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  • Writer's pictureAmy Haldane

Tolting: Part 2 - What is Tolt?

What is tolt? It's pretty important to have some understanding of what tolt actually is

before you can successfully ride it.

You may have come across different spellings for tolt as it can vary from country to country, but it means the same thing.

tolt tölt tølt toelt

The footfall of the tolt is the same as the walk. It's a four beat gait with both lateral and diagonal movements. One or two feet are usually on the ground and there is no suspension which makes it so comfortable to ride. Footfall of the tolt is left hind, left front, right hind, right front.

The Icelandic horse can tolt from just off a walk all the way up to the speed of a canter. Each horse usually has a speed it is more balanced in tolt to start with, and with time more variation of speed will come.

It's useful to listen to the footfalls and see if they are even or not - tolt sounds like variations of : "black and decker black and decker" or "pacapaca pacapaca". lf the horse is too lateral they become more "pacey tolt" and more to the diagonal "trotty tolt". See Blog post Tolting: Part 1 for a great diagram of all the gait variations in the icelandic horse.

Each horse varies in it's abilities in each gait - much of this has to do with the basic conformation of the horse. We can help the horse improve the gaits with exercises that increase fitness, balance, suppleness and strength over time. Some horses find the tolt very easy from the beginning and "offer" it to you. Others it takes some time before the tolt comes and trot is their gait of preference.

With riding tolt we usually ask for tolt from the walk, which can can be a little confusing sometimes because we also ask for trot from the walk. So it's how we prepare the horse and what aids we use to "ask" for each gait which can take riders and horses a bit of practice to get their heads around. Especially if you're used to riding a horse with only walk, trot, canter in that order!

What does tolt feel like to ride? Usually it feels smooth, like you are gliding along with your seat bones fluidly following the motion of the horse.

If it's trotty there is more bouncing up and down - girls check what your "girls" are doing - if they're thunking up and down chances are you're not tolting anymore!

Pacey tolt feels more like rocking left - right - left - right.

A great video of the 5 gaits of the Icelandic horse including tolt,

from the "Horses of Iceland" youtube channel

To be continued ...

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