What is Equestrian Vaulting

Vaulting or Equestrian Vaulting can be described as the performance of Gymnastics on the back of a moving horse which is  done either as an art form performance or as a competitive sport. It has been an equestrian act where a wonderful use of horsepower is exhibited.  Out of the seven equestrian disciplines recognized by the International Federation for Equestrian sports, Vaulting becomes an integral part by fostering excellent co-ordination and stability on the horseback. Vaulting at times are conducted as an activity for adults and children with deficits of balance, gross motor skills or other social skills which is widely known as Therapeutic vaulting.

In the competitive sport of vaulting, the vaulters compete on the horse back as teams, pairs or individuals. The vaulting horse is controlled and managed by a person who is generally referred to as “lunger” or “longeur”. This person is also responsible to stop the motion of the horse whenever there is a problem with the horse, or the equipment or even with the music. A Longe whip is used by him to have a control on the speed of the horse and the circle size, the horse is moving.

There are traditionally seven compulsory exercises that are demonstrated in the sport of vaulting. They are –

  1. Basic seat- This refers to the sitting position which is generally similar to the normal sitting position of a rider, with hands raised to the ear level and legs wrapped round the horse’s barrel, toes down and arched feet. This is referred as an astride position.
  2. Flag- The vaulter makes this movement by hopping to his knees, with the right leg extended behind straight and parallel to the spine of the horse, whereas the left leg remains in the kneel down position with the weight distributed so not to hurt the horse with knees. Simultaneously the left arm is also raised forward at line with the right leg extended.
  3. Mill- Here the vaulter makes a complete turn of 360-degree on the back of the horse in timed phases wherein each leg is stretched high over the horse and the upper body remains straight and centered. With each pass of the leg, the vaulter’s body and head rotate, while the lower leg is kept down, stationary in contact with the horse.
  4. Scissors- This movement is a rotation around the body axis vertically simultaneously with movement of stretched legs. It is done in two phases and the vaulter finally finishes it erect and softly.
  5. Stand- As name implies, the vaulter here starts with a kneeling position and further hops onto the feet and stands with weight distributed evenly, with legs close and head facing forward.
  6. Flank- This is the final dismounting exercise done in two phases wherein a straight body axis is used to reach vertical position. Completing both the phases he does the landing on the outside of the circle.

It should be noted that all the above exercises begin from an astride position. Apart from the above, score also goes to mounting of horse. Vaulting proves to create a great mutual relationship between mankind and these fine animals.