FAQ on Smooth Gaits

Hi Smooth Riders. Goran Bockman here to help you.

Here is the place to leave questions on Smooth Gaits.

An Icelandics Fan
Admin of Greater Gaiter
Goran Omar Bockman

1. How do I cue for the Tölt?

Imagine yourself sitting on a swing. How do you start it swinging?

Exactly, you push your seat back and then dig down and Thrust it forward right?

That’s the exact seat cue for Tölt. Then keep repeating that dig/Thrust motion.


Try this sitting on a chair. If you can move the chair forward, or tip it, you’re doing it right.

Coordinate seat and hands

Not done yet tho. You need to coordinate seat and hands too. This is where it gets just a little bit tricky.

Before cueing for Tölt, start by positioning yourself a little further back, in the saddle. ½ to 1 hand’s breadth should do nicely.

How to collect the horse

You now want to raise the front of the horse, especially its neck, before giving the final cue for the Tölt.

How do you do that?

Essentially you collect the horse, by pushing your seat forward, and doing half-halts, every two or three steps.

Half-halt cause the horse to tread deeply Under itself. You will feel like you’re sitting on a slight slope, if right.

Halts/half halts with no pulling on reins

You may want to learn to do halts and half halts, with no pulling on the reins.

I’ve described how here; https://greatergaiter.com/dig-for-the-golden-gait-and-find-the-tlt

You will also feel your horse lowering its back, yielding to the pressure of your seat.

The horse is now well raised in front. It’s neck is markedly closer to your face.

Do you know the breed of this horse?

Is it a) Cape Horse, b) Icelandic or c) Tennessee Walking Horse?

Now you increase impulsion by digging deeper and pushing harder, with your seat.

Ready to launch

Your mount is now ready to go, from a very collected walk, to the Tölt. It is now increasing its speed slightly, in order to transition to Tölt.

This is the critical moment!

Are your hands ready to yield? You’ve done it so well and now you give the final seat push, for transition to Tölt.

Hands prepared to yield

Hands are ready to yield, as you feel the horse pushing forward.

Yield, not drop the reins! Yield just enough so the rein loses contact with the horse’s mouth.

The time between last seat push, and yield of hand, is just a fraction of a second, but it must be right.

A delicate balance

There’s a delicate balance. If you yield to soon the horse will lose its balance.

It needs the support of your hand, until the leading hind leg has reached far enough, under it, to support the weight of your horse.

When you feel the push yield

When it pushes off on that hind leg, you’ll feel that push transpose, into the saddle, and move you forward. That’s when you yield!

If your hands yield too late, it hampers the horses forward motion. In effect you are, then doing a half halt, and the horse doesn’t reach “lift-off” so no Tölt .

Practice and soon it will work

But don’t worry. Keep on practicing and soon you will find the correct timing.

It’s helpful, if you’ve tried other tolting horses, so you recognize what Tölt feels like.

Horse’s cue to you

It will feel like the horse’s back suddenly melts, under your seat. Then you will feel it rhythmically pushing your seat forward.

The first push is the horse’s cue to you. Yay we’re tolting!

Watch the video and note how the movements at Tölt pushes the rider to and fro. Low hands.

Stay active. Keep the form high

Taking its cue, you keep on digging/pushing, leaning just a twinkle backward. Make sure you maintain its neck well raised, by frequent heave half-halts.

Stay very active with the half halts and keep dig/pushing with your seat. Should the neck lose too much height, the horse will start to trot.

Don’t push too hard

If you push too hard, the horse may take it as a cue to lope. If it starts to trot, or canter, just bring it down to a walk again and start over.

Build Tölt muscles gradually

A horse that has had little training at Tölt lacks the correct muscles for it. For that reason, don’t ask for too long stretches of Tölt, in the beginning.

Just Tölt, maybe 10-15 steps and then gently bring it back to a walk, and start over. Not more than five to ten minutes the first few times. Build the muscles gradually.

Hope this helps and happy Tolting my friends!

Answer: The black Tolter is a…. Cape Horse! A South African Gaiter.

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