Vaulting enjoys an ancient heritage and can probably be
described as one of the oldest-known forms of equestrian
sport. Often described as gymnastics performed on horseback,
vaulting’s origins can be traced back to Roman games which
included acrobatic displays performed on cantering horses.
Tracing history through the Middle Ages and the Renaissance,
many references to vaulting are made, and it was during this
time that the practice of “La Voltige” (drill riding
and agility exercises performed on horseback by knights and noblemen)
gave the sport its present name. Modern vaulting was developed in postwar
Germany as a means to introduce children to equestrian sport, and it
remains a popular training and competitive endeavor all across Europe.
Conversely, modern competitive vaulting is relatively new to the United
States. Vaulting did not make its way to the U.S. until the late
1950s and the first official competition did not take place until
1969. Since that time, vaulting has experienced significant
growth and expansion and is enjoyed by equestrian enthusiasts
of all ages. All vaulting routines – team, individual and freestyle
– are performed on the back of a cantering horse, traveling in
a circle and attached to a longe line.
Competitors are judgedon their ability to smoothly execute compulsory
movements demonstrating strength, flexibility and balance – making sure
to face all four directions and cover all parts of the horse from
neck to croup – during their routines. They are also evaluated on
the technical difficulty and artistic expression associated with
freestyle routines. Additionally, a portion of every overall score
is secured by considering the horse’s quality and consistency
of gait. Vaulting offers enthusiasts the opportunity to develop
coordination, balance, strength and creativity while working
harmoniously with both fellow teammates and the horse
itself. To learn more about the discipline of vaulting, visit the
American Vaulting Association at americanvaulting.org.