Safe Horsemanship in Vaulting
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This chapter is an excerpt from the AVA's Introduction to Equestrian Vaulting, revised in 2013 specifically for beginning coaches and clubs. .

2.1 On the Ground
  1. The instructor should never assume that the students know how to behave around horses.
  2. It is far better to repeat explanations or directions than to chance an accident..
  3. On the first day the instructor should stress basic safe horsemanship practices.
    1. Explain to the students how a horse sees so that they will understand why they must follow certain procedures while vaulting and working around the horse.
    2. Explain how to approach a horse and the importance of speaking to him when first approaching or at any time he might not be aware of your presence.
    3. Teach vaulters how to lead and tie a horse correctly. Emphasize that the horse must NEVER be tied by the bridle or the lunge line. Donstrate how to lead and tie a horse correctly. In subsequent lessons vaulters can be taught how to lead and tie the horse with supervision and they can be given opportunities to practice those skills.
    4. Teach vaulters how to pat, praise, and reward a horse. When the work is finished, let vaulters feed the horse tidbits, such as carrots or apples with the permission of the horse owner. Explain that it is always better to place treats in a bucket or tub than to hand feed.
    5. Vaulters should be taught to groom and tack up the horse. Demonstrate how to groom and tack up the horse safely. In subsequent lessons, with supervision, vaulters should be encouraged to participate in these activities with emphasis on the safety of the vaulter and comfort of the horse.
    6. Insist that the vaulters NEVER "fool around" or "rough house" near a horse.
    7. Carefully discuss where a person should not be in relationship to the horse. Do not stand or run directly in front or in back of the horse.
    8. Also discuss what the vaulters should not do to the horse:
      1. Do not fuss with his nose, mouth, eyes, or ears.
      2. Do not touch sensitive spots around the stomach or prod him in the flanks.
      3. Do not land heavily on his back.
      4. Do not dig in with elbows, knees, or heels.
      5. Do not attempt to make him go by clucking, kicking, or hitting. Controlling the horse is the longeur's responsibility.
2.2 On the Vaulting Circle
  1. If vaulters are attentive, organized, and efficient in their movement around the vaulting circle and in the taking of turns, the practice will be safer and much more will be accomplished with the time and horse energy available.
  2. The following procedures should be used on the vaulting circle:
    1. At the beginning of class, before the vaulters go to the vaulting circle, the instructor should establish an order of go. It should be followed throughout the vaulting lesson.
    2. Each vaulter, at his turn, should go into the vaulting circle to the lunger just after the horse has passed, NEVER IN FRONT OF THE HORSE.
    3. This vaulter should stand directly behind the longeur until it is his turn to go out to the horse.
    4. As the vaulter on the horse is preparing to dismount, the lunger signals by raising the whip so that the vaulter behind him can pass under the whip, run along (but not touch) the lunge line to the horse, and, facing forward, come into stride with the horse's forelegs.
    5. As soon as the previous vaulter has dismounted, the next one should be prepared to mount. An empty horse is a waste of the horse's energy and practice time.
    6. While this change is occurring, the next vaulter in line should move from the edge of the vaulting circle to stand behind the lunger as in b above
    7. After dismounting, the vaulter should return to the line-up by following the vaulting circle in the same direction of the horse. The vaulter must remain a safe distance from the back of the horse.

© American Vaulting Association 2013
Published by the American Vaulting Association

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The American Vaulting Association disclaims all warranties, express or implied. It is your responsibility to evaluate the accuracy and completeness of all information, opinions, and other material in this book. First Edition, 1981 (Camps and Clubs Manual) Revised Edition, 2004 (Camps and Clubs Manual), 2013 (Introuction to Equestrian Vaulting)

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