The US Equestrian (USEF)/American Vaulting Association (AVA) Vaulting National Championships were held on August 7-11, 2019, at The National Equestrian Center in St. Louis, Missouri. Dusti Hausman captured the Female Gold Individual championship, while Mikhail Proctor claimed the Male Gold Individual championship. A composite squad from Mile-High Vaulters and Pacific Coast Vaulters won the A Team championship.
Hausman Gets Her Gold Goal
Hausman (Waxhaw, N.C.) won the compulsories with a score of 7.343, the freestyle 1 with a score of 7.737, and freestyle 2 with a score of 7.895 on her way to an overall score of 7.343 and the gold.
Hausman, 29, who vaults with the Triangle Equestrian Vaulting club out of Hillsborough, N.C., has been competing at the National Championships since 2004. The Female Gold Individual title has been one she’s coveted. “It’s been a goal of mine for a long time,” said Hausman. “I’ve been vaulting for almost 18 years, so it’s exciting to win gold. The only national championship I’ve won before was the C Team championship years ago, so it’s exciting to finally win the Gold Women’s championship.
“It doesn’t come easy to vault at this level. You have to be so consistent, and it’s a lot of work with the horses,” she continued.
Hausman vaulted on two horses throughout her weekend at the National Championships, Andrea Selch’s Canaday Z, a 10-year-old Zangersheide gelding, and Amanda Brazzell’s Chimera, an 18-year-old Swedish Warmblood gelding. “I started the [vaulting] training of both the horses I vaulted on this weekend,” she said.
She used Chimera, a horse she’s been working with for four years, for her compulsory round. “I know him very well,” Hausman said. “He’s very sensitive, so he’s worried sometimes about the sounds in the arena. I didn’t know how that was going to go, but he got very comfortable very quickly and we had a good round. I had some personal goals that I’ve been working very hard toward all season and got those accomplished, which was very rewarding.”
For her freestyle rounds, she vaulted on Canaday Z, with whom she’s been working just this year. “He’s very new to the competition arena; he’s only been competing at this level for the past few months,” she said. “We had no idea how he was going to go, but my good friend and coach Mary McCormick, who is also a former national champion, longed him for me. We were able to put in some really good goes—not high in difficulty, but very clean and artistic. Harmony with the horse was really our goal, and I think that was good.”
Hausman trains with McCormick and Christoph Lensing, and when she’s not vaulting, she works as a licensed massage therapist, focusing on bodywork for athletes.
Second place in the Female Gold division went to Emma Milito (Brighton, Colo.) with a compulsory score of 7.327, freestyle 1 score of 6.338, and freestyle 2 score of 7.430 for an overall score of 7.032. Elsa Haugen (Hillsborough, Calif.) claimed third with a compulsory score of 7.167, a freestyle 1 score of 6.778, and a freestyle 2 score of 7.110 for an overall score of 7.018.
Proctor’s Work Pays Off with a Win
In the Male Gold division, Mikhail Proctor (Lexington, Ky.) claimed the win. He scored 6.263 in the compulsory, 6.315 in freestyle 1, and 6.610 in freestyle 2 for an overall score of 6.396 and the title. It was Proctor’s first appearance at Nationals at the Gold level.
“This has been a time of transition and re-setting of goals for me, so this was a stepping-stone in that direction. I’ve been focusing a little bit more on myself and doing more training on my own, and it’s paying off,” said Proctor, 30.
Proctor coaches the Fleur de Lis Vaulters out of Lexington, Ky., and trains on his own, without a regular coach. “I’m pretty much a self-trained equestrian,” he said. “I have come up the levels just working hard, a lot of it just through sheer willpower. That’s how my whole equestrian life has been—training my horse myself and doing everything myself.”
Proctor was competing in show jumping and training other riders in that discipline when the facility where he worked started a vaulting program in 2012, and he got hooked. “I did a clinic with Devon Maitozo, and I realized that if I was going to do it, I needed to really do it,” he said. “So I decided to start training. I was a former gymnast, so I had a good, solid base of knowledge for vaulting. A lot of it came naturally to me.”
He owns the horse he won on, Goliath, a 13-year-old American Warmblood gelding. “I’ve done all his training myself. He’s a rescue horse from the Kentucky Equine Humane Center. He was one of my project horses while I was an intern there and I ended up adopting him in 2011,” Proctor said.
“He was just my fun horse. I’d taught him the basics of riding, and then we tried vaulting one day and he decided that’s what he wanted to do, so we just kept training from there,” said Proctor.
Proctor works as an equine anesthesiologist. “I spend my days in equine surgeries, and after work, I go see my horse,” he said. “We do some conditioning training, I have a friend who lunges for me if I’m going to be vaulting, and on Saturdays, I trailer him to another facility where my students come and train.”
The family atmosphere at Nationals is something Proctor treasures, and he appreciates all the vaulting clubs that helped him learn. So, when the Mile-High/Pacific Coast team weren’t able to ship their horses to Nationals because their horses were under quarantine during a Vesicular Stomatitis outbreak in Colorado, he offered for them to use Goliath for their A Team competition and longed him for them.
“My horse had trained with teams before, but he’d never done an A Team, so that was a good milestone for him, being able to carry that. I was very proud of him,” Proctor said. “I like that aspect of vaulting, that everyone’s so gracious about helping each other out.”
It A Came Together in the Team Competition
Milito,16, scored a silver medal in the Female Gold division individually in her first National Championships at the Gold level, but she also helped the composite Mile-High/Pacific Coast squad, which was also made up of Daniel Janes (Moss Beach, Calif.), Courtney Madden (Loveland, Colo.), Danica Rinard (Fort Lupton, Colo.), Emily Rose (Santa Cruz, Calif.), and Geoffrey Woolson (Tujunga, Calif.), take the win in the A Team division with Proctor longing Goliath.
Milito has been vaulting since she was four. “My mom heard about vaulting at college, so she signed me up, and I fell in love,” she said. She’s been competing at Nationals since 2011, when she was six and had won the B Team championships in 2016 and 2018.
“I’ve been looking forward to this Nationals for a long time. I’ve been waiting to be competing in Gold and A team since I was five,” Milito said. “This squad was a composite team with Mile-High and Pacific Coast vaulters. They were some of the best vaulters in the country, so to be on a squad with them was pretty incredible.”
Milito also vaulted on the U.S. Team Squad at the FEI Vaulting World Championships for Juniors on July 24-27 in Ermelo, the Netherlands, where the team came away with bronze. “We came back with a lot of confidence. It was a little bit stressful coming back from Juniors, having a lot of eyes on me, but since I’ve been wanting to compete in Gold for a long time, I just told myself to have fun,” Milito said. “It was the best set of compulsories on a borrowed horse that I’ve ever done. In the Gold class, I was the only one under 18, so I feel like that was an accomplishment to be second.”
The Mile-High/Pacific Coast squad not only had a vault on a borrowed horse, but they also had to get to know one another quickly. “Of the six people on the squad, five of us practiced together for two days before we left, and the other one person we met up with at the competition,” Milito said. “Our goal was just to perform our best! We had fun routines that we thought were enjoyable to watch.”
For more information on the USEF/AVA National Championships, visit americanvaulting.org.