"Vaulting in fact owes its beginnings to military training in ancient Greece. Its original premise was the need for balance when in battle and, when one’s hands were full of weaponry, it was probably very useful! Whilst Vaulting probably won’t save your life any more, it is still an important equestrian discipline, best described as a spectacular gymnastic performance whilst moving on a horse. ”
What is Vaulting?
Recognised as an FEI discipline in 1983, Vaulting is practiced by both men and women, competing together on teams or separately as individuals. It is a competitive discipline where both dynamic and static gymnastic elements are combined and performed on a cantering horse. It requires both outstanding physical condition from the vaulter and a harmonious relationship with the horse if the ideal display of strength, coordination, rhythm, suppleness and balance is to be achieved.
Vaulting exercises include artistic mounts and dismounts, shoulder stands and handstands on the horse, carrying or lifting another vaulter, kneeling and standing exercises. The horse is guided on a long rein by a longeur standing on the ground, who ensures that steady canter is maintained on a circle with a minimum diameter of 15m. Judging is based on technique, form, difficulty, balance, security and consideration of the horse.
All vaulting competitions are held over two rounds composed of either one or two tests. During Compulsory Tests, vaulters must perform a number of specific exercises. Freestyle tests performed to music allow vaulters the artistic freedom of building both dynamic and static exercises around the Compulsory exercises. Today, horse, longuer and vaulter are considered a competitive unit, and the performance of each is reflected in the final score.
About the horse
It takes a very special kind of horse to become a vaulting horse; good character and temperament are essential. The Vaulting horse does not have to be pretty and elegant. Instead, there are a few essential physical criteria it must fulfill. It must have a wide chest and strong legs and, since some of the exercises are done right on the neck, it is better if the neck is short and thick. The horse must also be very fit as it has to canter for extended periods. It carries a great deal of weight and does not mind that the weight keeps changing.
Dress & Equipment
Vaulters wear form-fitting clothing and gymnastic shoes in the interest of safety and in order not to impede their exercises. Team competitors dress must be uniform and the dress of the lunger must be in harmony with that of the vaulters. The equipment of the horse consists of a girth-like band called a surcingle, side reigns and a bridle with a snaffle bit. A foam or gel back pad is also often used.
- FEI World Equestrian Games (WEG)
- FEI World & Continental Championships
- Junior Open European Championships
International Vaulting competitions are referred to as CVI and may be one or two starred (1* or 2*)