Icelandic equitation

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Performing tölt. The curb bit is of traditional Icelandic design.

Icelandic equitation is the traditional style of riding of Iceland. It is closely associated with the Icelandic horse.

The basis of Icelandic equitation lies in the long traditions of riding horse transport. On an island with little wood, making and using carriages or sleighs was not practical in Iceland. Thus horses had to be ridden for long distances, and the style of equitation formed to accommodate comfort and endurance. Unlike traditional English equitation, which is one of the two predominant traditional styles in the United States, Icelandic equitation is much more relaxed. The dress code is not as stringent and more emphasis is placed on a relaxed and enjoyable ride.[1] The ideal seat is straight and balanced, with light cues and a light rein. Verbal cues are often used as well as seat and leg commands. Overall, the style is meant to be comfortable due to the animal's smooth gait as well as pleasurable. There are slight differences in tack, but for the most part it is very similar to English tack.[2]

The Icelandic horse is able to pace as well as perform a smooth ambling gait known as the tölt, and is able to perform these gaits at a variety of tempi ranging from a walk to the speed of gallop. There is much organization around the breed within the country. This leads to competitions pitting animals against one another for gait, as well as some racing. Winners of these competitions win not only prizes, but also breeding popularity.[3]


  1. ^ Slott, Dan (Autumn 1995). [edu/docview/205126612?accountid=11836 "The Joy of Riding: Iceland's Wonderous Horse"]. Scandinavian Review. Retrieved 12 April 2020. {{cite journal}}: Check |url= value (help)
  2. ^ "Horses of Iceland - The Official Site of the Icelandic Horse". Horses of Iceland. Iceland Tourism. Retrieved 12 April 2020.
  3. ^ Helgadóttir, Guðrún; Dashper, Katherine (17 January 2016). "Dear International Guests and Friends of the Icelandic Horse": Experience, Meaning and Belonging at a Niche Sporting Event". Scandinavian Journal of Hospitality and Tourism. Retrieved 12 April 2020.