The tölt is the characteristic ambling gait of Icelandic horses, the unique breed you find in Scandinavia. I had the opportunity to experience their unexpectedly smooth motion on my horse-riding trip in northwest Denmark. These pony-sized horses—who are surprisingly strong for their stature—were brought to Scandinavia by the Vikings, and bred in isolation for over a thousand years.
My steed was named Fagur—his name meant picture and he truly was a picture-perfect Icelandic; his coat was a seal brown colour and his mane thick and long, falling so densely over his eyes it was a wonder he could see. For four days we rode on windswept moors, over heather-clad dunes, along wild North Sea beaches and through sun-dappled forest trails. Fagur loved speed. He would tölt or canter if I gave him the slightest sign—a gentle squeeze with my ankles. And the moment we were on smooth terrain, he would break into a gallop—and sometimes even the flying pace, the other unique gait of Icelandic horses. He would go so fast, his legs would become a blur.
I was on a luxury horseback holiday organised by Jesper Finderup. In the mornings, we would explore different paths and trails. We would stop at forest clearings where Jesper’s wife Rikke, a gourmet chef, would meet us with delectable picnic lunches.
Back at Jesper’s farmhouse, the evenings would begin with champagne, wine and sumptuous snacks. We would sit out on the patio drinking, nibbling and chatting until we were called inside for a delicious candlelit dinner. The day would end with a trip to the beach for dessert, topped by a late-hour sunset. The Finderups truly gave us a taste of hygge (or fun) and Nordic luxury—with generous helpings of friendship.