So you’ve heard of vaulting, right? And you’ve heard of equestrian sports? But have you heard about equestrian vaulting? We’re not just pulling your hoof here, it’s a real thing. As many horse sports do, equestrian vaulting started in Europe and hasn’t gained much popularity in the US. Even still, vaulting horse gymnastics takes an experienced human and equestrian athlete to pull off.

Equestrian Vaulting Explained

What in the world is equestrian vaulting?

Imagine this: you’re performing complicated gymnastics tricks and dances on top of a gymnastics vault. Okay, now take away the vault and add a horse. Good. Now the horse is slowly walking around. Then finally, the horse is in a brisk canter. There you have equestrian vaulting.

It’s not hard imagining the type of athleticism it takes to execute complicated horse vaulting moves on a moving horse. Equestrian vaulting takes as much gymnastics training as any other Olympic sport. Since the recognition of vaulting horse gymnastics by the World Equestrian Games, athletes have been competing in solo, duet, and team competitions.

Do you have the moves?

There are certain moves athletes must perform during equestrian vaulting. No, we’re not talking about dressage type movements. Below are some moves competitors are expected to display at least seven of during performance:

  • Vault On: Basically, the technical and fancy way to get on your horse
  • Basic Seat: Athletes demonstrate balance for four paces
  • Flag: Opposite hand to foot shoots straight out while on all fours
  • Mill: Swinging legs from one side of the horse’s neck to another
  • Scissor 1: Rider does a handstand and turns backwards on the horse
  • Scissor 2: Rider uses upper body to swing legs to forward facing position
  • Stand: Rider stands straight up on the horse

Keep in mind, during vaulting horse gymnastics, athletes are supposed to make their performance look effortless.

Do you have the look?

Anyone who is a fan of live horse racing knows we love dressing up. Athletes competing in equestrian vaulting are required to wear form-fitting leotards as to not allow their clothing to get in the way of the sport. You’ve watched the Olympics so you know how glamorous leotards can be, almost enough to put derby hats to shame.

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