Icelandic Horse Connection

Icelandic Horse

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The tolt is a rack, which is an intermediate gait or easy gait of "gaited" horses. The easy gaits are either diagonal, square, or lateral; and the tolt is a lateral gait; even set down, but lateral pick up (meaning the lateral legs pick up closer in time than when they set down).

There are many intermediate gaits: rack, running walk, stepping pace, tolt, paso, sombreandando, paso llano, huachano, fino, corto, largo, foxtrot, tolt trot, pasitrote, and trocha. Each of these gaits has the same footfall: right hind, right front, left hind, left front which is the same footfall as the walk.

Some of the gaits lean more toward the trotty side on the sliding scale of square to swingy gaits, some lean more toward the pacey side.

As with many gaited horse breeds, Icelandic Horses can do other gaits besides tolt. In reality Icelandic Horses do a great many more gaits than those recognized for the breed. Not every individual horse does all of these, though most do several. Among Icelandic Horses there are those who do one or more of the following gaits: amble, flat walk, foxwalk, saddle rack, pace, stepping pace, running walk, rack, and foxtrot, in addition to the walk, trot, and canter.

The rack is one foot / two foot support, which means that at some point in a stride, the horse is supporting his body on one foot. This support alternates between one foot on the ground, and two feet on the ground. This is a very stressful gait to a horse, and it is one that requires speed.

The rack is lateral timing in pick up, and even timing in set down. In a "hreina" tolt, there is even set down, uneven pick up of hooves (lateral pick up) with a support pattern of one hoof, two hooves, one hoof, two hooves. In comparison, running walk is even pick up, even set down of hooves, with a support pattern of 2 hooves, 3 hooves in contact, two hooves, three hooves in contact.

In the rack/tolt the lateral hooves lift at the same time and set down separately. The beat is even 1-2-3-4. The rack/tolt has one foot / two foot support which means the horse jumps between his transverse pairs of legs (both front, both hind) so that there is a moment when all his weight is supported by first one hind foot, then by one front foot. This gait is very fast.

The saddle rack, a slower version of the rack, is not super fast, has even setdown, lateral pick up, two foot / two foot support sequence, instead of one foot / two foot support as in a true rack.

In the tolt/ rack, the two foot support can be two foot diagonal or two foot lateral starting with (1) right hind alone, (2) right hind and right front, (3) right front alone, (3) right front and left hind (diagonal), (4) left hind alone, (5) left hind, left front (lateral).

There are a lot of variations in gaits as they actually appear as opposed to pure definitions. Switching from one foot to another can be "marched" (also called stepped) or "leaped" (also called jumped) which is the one with suspension. Stepping or jumping to another foot can make a gait feel quite different!

In the tolt / rack the switching of the foot from one transverse to another is "jumped"--there is some suspension. In the running walk, it is stepped--no suspension, which makes the running walk a smoother gait due to the smoother transition between transverse feet! The runningwalk also has two foot / three foot suspension.

The fox trot has diagonal support during each stride. This provides better balance for the horse than the more lateral gaits because the center of mass of the horse does not shift from side to side during periods of diagonal support. This diagonal balance is coupled with low concussion in each step, since at all points in a stride either two or three legs are weight bearing.

Some riders enjoy high speed equestrian sports and that suits their personality. If the horse gets out of control, it doesn't bother them. With others having a well trained calm relaxed horse is rewarding and is what we are aiming for. Having a run on a well trained balanced horse can be fun, if horse and rider are going together, because the run has been asked for, and you know when you ask for stop, you get a stop, drop the reins, and walk off on a loose rein.

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