memory. Do not worry! Though I said ‘absurd’ just now, I did not mean it. I think well of you – and of the others. It is no small feat to have come so far, and through such dangers, still bearing the Ring."

(Book 2, Chapter 1: Many Meetings in The Fellowship of the Ring, emphasis is mine.)

  • I wonder how you get that he was in Lothlórien? Seeing as how he was at a high place. Whatever the case he tells that tale in The Two Towers and not The Return of the King: he's telling it to Gimli, Legolas and Aragorn in the chapter 'The White Rider' (chapter 5 of book one of The Two Towers).
    – Pryftan
    Commented Jan 12, 2018 at 1:53
  • 1
    @Pryftan The timeline in Appendix B shows that Gandalf was brought to Lothlorien just one day after the rest of the Fellowship left. You're right about the quote, I've fixed it.
    – Plutor
    Commented Mar 14, 2023 at 13:23
  • 2
    “A great horse is never late. Nor is he early. He arrives precisely when he means to.” Commented Mar 14, 2023 at 18:20

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