Head to an Icelandic horse show, and you’ll likely see riders zooming along the track looking as though they’ve just dashed away from a bar.
The beer tölt is a fun, quirky equestrian game. Riders saddle up their trusty Icelandic horses and set off, mug of beer in hand. They then put their mounts through their paces while trying not to slosh their brew all over the place. At the end of the game, the rider who spills the least then gets to drink the most (nonalcoholic beverages such as root beer are used in kids’ versions).
The whole point of the game is to both test the riders’ skills and show off the steadiness of the tölt, the breed’s unique gait. Icelandic horses are famous for this lateral, ambling four-beat stride. It’s an incredibly comfortable movement for riders, letting them remain fairly still in the saddle while their steeds cover ground at a zippy pace.
Besides the walk, the tölt is the gait where equestrians are least likely to spill their beer, as the trot and canter are far less easy on the rider. Some will also put their horses through the “flying pace,” another smooth gait that can reach up to 30 miles per hour.
Where to Try It
Friðheimar FarmFriðheimar, Bláskógabyggð, Selfoss, IS-801, Iceland
This farm features various horse shows, including the beer tölt.