Vaulting is a competitive discipline in which 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.
Vaulting has been 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 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 consist of two rounds–compulsory and freestyle tests. During compulsory tests, vaulters perform seven designated exercises that are scored 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 a performance.
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. The vaulters most important teammate, the horse, must be a consummate athlete with good character, temperament and balance. Twenty percent of the overall score comes from his way of going. The horse is guided on a longe line by a longeur on the ground who ensures that a steady, true, canter is maintained on a circle with a minimum diameter of 15 meters while the vaulter performs.
Vaulting is a unique and growing sport with a rich heritage. It has been practiced by a myriad of cultures ranging across the continents and decades. Featured in the 1920 Olympic Games in Antwerp as “Artistic Riding,” it 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 an 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.
Discipline Association: American Vaulting Association
Information provided by the United States Equestrian Federation.