Moving With Horses


Equestrian vaulting is an uncommon sport involving horses and gymnastics. Vaulting has been around or thousands of years, even being traced back to the Roman games where acrobatic displays were performed on cantering horses. Vaulting became a popular training and competitive sport in Europe. Vaulting didn’t come to the US until the late 1950’s and the first official competition in the US took place in 1969. Vaulting is not only the safest equestrian sport but is also safer than riding a bike or playing soccer. Even without helmets, vaulters are taught how to fall/bail off the horse correctly to decrease injuries. Genna Downen, a gold vaulter says that learning how to fall has helped her prevent injuries. Downen has only gotten hurt a few times even though she has taken too many falls to count while vaulting.

Vaulting is both a team and an individual sport. Vaulters have the options to compete in individual, where vaulters do a set of comusories and a freestyle. They can also compete in pas de deux, an event where two vaulters are together on the horse performing different moves that use the both of them as one. Vaulters can also create a team freestyle with six vaulters in total, only three vaulters can be on the horse at any given moment so the vaulters change out, getting on and off the horse.  Bronze vaulter Rachel Scott, says, “ The thing I love most about vaulting is the relationship between the vaulters, everyone is friends and we all help each other.” Compulsories are a set of moves that all have a certain look that you should achieve to get a higher score. There are three different types of compulsories 1 star, 2 star, and Gold two star. Freestyle requires the vaulter to move all over the horse with moves anywhere between the croup and neck of the horse. Bella Fetters a silver vaulter loves competing in competitions because she loves connecting with other vaulter and competing and showing off something she loves doing.  There are six basic levels of vaulting: walk, trot, copper, bronze, silver, and gold. In the levels of copper, bronze, silver, and gold, the horse is at a continuous gait of canter. The horse is lead on a longe line by a lounger and/or coach in a continuous 20 meter circle going left or right. Coach and gold vaulter Heather Haugen says, “I really love vaulting for many reasons. It helps young boys and girls trust themselves, their teammates, and the horses deeply. It also creates a unique sense of community and accomplishment. We never achieve anything in the sport alone. We always share all wins and loses with our horse, lounger, and coaches. It makes Failure less harsh and success that much sweeter!”