About the gaits, and a training manualNo method works on all horses, and generalizations regarding horse training are rarely true. There are few magic tricks that work with every rider and every horse, except thinking, wondering, learning and experimenting. If you work on the same problem in the same way for months, it is time to question whether there is another way to reach the same goal.
There is endless interest in the tölt. After all, that’s one of the primary thing that makes the icey’s so great, besides the other 102 good reasons for loving icey’s. The tölt is a four-beat lateral gait in which there is always at least one foot on the gound. As there is no moment of suspension this gait is very smooth and comfortable for the rider.
The footfall of tölt
Here in this description:
1 = left hind foot
2 = left front foot
3 = right hind foot
4 = right front foot
In Iceland we talk about three types of tölt:
Clean tölt (tölt, hreint tölt, single foot, rack), with perfect four-beat. The beat you hear is 1-2-3-4-1-2-3-4-1-2-3-4 as each of the four legs step down.
Trot-tölt (brokk-tölt, fox-trot, trotty tölt), where you hear almost two-beat even though the horse is tölting. It becomes more up-and-down to sit on, and it’s a mixture between tölt and trot. The horse wants to trot and does it if given free reins when brokk-tölting. Then the beat is still four beat, but nearer trot, you hear 1–2-3–4-1–2-3–4-1–2-3–4.
Pacy tölt (bundið tölt, skeidtölt, stepping pace), where you hear two-beat even though the horse is tölting. It becomes more from side-to-side to sit on, and its a mixture between tölt and pace. The beat is still four beat, but nearer pace, you hear 1-2–3-4–1-2–3-4–1-2–3-4
You can think of the gaits as being on one fluid line, with trot and pace on each extreme:
_________________________________________________________________ trot trot-tölt clean tölt pacy tölt pace
When a horse is doing clean tölt, it is doing the same footfall as in walk. The difference is that in walk a horse is standing on 3 feet once in a while, when a horse is standing on only 1 foot in tolt. Both trotty tölt and pacy tölt are considered faults in the icelandic horse. Other faults in tölt include:
Rolling: A small hop in one of the front legs, as a horse is getting nearer canter, then the beat is 1-2-3-hop4-1-2-3-hop4.
Víxl: When a horse mixes gaits in such a way that the horse tölts, but because of tension it does a mix and it feels like it is jumping an inch in in loose air for a split second an then it tolts again. The footfall there is very complicated and I’ll spare you an explanation, as vixl is rather rare. It is extremely uncomfortable to sit víxl.
Pig-pace (lull, slow pace) where the horse is pacing, but so slow that you want the horse to tolt, not pace. The horse is very stiff in movements doing this and you are thrown from side to side in the saddle.
Right –>Tölt ridden in balance and coordination, and the movements of the horse are smooth. Toppur from Hömluholti.
Here is a short description about how tolt is ridden. It is difficult to discuss how to ride tolt, as individual horses are very different. You learn much by using every oppurtunity you have to try riding different icelandic horses, and trying how you have to change your riding in many minute ways riding them. The same horses can have, and usually have, different footfall in the tolt depending on many things, like how they are ridden, in what shape they are, on what kind of ground they are tolting, whether they are riding up or downhill, how fast they are going, and more.
As the footfall is similar in walk and tölt, you often let the horse tolt from walk. As the horse carries its neck higher in tolt than in walk, you shorten the reins a bit before and while the transition is done. Usually it is easier for the rider to tolt the horse if the rider sits a bit backwards in the saddle, that is, sits mabe an inch or two behind the point where he usually sits. The rider has to take care not to tilt backwards, the legs and back should be straight as usually, and relaxed. So, in the transition from walk to tolt, the rider:
1. Moves a bit backwards in the saddle.
2. Shortens the reins.
3. Encourages the horse to go faster, with a verbal clue and with the lower leg.
4. When the horse has tolted a few steps usually you give it again a bit of rein (an inch or so), so it can move freely inthe neck, but keep neccesary reincontact. The hands should be like rubberbands, have reincontact without stiffness.
Now comes the difficult part, that when you’re riding the tolt, you want to let the horse keep on having the neck raised, but at the same time you don’t want to have the horse bracing against you, so that it’s mouth becomes unresponsive. You do thus keep the reins rather short but use half-halts and playing with the reins to get the horse to keep it’s raised position without stiffening against the reins.
So that the horse can tolt well, it needs freedom in the withers (that is why you move the weight backwards and encourage speed so that the horse powers from its behind, and that is also partly why goey horses are popular in Iceland, this is more natural for them). It also needs to carry its neck rather high but the faceline may not be too horisontal, or too vertical. The horse raises it’s neck naturally if it is properly collected and is in a good shape. You do not want the horse to raise it’s neck without collection, that just results in an eve-neck and bad or no tolt. The horse is collected, not like a dressage horse, but collected anyway, using their behind as a motor to push the light front end forward, free the withers and allow the horse to balance it self, not lean on the reins. If the horse does not know how to collect, teach it collection at the walk, and later (weeks later) try keeping that collection at the tolt.
If you find that the horse is loosing the tolt, and goes from tolt towards walk or wrong footfall (pacy or trotty) the simplest way to correct this, that works in most cases, is to use half halts. You take and give with the reins, and you give a bit of leg, then you’re asking the horse for collection without the leg resulting in the horse actually going faster. Very often it is enough to play a bit with the reins to get the horse into correct beat again.
Remember that the effect of the reins are really just as long lasting as the “take”. When you take the rein, you’re working with the rein, but if you keep on holding the reins stuck and stiff the horse gets stuck and stiff back. So, you give again, and if needed, you take again, and then give again.
Find the ideal speed for your horse to tolt clean (or almost clean). All horses have a speed where it is easiest for them to tolt clean. For pacy horses this is usually medium-speed, for trotty horses this is usually slow or fast tolt. As they get more training, you can tolt them slower and faster than this particular speed without loosing clean hoof-beat. But this is also the reason that it is often problematic to tolt-train horses with bad tolt-balance in a group, because each of them might need to tolt in different speed to be at their best.
Find the ideal ground for your horse to tolt on. Usually it is best where the ground it not very soft, it is more difficult for the horse to tolt as the ground gets softer. Keep though in mind that tolting for long distances on asphalt is straining for the legs of the horse.
The horse needs to be soft in the mouth to tolt well, do everything you can to keep your horse soft and responsive in the bit. Avoid a dropped back and eve-neck, because that leads to a tense body and stiff or no tolt. The softer you are, the softer the horse is, and the softer the tolt is.
The saddle needs to fit well for the tolter, and sit right, or he stiffens up to brace himself against pain.
Many horses tolt better going slightly downhill (again, extremes are bad). It is difficult for most horses to tolt clean uphill, and riding a horse uphill in tolt either teaches the horse nothing about tolting or makes the tolt worse. Tolt (or walk) on horisontal or downhill, trot (or walk or canter) uphill. But as with everything, you can not generalize about every horse, experiment with your horse whether it works best going up- or downhill, or on flat land.
Improving a horse that lacks balance in the tolt takes time in many cases. Be patient, good things happen slowly, and do not get frustrated even though the training takes weeks or even months. Teaching a piggy-pacer to tolt can take riding him 4-5 times a week for 3-6 months. If it happens fast, be overjoyed, but brace yourself for a long training period. Give your horse at least 3-4 rides per week for 2 months if you really want to change it’s tolting.
But the most important thing, if wanting to improve the tolt in your horse, is working on getting the horse more athletic. Tolt problems are often caused by stiffness in the horse, and lack of collection, so all methods that help your horse be more athletic help you to improve it’s tolt.
Problems in getting the correct tölt
Of course, ideally there would be no problems. But as some horses and riders have problems getting a perfect 4-beat tölt, what can be done?
Cleaning pacy tölt
Cleaning trotty tölt or getting a trotty horse to tölt
Asking for faster or slower tölt
Shoes and weights
Trot is a two-beat diagonal gait (diagonal pairs of legs move together) which has a moment of suspension in which there are no legs on the ground.
How trot is ridden:
Very often 5-gaited horses, or horses that are a bit tense, not knowing how to relax the neck, have problems with trotting. The problem is often accompanied with their training history, and is one of the reasons why it is so important to ride a horse you are starting in lots of trot, not much tolt or pig-pace. So, horses have different talents to trot. If the horse’s first choice of gait is trot, it is usually enough to give it a bit of free rein, and encourage it to go at the right speed to trot. If the horse does not trot easily, let the horse walk, lean a bit forward to move your weight a bit more over the horse’s withers, hold the reins rather low and loose and encourage the horse softly to go faster (preferably with your voice). It is a good habit to touch the top of the withers lightly at the same time with your hand. The horse learns soon that this is a clue that it is supposed to trot, not tolt.
Encouraging the horse to trot by leaning a bit forward with a bit loose reins during the transition from walk to trot. This horse can trot with a bit high head carriage, other horses have to learn to carry their neck lower to be able to trot.
If the horse doesn’t want to trot:
If the horse declines from trotting, how you sit can be important. Often a horse tenses a bit feeling the “bump” from you on it’s back, so that it takes just 2-3 trot steps and then does not want to trot more. If the horse does that, both sitting the trot, and posting the trot can be something the horse can’t take at this stage in the training. Then it is best to lean a bit forward, in such a way that your weight is 1/3 in the stirrups, 1/3 in the knees, 1/3 in the seat, and when the horse trots be careful not to give any new clues with your feet or the reins, just sit still this way. When the horse is starting to trot for a while like this, maybe for 50-100 metres (150-300 feet) or more, pet the horse, even give it a treat or a breather, whatever to let the horse know this was the right thing.
<-- Dividing the weight
Conditions that encourage the horse to trot:
Exersise: Many horses do not want to trot in the beginning of a tour, but when they are warmed a bit up, they relax and trotting becomes easier. If you ride for a very long time though, some horses get tired and it is again more difficult to trot, it starts rolling or something. Find the ideal length of the tour for your horse.
Hills: It is more natural for all horses to trot uphill. Sometimes 5-gaiters, that have a hard time trotting, if you let them trot uphill, they start to roll in the trot. In these cases it is sometimes the solution to try to trot them in all kinds of levelness, that is to say it is sometimes easier to let them trot downhill or on level ground. Just experiment.
Ground: Riding on soft ground, in snow, and uneven ground, encourages the horse to trot. Also riding over poles. When going over very uneven ground, pigpacers find that they have a tendency to stumble, so they choose the trot instead.
Rein-contact: Use long reins, don’t ask the horse to go in a collected walk or collected trot untill it’s really well balanced in the trot.
Weights: 10 mm shoes or boots (as light as possible and for as few rides as possible to achieve the goal) encourage the horse to trot. It is though better to use heavy weights (250 grams, 8 ounces) for a few rides, than light weights that have little or no effect for a long time.
Relaxation: Help the horse not to be tense, and be sure that nothing is hurting it. Check that the saddle fits, that the feet aren’t sore etc.
Speed: Find the speed where it is easiest for your horse to trot, whether it is fast or slow.
Straight road: It is more difficult for a horse to trot when turning, riding a bend etc.
Saddle placement: Put the saddle a bit forward, not so much that it hurts the withers though (freedom of movement must be enough there).
Teach the horse to relax the neck, it is difficult or impossible for it to trot with a raised neck. When the horse is learning to trot, help it to relax, and become soft in its body with softening exersises (turning, sidestepping, backing etc.). Ride it a lot in trot, so that it gets more balance and freedom in the trot and learns the clue about the hand on the withers.
When the horse has gotten balance, after 15 rides for example, start sitting or posting the trot (whatever you are used to doing), and later to take some reincontact. Remember that a child first has to learn to crawl before it starts to walk.
A 5 gaited horse, trotting at liberty. Dögg from Halldórsstöðum at Langhús.
If a 5-gaited horse doesn’t want to trot in a paddock or arena (only tölts or paces):
A 5-gaited horse very often avoids trotting, a lateral gait is it’s first choice of gait. With many 5-gaited Icelandics it’s very hard, even impossible, to ask them to do dressage in the trot, because they’ll simply go into tölt.
If the horse avoids trotting, it is even more difficult for it to trot in a pen, because the horse has to turn frequently, does never go uphill, the horse often has to trot too slow for it’s ability, there might be a teacher or something yelling and disturbing him, and the ground material in the pen might be counter-effective to trotting.
The problem also with a horse that avoids trotting, is that to trot effectively it has to lower it’s head, but if you stop the horse with the reins it influences the horse to raise it’s head. Everything that tenses the horse slightly works in the same way. So, over all it might be worth a thought, whether it’s worth the effort at all to go through the frustrations involved to get such a horse to trot in a pen, especially if it trots well on the trail.
But, what can be done? First of all, put heavy boots (maybe 8-9 ounces) on the horse. Only use them for one or two lessons if it’s enough, just to help you two to get over the initial obscacle. The boots are not to be a future crutch, only a small help to help the horse feel comfortable trotting. When the horse responds reasonably well (or at least, has made a tiny progress) to trotting with boots, take them off.
Often these horses trot when lunged, then it’s worth a try to lunge them, first with a saddle on, then with a rider that does nothing, only sits there with his weight forward and light seat, and tries not to interfere with the horse, to get it used to trotting with a rider on his back. A big part of the problem is that you have to get the horse’s mind used to trotting in this place.
When you ride it in the pen, ask it to trot (remember to use long reins), and when it tölts, ask it to walk, just long enough so that it can go into a relaxed walk (preferably just ca. 4 steps, longer if nessesary), then ask for trot again. Give as slight and relaxed clues for trot as you possibly can get away with. If it’s enough for you to think trot, for the horse to go faster, just think “trot”. When you ask it to walk, preferably only use a word clue, or/and relax in the seat, do not use the reins, because then you’ll hardly get the horse out of the raised-neck frame. Do this again and again and again, untill you’re so sick and tired of it you could throw up. Use the straight stretches as you ask the horse for trot, as it’s likely that it can’t trot through the corners to begin with. Some horses respond to you taking them out of balance by asking them for trot while letting them do a 300-360° turn, but they’re a bit of exceptions, it’s worth a try though. It you feel no repsonce, stop doing it and work on the straight stretches. You are not rewarding the horse by putting him into walk again, because you’re constanly interfering with the horse by asking walk-trot-walk-trot-walk-trot etc… the horse wants to get a pause and be allowed to walk for a longer time but you don’t allow it to do that, you only let it walk for as short a time as you can get away with.
If the horse trots well for a small stretch, try asking it for walk before it stops trotting (so that it knows it was the trot that was rewarded), and now reward it with a longer period of walk, maybe half a minute.
A relaxed walk is also nessesary when working with this, if the horse is tip-toeing in a pacy and quick walk it’s very unlikely that you’ll get it into a trot, it will then just go from walk up to tölt. If it´s is walk is tense in the pen, start by working on that. If you get the horse easily into trot, but then it speeds up out of it, keep working on asking it for walk and straight up into trot again. Sit very very quietly in the saddle once it trots, and don’t interfere at all or do anything (don’t say “good boy”, don’t post, don’t do anything, because if you do that it raises it´s neck up and looses the trot, it needs to learn to relax in the paddock). Remove distracting and stressful objects if you can (people and other horses included). Do the walk-trot transitions for a longer time, when you’ve worked on this for an hour it’s likely that you’re both so sick and bored of this that the horse will be trotting for a longer time. Do this for a period, and don’t work on the tölt for a few lessons, after warm-up only work on walk and trot for a few lessons untill the horse trots consistently. Boredom is the key. It’s okay if the horse goes into the middle of the school, let it go in what ever direction (as long as it’s not too uncontrolled), just as long as you get the trot out of it. Work at one thing only for a while, to get it to trot in this place. Finer nuances in the riding can be worked on later, once the horse trots consistently.
The thrill of the flying pace. Seimur from Víðivellir fremri.
The pace is a two-beat lateral gait in which the pairs of legs on the same side move together, and there is a clear moment of suspension. This is a fast gait used for racing over short distances, and the horses can reach 30mph.
Pace, very simply put, is 4 footfalls,
1. The horse steps in both right legs at the same time
2. The horse flyes, does not touch the ground, is suspended.
3. The horse steps in both left legs at the same time
4. The horse flyes, does not touch the ground, is suspended.
And then the footfalls repeat themselves.
But this is just the simple version. Some icelandics do not manage the true pace, thus doing a slower pace that is often called piggy-pace, and that is exactly this footfall. It is usually uncomfortable to sit on, you are thrown from side to side. Also, when an untrained eye and ear looks at the true pace, these are the footfall the person sees and hears, the beat is just dagg-dagg-dagg-dagg-dagg very clear two-beat.
But, if a horse that goes fast at pace does just this, it is usually in danger of not managing the pace, and going from pace to cross-canter.
So, a good pacer (and most pacers at competition level) is a tiny bit 4-beat in the pace, thus having 8 footfalls. These are the best pacers. But if the 4-beat is clear enough to be heard, the horse gets low score in competition, or even no score, as he is then considered doing pacy tolt.
The footfall of a 4-beat pace:
1. The horse steps in left hind foot.
2. The horse steps in both left feet at the same time.
3. The horse steps in left front foot.
5. The horse steps in right hind foot.
6. The horse steps in both right feet at the same time.
7. The horse steps in right front foot.
And then the steps 1-8 repeat themselves (if the rider and horse are good enough : )
Riding the flying pace
The clues for riding the flying pace seem rather simple, but are in fact among the most difficult things a rider can do. The horse simply has to be ridden long, stretched forward. But doing this is complicated as the clues have to be done fast and precise, and if they’re not done right, the horse doesn’t repond as it was meant to do. It is also important to have a certain “feeling” towards to what you want to do. The best way to get this feeling is to ride as many horses as possible, horses that are easy to pace.
You can get the horse to pace in two ways, either by riding tolt, and then allowing the horse to stretch forward into the pace, or by cantering the horse and then doing the pace.
You are in greater danger of ruining the tolt (making it pacy) by doing the pace by allowing the horse to stretch from the tolt.
Either way, the horse has to be allowed to strecth, and it has to be urged forward with the seat, the legs and the voice.
You give a clue with one of the reins, shorten it and give it again. When clueing with the reins, you have to take the rein and give it again, the clue has to be quick and short. Do not hang on the reins. Do not jerk on the reins. An instant after the clue with the rein, urge the horse forward with your feet, the seat and the voice.
To make the transition clearer to the horse, it can help to sit lightly (stand in the stirrups) while cantering, then sitting smootly down as you clue for pace.
Find the side which is easier for the horse to pace from, that is, the side which you give the clue with the rein on. It is best to pace from the lead which the horse is cantering on, that is, if the horse is doing a right canter, give the clue on the right rein. Usually one side of a horse is stronger than the other. If the right side is stronger, the horse wants to go into right canter, and then you clue the right side, and vice versa. The other rein is held rather neutral but with contact, not too loose, not too tight.
To be sure which lead the horse is cantering on, it is often good to do the canter/pace transition in the corner of a track, just as you enter the straight side. Make sure you are choosing the lead which the horse prefers.
When the rider feels that the horse begins the sideways pace movements, the rider holds the hands/reins rather low. If the rider feels the horse beginning movements that are nearer to canter, the rider has to give the rein-clues untill the balance comes again. If the rider doesn’t respond to those canter-movements, the pace soon becomes more irregular untill the pace changes totally into canter, usually cross-canter.
Very often it helps the horse to sit a tiny bit heavier on the opposite seatbone to the clueing rein. That is, if the horse does right canter, you give a clue with the right hand, and move your weight a tiny bit to the left (take care, no exaggarations). Usually it also helps to sit a tiny bit behind the usual place in the saddle, that is, you move your seatbones a bit backwards. But to keep a good balance and follow the movements of the horse well, it also helps to lean a tiny bit forward at the same time. This sounds very comfusing, but it helps to study wery well pictures of riders doing the flying pace, how they balance their weight in this weird way. Holding tight with your knees (not nessesarily the lower leg) at the same time also helps you to keep this position, and free the movements of the horse’s back at the same time.
When slowing the horse down after the pace, try to slow down to tolt or even trot, and then walk. Try as hard as you can to prevent the pace-ride ending in canter.
Common faults in riding the flying pace are:
The rider hurries too much.
The rider uses too coarse clues.
The rider hangs on the reins.
The horse is pacing, but the rider keeps on clueing, thus disturbing the horse.
The rider doesn’t encourage the horse enough, so it slows down.
The rider glides too much forward in the saddle, or gets left behind (balance comes with practising).
Training the flying pace
Not all horses are good pacers. Many horses are 4-gaited, and have no hope of pacing. Other horses want to pace all the time (pig-pacers) and they are rarely good pacers, as they don’t take big enough steps or have the nessesary tendency for 4-beat in the pace.
All horses that are ridden in pace and like it, are thinking very often about it. They get “heavier” on the reins and do more pace-like tölt. Usually it’s best to ride pace SELDOM. When you for example start riding the horse after the autumn break, ride it in tölt and trot only (if you ride 3-5 times per week) for the first ca. 3months. Then try pace once in a while, for example once a week. Usually its best to let the horse pace always on the same place in the riding tours. Then the horse knows that on other places it should go in some other gait than pace, and the pshycological problem of wanting to pace, mostly or only occurs on that spot. Most horses need to be well stabilized in tölt and trot until they are mature for the pace. Often horses are shown pacing on shows as early as 4 years old, but that usually means troubles later in keeping all the gaits good. Do not start letting your horse pace until 6-7 years old (preferably older), then he will stand on better grounds to tölt clean in the future. The flying pace is very difficult and the horse needs to be strong and have stamina to endure it. It is good that the horse has good stamina, and is ridden a lot (a bit long tours) on a relaxed, medium-speed tolt with a clean beat. A paceracer should be trained so that he can go relaxed and with good carriage in all gaits, in a rather clean beat. Exersises like stopping, backing and sidestepping are good (exessive dressage-training does not do much good though).
It is good for a paceracer to be paced for a short distance, and after that, be allowed to relaxed in a relaxed ride. It is also good to ride a bit long stretches in relaxed canter, both left and right canter.
You want the horse to be neither stressed nor lazy, keep that in mind all the time when training it, that it does neither turn into a bundle of nerves nor fall asleep.
When training pace, pace seldom (so the horse doesn’t get bored or filled with anxiety), short distances (30-50 metres, that is 90-150 feet), and not too fast (to make it less likely that the rider looses the horse into canter). It is enough to pace 1-2 times per week, not every time you ride the horse. Do not train the horse in pig-pace.
Put some protective boots on the front legs of the horse before pacing, or it can hurt itself seriously, and even doesn’t want to pace ever again.
Faults in pace and what to do:
Tension, anxiety in the horse. Do not train pace much, give the horse a time off, or ride it relaxed and for long distances.
The horse is too lazy. Ride short rides, keep the horse awake while riding it, ride a lot in tolt (not trot or canter). Pace seldom. Ride in a group or ponying a horse. Do not make the horse tired.
The pace has too much two-beat. Use heavier shoes on the front feet, and try to let the horse carry itself with a bit more raised neck. Use boots as weights if nessesary.
The pace has too much four-beat. Use lighter shoes on the front feet, and try to let the horse carry itself with a bit lower neck (stretching more forward). Use light protective boots, so they don’t make the pace more four-beat.
The pace is mixed with canter (rolling). Give short clues with one rein, but when rolling stops, carry the reins low and still again.
The horse doesn’t want to start pacing. Ride longer in relaxed canter, and begin the pace from slow canter.
The hind legs hit the front legs. When the hind feet are shoed, have the inner heel of the hind legs a bit lower (cut it more) than the outer heel. Ride the horse with protective boots.
You are showing, but the horse doesn’t pace to the end of the 250 metres, then it slows down. Wait, train the horse more, pace for short distances, take care that a horse that doesn’t have enough stamina because lack of training or young age can get bored and disgusted by the whole idea of pace.
The canter/gallop is a three-beat gait with a moment of suspension. In the Icelandic horse-language canter and gallop is counted as a single gait.
If the horse paces when you want to canter
First of all, if you haven’t practised letting your horse trot, you’d better get your to trot. Asking a 5-gaited horse to canter from tolt, will often make it tend to flatten out to pace, and if it canters from pace, it will cross-canter. Then ask for canter from the trot, that might be enough to help it. If the goes into pace from canter, letting it go in faster canter/gallop, will help it get a balance in the canter. Often the 5-gaiter simply can’t handle the slow canter without learning it and getting balance in it first. As time passes, and the horse is doing a nice fast canter without dropping into pace, start asking it for slower canter.
Then ask it for as slow canter as it can handle without pacing, doing faster canter once in a while.
This way, the horse will learn, as time passes, what you are asking of it, and also learn to keep it’s balance in the slow canter, without gliding into pace.
When slowing the horse down after the canter, try to let it as soon as possible do something else than pace, let it slow down to walk, tolt or (best) trot.
Canter. Fengur from Hvol
If you know the difference between right and left lead on the canter, notice which lead the horse prefers. If it for example prefers the right lead, shorten the left rein and encourage it forward with the right foot, when you ask it for canter. That will help it start to canter, as you are helping the horse use the lead it prefers. Sometimes it’s even nessesary to do a turn, in this case you’d be riding on the right side of the road, then turning to the other side of the road, encourage with the right foot, and speeding up to gallop (at the same time taking care that the horse doesn’t think it is supposed to gallop out of the road).
A slow four-beat gait in which there are always at least two feet on the ground. Most Icelandics have an extremely good walk which covers the ground very well.