Thursday, July 21, 2011

On Vaulting...

I found out there's a vaulting school here in Austin, that's where this was filmed at. It also got me to thinking about vaulting. Here are my assessment's so far:

It's BEAUTIFUL to watch.

I asked the girl why they didn't wear helmets in vaulting (I have always wanted to know why that was!) and she said that it was because 1) "vaulting is the safest equestrian sport", 2) it throws them off balance. I'm sorry, but I would be scared poopoo-less if I was standing on a cantering horse without some form of protection! I know "Fabio" is probably quite bombproof, as all vaulting horses probably are, but still! At least she wears a helmet when she rides.

Vaulting is supposed to be very good for balance, and it will definitely help you develop a feel of where the horse is underneath you: something great to know when riding!

According to studies by the FEI, vaulting horses tend to be the happiest, and they are definitely crossed trained, including upper level dressage and hunters (often both!) I mean, LOOK at the muscles and expression on those horses! They have to be truly round, otherwise you'll be riding on a hollow wreck! The horse for Team France in the video link below is one I would LOVE to ride!

It's pretty cool and at the same time terrifying to watch. Let us look at, for example, a small child at the top of a human pyramid upon a galloping horse in a very loud and crowded arena (ignore the costumes, they are French). Cool and terrifying!

I am also loving the Daft Punk music they used (think Tron: Legacy, because they helped to compose the soundtrack!)

And I've always wanted to point this out: it looks like an extremely awkward sport. You are constantly groping your teammates!

But really, I don't know much about vaulting. I had little success in gymnastics when I was a child. I still can't do a cartwheel or a backflip! I can barely somersault without feeling like I'm about to crush each of my vertebrae, because I do it too slowly and cautiously!

Vaulting is probably quite mysterious to us saddle-sitters. It confounds us and fascinates us, or just plain makes us want to say, "What are you? CRAZY?"

Thoughts on "the other white meat" of equestrian sports?

Oh, and vaulters: I really admire what you do. That takes guts and some natural talent that only very few have. And, like I said earlier, to see a horse and rider doing something like that is quite beautiful.


  1. I know one person who vaults and there is a international competitor in my area. I have stood on a horse at the walk and tried some other positions in a surcingle, but I do not get vaulting. I miss the connection with the horse. Maybe actual vaulters would tell me that there is one, but I thought that the horse is supposed to ignore the gymnastics on his back and focus on the handler.

  2. I have always wanted to try vaulting. I can do the bareback mane swing up on any horse (my record is a 19hh Clydesdale) and I did handsprings off a stationary horse last summer, but I'm really not a coordinated person by nature. I wish there was a vaulting school local to me. I'd take it up in a heart beat.

    And just for funsies... here's the aforementioned handspring:

  3. I can imagine the horse would be focused on the handler mostly, but I'm sure they are aware of people moving around on their back. I think it's more of the vaulters putting full faith in the horse's balance and training so they can focus on taking care of themselves haha!

    I have always wanted to learn how to swing up onto a horse. One would think that with my long legs I could it, but I just can't seem to. Of course, I have not tried in a while. I can stand on a standing horse, and Greta will let my slide off her butt!

    Crazy handspring!!!

  4. I vaulted as a kid because my instructor had everyone practice it as a way to build confidence on a horse's back and great balance. It's super fun and you can pretty much do it with any horse that has a relatively flat or well-muscled back. We did it with the Friesian gelding we had in for training and sales.... even though he was really WAY too bouncy to be a good vaulting horse, it was a major selling point that he let people crawl all over his back and hang off the sides! The people who bought him purchased him with his vaulting tack. Now I am looking for a new surcingle so that I can have young students practice on our pony!

  5. Sweet! And YAH, I would definitely buy a Fresian that let me crawl all over his back! Greta will let me climb all over and (it's dangerous, I know!) slide down off her back over her tail, but that's about the extent of what I can or will do on her haha!


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