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Vaulting FAQs

Equestrian Vaulting is for everyone!

If you love horses, dance, gymnastics and fun, equestrian vaulting wants you! Brought to the United States more than 35 years ago from Europe, vaulting is one of the nation's most exciting and creative sports.

What is equestrian vaulting?
Vaulting is a unique and growing sport which combines dance and gymnastics on a moving horse. It's a wonderful way to develop coordination, balance, strength, and creativity while working in harmony with the horse.

Who can vault?
Anyone! Vaulting programs are not for only competitive teams, but include recreational groups, Pony Clubs, 4-H Clubs and therapeutic vaulting programs.

Is it like trick riding or circus riding?
No. Vaulting is always done in a very controlled environment—in a fully enclosed arena in a consistent, large circle, in soft footing, with the horse attached to a "longe" line and controlled by a trainer (called a longeur). The horse, longeur and vaulter work as a team, with the longeur controlling the horse, the horse performing at a continuous gait (either walk, trot or canter, depending on the vaulter level). The vaulter performs a series of gymnastics and dance moves on the horse as it moves in its circle.

What kinds of horses are used for vaulting?
Many different breeds and sizes of horses can be used for vaulting. The best vaulting horses are calm, strong, fit and kind, with a consistent gait.

Do the horses like to vault?
Our horses love to vault! Chosen specifically for their disposition, vaulting horses are also in excellent physical shape, and are given lots of love and attention by their trainers and their vaulters.

Is vaulting a team or individual sport?
Both! Vaulters may participate individually, in pairs, or as part of a team. In team competition, up to three members of the team are on the horse at once, doing a variety of moves.

What if you don't own a horse?
No problem! Since vaulting is a team sport as well as an individual one, most clubs own and train the horses. All vaulters have the opportunity to be involved with the care of the horse, without the responsibility or expense of owning one.

At what age can you start vaulting?
One of the beauties of this terrific sport is that vaulters can be pre-schoolers or adults—and any age in between!

Is vaulting safe?
Yes. Many factors contribute to the safety of our sport including the fact that the horse is controlled at all times by an experienced, trained longeur. Vaulters are taught to condition their bodies with stretching and strengthening exercises, and are also taught safe mounts and dismounts at all levels. Also, most exercises are learned on a stationary apparatus, called a vaulting barrel, before they are performed on the horse. Learn more about vaulting safety.

Does vaulting have a season?
Vaulting is a year-round sport, and an indoor or outdoor arena is used for working on the horse (depending on the weather).

What are some of the skills that vaulting helps develop?
  • Coordination
  • Balance
  • Strength
  • Creativity
In addition, vaulting teaches a whole set of "soft skills" that can't be overlooked—
  • Teamwork: Vaulters learn to work together with both the horse and longeur; and in team competition, with each other as well.
  • Responsibility: Vaulters are responsible for a variety of horse duties each lesson (depending on vaulter age and level). These duties might include brushing, feeding and watering the horse, putting the equipment on the horse, walking the horse to cool it down after a lesson, and cleaning out the horse's stall.
  • Trust: Vaulters learn to trust their longeur, their horse, and, most importantly, each other. As vaulters mature in the sport, trust in their teammates also grows.
  • Self confidence: How does one not have self confidence when you can stand on the back of a moving horse!
Do I have to know how to ride a horse to begin vaulting?
No, you don't need to be able to ride to vault, but vaulting can greatly improve your riding skills.

Where can I vault?
Almost anywhere! You may connect with a local group or begin your own group. It's easy! If you're interested in starting a club or becoming a coach, contact the AVA for instructional materials and the name of an established local group that can help you get started. If there is no one near you, the AVA will help you find an experienced coach who can provide support via email, phone and clinics.