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A Brief History of Vaulting
Some trace the origins of vaulting to Roman games, including acrobatic displays on cantering horses. Others see roots in the bull dancers of ancient Crete. In either case, people have been performing acrobatic and dance-like movements on the backs of moving horses for more than 2,000 years.

Renaissance and Middle Ages history include numerous references to vaulting or similar activities, and it seems apparent that present-day gymnastics performed on the "vaulting horse" was developed from vaulting—allowing concentration on the gymnastics without (unfortunately) the horse. The present name of the sport comes from the French "La Voltige," which it acquired during the Renaissance, when it was a form of riding drill and agility exercise for knights and noblemen.

Perhaps vaulting's most prominent recognition as a form of equestrian sport in more recent times was its inclusion (as "Artistic Riding" by cavalry officers) in the 1920 Olympic Games.

Modern vaulting was developed in post-war Germany to introduce children to equestrian sports. In 1983, vaulting became one of only seven equestrian disciplines recognized by the Federation Equestré International (FEI), and the first FEI World Vaulting Championships were held in Switzerland in 1986.

Vaulting in America and the AVA
American vaulting can be traced to 1956, when Elizabeth Searle first saw the sport during a visit to Europe. Seeing a potential application for her pony club in California's Santa Cruz County, she obtained a 16mm film of the basic exercises, and took it back to America.

Later, in 1966, the American Vaulting Association was founded by Searle and J. Ashton Moore, and in 1969, held the first official AVA competition at the Santa Cruz County fairgrounds in Watsonville, California. In 1974, U.S. vaulters participating in the first international exchange in Stuttgart, Germany.

AVA members demonstrated vaulting at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, and again at the Atlanta Olympic games in 1996.

Today the AVA has more than 1,000 members in 100 AVA clubs and affiliates from Hawaii to Massachusetts, and Washington to Florida. Originally focused solely on competitive vaulting, the AVA today has programs for all types of vaulters, from recreational and pony club vaulters to therapeutic vaulters, from beginner to world championship levels.