The sport of Vaulting is a competitive discipline where both gymnastic and
dance elements are combined and performed to music on a cantering horse. It
requires a harmonious relationship with the horse and outstanding physical
condition from the vaulter; these two elements are imperative if a display
of strength, co-ordination, rhythm and balance is to be achieved.
As an FEI recognized discipline since 1983, vaulters compete regionally,
nationally and worldwide as individuals, pairs -- called pas-de-deux -- and
teams. This variety of events creates an engaging competition for spectators
as they watch athletes of all ages perform breathtaking routines that include
artistic mounts and dismounts, shoulder stands and handstands on the horse,
carrying or lifting another vaulter, kneeling and standing exercises. All
vaulting competitions are held over two rounds composed of compulsory and
freestyle tests. During Compulsory Tests vaulters must perform seven designated
exercises that are scored on criteria on a scale from 1 to 10. Freestyle tests,
performed to music, allow vaulters the artistic freedom of building both
dynamic and static exercises to create an artistic performance. Each vaulter,
pair or team creates their own routine to music of their choice.
Judging is based on technique, form, difficulty, balance, security and consideration
of the horse. Today, horse, longeur and vaulter are considered a competitive unit
and the performance of each is reflected in the final score. Vaulters most important
teammate, the horse, must be a consummate athlete with good character, temperament
and balance being essential as 20% of the overall score comes from his way of going.
The horse is guided on a longe line by a longeur, standing on the ground, who ensures
that a steady, true, canter is maintained on a circle with a minimum diameter of 15m
while the vaulter performs.
Vaulting is a unique and growing sport with a rich heritage, it has been said to be
practiced by a myriad of cultures ranging across the continents. It was featured in
the Olympics in the 1920 Games in Antwerp as Artistic Riding and has since evolved
into the sport many participate in today. Vaulting is a wonderful way to develop
coordination, balance, strength, and creativity while working in harmony with your
equine partner, it is used around the world as an introduction to the equestrian
world and is recognized as a technique for developing strong riders in all disciplines.