**The Woodside Vaulters @The Horse Park! **

Do you have the strength to execute gymnastics on the back of a horse? 

I attended The Woodside Vaulters Spring Fling last month and for a newbie to that discipline, It was enlightening, exciting and sport to be seen! If you missed it...I wrote a short introduction on this training barn last month in  "Vaulting Anyone?"  . But after watching their competition show. I received a better understanding on what attracts and keeps the participants striving to excel. As a competitor myself, I could feel the energy in the arena.  The sense everyone competing couldn't wait till their turn to perform their routine. Each one showcasing all the hard work, put into practice.  
Recognized by the FEI (International Federation for Equestrian Sports)  aka (Fédération Équestre Internationale) and strongly established in Germany and Switzerland, Vaulting's origins go back a few thousands years!  A merger between (horse riding and Gymnastics) Each discipline really has enough meat on the bone to focus on one or the other but once combined it brings on a whole new level of complexity. As a competent rider one needs flexibility/agility/strength as well as at least basic knowledge of horse riding? Right? But don't worry ...all potential riders, start their quest for vaulting greatness on the ground! (a stationary barrel to be exact!) in order to hone all one's skills and moves before mounting and dismounting from moving horse!

Note: Vaulting competitions consist of compulsory exercises and choreographed freestyle exercises preformed to music. Most of the participants  vaulting do come from a horse riding background, be it Pony club or other disciplines. But the ability to ride a horse is not a prerequisite for Vaulting.     

As a spectator, the vaulters make it look effortless as they complete their compulsory exercises. Preforming in teams of two or individually. Judging is based on technique, performance, difficulty, balance, and consideration for the horse. With that said, the total score also includes marks given for the horse. They are judged on the quality of their movement as well as their behavior.  

What makes for a good vaulting horse?

There are a few things that a Head Longeur and or Horse Trainer would look for in a good vaulting horse.

  • Temperament
  • Conformation
  • Gaits
  • Training

As well as there are a few preferred breeds. For example, at the upper levels you will most likely see quite a few Warmbloods. Draft horses too! for their big size and level heads. Since temperament is #1 factor, a horse with a calm mind is key!

 

Sources & More information:

Sources: https://www.americanvaulting.org/startclub/selectinghorse.php
http://www.woodsidevaulters.org/#!our-staff/c1kdq
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Equestrian_vaulting
https://www.fei.org/fei/about-fei