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Safety and Vaulting

With its Three Points of Vaulting Safety that distinguish it from the riding disciplines, vaulting is the safest of all the equestrian activities. The United States Pony Club states that "Safety is the first and most important application of vaulting." And, in fact, the safety of vaulting served as the basis for its introduction in the United States.

Competitive vaulting was brought to the United States from Germany by Elizabeth Searle in the late 1960s. (Vaulting is considered a prerequisite for riding in Germany; the country has more than 100,000 vaulters, and over half the German riders holding competitive licenses today were vaulters in their early years.) She attended a vaulting display at the Olympic Games of 1956 in Stockholm and realized immediately that the United States Pony Club would benefit from the inclusion of vaulting in its program in terms of safety, opportunity, preparation for riding, and fun. When Mrs. Searle took a position at a riding school with a high accident rate, she insisted that all pupils earn a proficiency certificate in vaulting before being allowed to join a riding class. The accident rate dropped dramatically.

With its stringent reporting guidelines for member clubs, the AVA has no reported concussions or deaths from vaulting (AVA Injury Summary Reports). And the AVA vaulting injury summary reports reflect literally thousands of contact hours of vaulting practice for its members. With a lower incidence of injury than dressage, most vaulting injuries are comparable to those seen in gymnastics and are generally composed of sprains. And while it can be a thrilling spectator sport, vaulting has a lower injury rate than many other everyday activities. With its long and rich history (vaulting started as a young person's activity in Northern Germany in 1930), the German statistics demonstrate the same high level of safety.

The AVA would like to thank the Free Spirit Vaulters of Santa Fe, NM for creating the content for this entire Safety section.

Read what Dr. Faulkner has to say about vaulting safety and headgear.