Vaulting is a combination of gymnastics and dance on the back of a cantering horse. It has often been described similar to ice-skating as there are seven compulsory exercises, a technical programme and a free-style programme.
Vaulting was recognised as an FEI discipline in 1983 and featured as a demonstration sport at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. Vaulting is now practised by both men and women, competing together on teams or separately as individuals.
- Team events: A vaulting team consists of a lunger, horse, six vaulters (male and female) plus one alternate vaulter (optional) who must enter and line up with the team. Team competitions are made up of two rounds. During the first round, teams perform a six-minute compulsory and a four minute freestyle test in an attempt to qualify for the second round where they perform a single free test. An exercise will only be scored if two vaulters are in contact with the horse as it is carried out. No more than three vaulters may be on the horse at any one time.
- Individual events: Individual competitions are made up of two rounds. Vaulters perform the compulsory and free tests in the first round in order to qualify for the final/second round. In CVI1* competitions these two tests are repeated in the second round. In CVI 2* the second round is made up of a technical test and a freestyle test. Individual vaulters have only one minute for their freestyle performances. At Championships, men and women compete separately.
- Pas-de-deux: Two vaulters, a male and a female, perform a freestyle programme held over one or two rounds.
International Vaulting competitions are referred to as CVI and may be 1* or 2*. The main Vaulting competitions are the FEI World Equestrian Games (WEG) held every four years and the biannual Continental Championships and the annual Junior Open European Championships.
Vaulting in Ireland
Vaulting is still quite an unknown sport in Ireland, though it has a good following in England, Scotland, Germany and the US. In 2009 Charlotte Rimaud who had been training and competing in France on a national level, became Ireland’s first vaulter and competed in Saumur, France, in April as an Irish Competitor. Charlotte is the grand-daughter of Jim Marsh (formerly of the Irish Turf Club and the Curragh Racecourse). Horse Sport Ireland hopes to see an increase in popularity of vaulting as an equestrian activity in Ireland in the coming years.
For more information on vaulting please visit the Equestrian Vaulting Ireland website www.equestrianvaultingireland.