Vaulting is a rapidly growing sport which can best be described as ‘gymnastics on a moving horse’. The horse is controlled by a lunger and moves in a 15 metre circle. Most exercises are performed at canter, although practising difficult manoeuvres and some fun classes are done at walk.
The horse wears a bridle, with the lunge line usually attached direct to the inside bit ring, and a specially designed roller with two large handles either side of the withers. The roller is used to keep a large back pad in position and the handles enable the vaulters to mount and carry out various exercises on the horse with a great feeling of security.
With a qualified teacher and lunger, vaulting helps build up balance and confidence on the horse, as well as general athletic ability. You don’t need to be able to ride to vault, but vaulting can greatly improve your riding skills.
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Vaulting is an all year round sport, an indoor or outdoor arena is used for working on the horse (depending on the weather), along side the barrel or ‘practice horse’. In very bad weather a lot of work can be done on the barrel and in the gym. Barrel competitions are held in the winter when working with the horses may be slightly curtailed.
All vaulters have the opportunity to be involved with the care of the horse, without the responsibility or expense of owning one. A monthly subscription is paid to the vaulting club and the cost of tuition and caring for the horse is shared by the group.
Being part of a vaulting group is a lot of fun. With the use of music vaulters can work as a team, but there is also the opportunity for vaulters to perform individually as well as pairs or trios.
At competitions there is often a fun Fancy Dress class as well!
BBC Interview with Joanna Eccles