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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.
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. These gaits are greatly valued. Gait competitions are held for both four- and five-gaited horses. The quality, form and tempo of the gait are evaluated. Horses that perform well in these competitions, especially five-gaited ones, are held in high esteem and are in demand for breeding. There are also speed contests.
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