The Icelandic horse is one of the most beloved purebreds, brought to Iceland by Norse Vikings. Once an Icelandic horse leaves Iceland, it can never return. Amongst its many wonderful qualities, it is cherished for its strong spirit, beautiful colors, and unique natural gaits—tölt (the world’s smoothest horse gait – also written as tolt) and flying pace.
Being fans of Icelandic horses, we’ve compiled our top 5 recommendations for events featuring the incredible Icelandic horse.
1. Beer Tölt
We love horses and we try to ride them wherever we travel. Having ridden different types of horses—British to Turkish—the Icelandic horse ranks as our number 1 favorite because of its tölt, the world’s smoothest gait that only it (and no other species of horse) is naturally capable of. Experiencing the tölt (or tolt) was like gliding through the wind and the only thing that can top that is a beer tolt. A beer tölt is an event that shows off the Icelandic horse’s ability to glide so smoothly that a rider on its back can hold a pint of beer and not spill a drop.
Beer Tölts are frequently organised all over Iceland and you can even organise your own—we did and we had a blast as you can tell from our video (above).
Due to the great accessibility and amusement of beer tolts, we’ve ranked it first on our top 5 events featuring Icelandic Horses.
2. Laufskálárétt Horse Corral
One day, we would love to return to Iceland to attend the Laufskálárétt Horse Corral as it’s the most traditional and epic of all Icelandic Horse Events. It’s an event not done for show although the sight of hundreds of horses being escorted home is so glorious, it almost feels like one is watching a film. To be a part of this cinematic experience, visit North/Northeast Iceland in September and walk/ride with owners as they gather their horses before the winter so as to care for them after letting them roam free all summer so that nature can nourish their free spirit. The horses’ homecoming is celebrated with partying involving music, dance and alcohol. All interested parties are welcome to join in the festivities and even ride horses—all for free.
During the summer, you can join horse riding tours that typically cost between 5000-1000ISK/hour all around Iceland. We thoroughly enjoyed our horse riding with Doddi and Helgi, featured in our videos, and definitely recommend that you experience for yourself, the exhilaration of riding Icelandic horses.
3. Icelandic Horse Day
Icelandic Horse Day, a day that honours the great Icelandic Horse. On this day, stables all around Iceland have an open-house to teach visitors all about the Icelandic Horse. Watch our interview with horse owner, Doddi, to learn what he shared!
4. Landsmót, The National Icelandic Horse Competition
Landsmót is the pinnacle of sporting events in Iceland. It’s a bi-annual competition showcasing Iceland’s best riders/horses (and the Icelandic horse’s 5 natural gaits). The most anticipated event is none other than the Tölt Competition. Enjoy the tölt, the world’s smoothest gait.
5. World Championships
This is probably the most dramatic of events. It is the stage upon which the best of the best Icelandic horses/riders compete every odd year in one of the member countries in Europe, and it’s also a grand farewell as riders cannot bring their Icelandic horses back to Iceland. To part with one’s best mate/mare is definitely one of the most heartbreaking commitments contestants have to make. :’(
If you can’t make it to an official event, you can always create your own event by simply visiting Iceland and its horses. Believe us, your encounter with Icelandic horses is bound to be eventful. Riding an Icelandic Horse is definitely one of our most amazing experiences in our lifetime and we hope you get that feeling of conquering the world atop an Icelandic horseback—it is the symbol of awesomeness.