Equestrian vaulting is a sport that combines dance, gymnastics, and horse riding. Participants perform gymnastic movements on a moving horse individually or in teams. The sport has ancient roots and is still practiced by modern cavalry and law enforcement officers. The horse is controlled by a longeur, and the athlete must be flexible and strong. Vaulting is visually interesting and physically demanding, making it popular for entertainment and therapy programs.
Equestrian vaulting is an equestrian sport that combines dance, gymnastics and horse riding. Equestrian vaulting participants perform a variety of gymnastic movements on the back of a moving horse, individually or in teams. Vaulting, as it is sometimes called, is practiced all over the world, with German vaulting teams being particularly famous, and a wide variety of horse breeds are used in vaulting.
The history of vaulting is ancient and it may be one of the oldest equestrian sports. Evidence in the art suggests that people have performed gymnastics on moving horses since at least AD 1,000, and that the Romans integrated a form of vaulting into their cavalry training. Equestrian vaulting continues to be practiced by modern cavalry and mounted law enforcement officers, as a way to make riders feel confident and secure on their horses, and to create a bond between horses and riders.
In vaulting, the horse is controlled by a longeur, a person who stands in the center of the ring holding a long line known as a longe line. The athlete performs a variety of movements, including mounting and dismounting, on the horse’s back as the horse walks, trots, or canters around the longeur. In addition to being a good rider, the human athlete must also be extremely flexible and strong, capable of performing challenging gymnastic moves while standing on a moving object. Vaulting becomes even more complex when a team of runners is involved.
The competitive vaulting circuit showcases some of the best equestrian vaulters and demonstration vaulting is commonly featured in parades, circuses and other events, as the sport is quite visually interesting as well as being physically demanding. Some riders enjoy vaulting recreationally, either because they find it fun or because they believe it is beneficial to a training regimen for rider and horse.
In addition to being used for entertainment, equestrian vaulting is also a vital part of some equine-assisted therapy programs. Sport encourages the development of strength, flexibility and confidence, all characteristics that horse-assisted therapy aims to promote, and patients in physical and behavioral therapy often benefit psychologically and physically from contact with animals such as horses. Therapeutic vaulting is less physically demanding than other forms, but can still be a great workout, challenging the rider to their limits and encouraging the development of a strong, healthy body.