Keeping a horse going as a tolter.  This is a very much part of riding of Icelandic horses.  For myself, I find that it is very much part of the fun of these horses.  Just riding tolt is a pleasure and that can be the focus.  However, then there is also the horsemanship that becomes necessary to keep  horses tolting.  We can have a pure tolter,  but even the best tolter can change from time to time through time.  Horses can goe through their own cycles depending on how they are ridden.  Out of condition, maybe tired one time and not the next, or stiff in different ways that affect their physical or mental inclination.  Or maybe just plain not being asked to do it right. 

            All of this goes together, it is all part of the horsemanship here.  As we ride more we start to see that there are things in horsemanship that do matter in whether a horse goes towards trot or pace in tolt… in any horse.  It becomes part of the intrigue of riding to figure it out and work with it.  There is definitely process involved.  It is an aspect of why this breed is so engaging. 

            To my mind, when I first read the description of this gelding talked about here, I was thinking more what to do with him to ride him and get him going like he was when he was originally imported from Iceland and bought here in the new world..  That he was 5-gaited, tolted and now trots is real encouraging actually. 

            More likely, he is just out of shape and needs to be asked in method to do it well.  This gelding is obviously a good horse that just needs to be taken out, conditioned, probably loose some weight, ridden and asked to do it in a way that he will have some fun and can also do it more correctly..  By his description, he sounds like he has been well started and is safe.  He just needs to be given a riding chance. 


            Of course there are options…so either his owner/rider needs to get going themselves to learn better how to ride him or he ought to go to someone who will help him get it back or then go on to someone else who will take the initiative to really go out and learn how to ride.  I am sorry, these sound like edgy words here.  They are frank.  People can be provided with good horses, but really it is in their hands to make of it what is there.  The part of the rider in this can not be much controlled by a trainer or seller.  Mostly, we all do our best.  There is also a part of "buyer beware" in that the buyer needs to also do some work to figure things out too.


            To this end, I notice there is a really good article in Tolt Magazine just on this thing of riding for tolt.  I like the article very much because it starts to go more directly at preparing and riding tolt, on paper.  Not many articles can do this.  These are aspects that is more than round-penning stuff.  It is about riding: hands, seat and legs together making a picture of how it goes.  This is harder to do.  It is about crafting horsemanship.  It is about applying oneself.  I like the article because it is even harder to write about it well without just remaining or staying stuck in the head.      


            How to get there with your riding?  Pursue lessons and clinics and do lots of riding.  Methodical riding.  Then, as an option in addition, go to Iceland and ride on some of the longer horse treks there.  Lots of things will come together for you on these multi-day rides where you get to ride horse after horse.  These are the best lessons to be had on top of lessons and clinics.  One trekking place that does it very well is    I always encourage people that even as they might go back and forth to Europe, go on Icelandair and stop over enroute.  For instance, Eldhestar  is based right there out side of town complete with hotel accommodations etc.  They will pick you up from the Fly-bus as you arrive in Iceland and you can ride out directly even if only for a short layover.  It ends up being a great riding lesson for anyone in the process.