What is Voltige or Vaulting?:
Vaulting or voltige is acrobatics on horseback. Vaulters perform gymnastic moves such as hand stands, leaps and somersaults while the horse is being lunged on a circle fifteen metres (49 ft.) in diameter or larger. Vaulting may be preformed by a team, pas-de-deux (one male and one female vaulter) or individually. In competition, both horse and vaulters are judged.
What is the Goal of Voltige or Vaulting?:
The goal is to perform gymnastics movements while the horse is being lunged with grace and harmony with the other vaulters and the horse. While competing there are several compulsory movements that must be executed. Vaulting is sometimes used as a form of therapeutic riding that helps develop body awareness, strength, coordination and balance.
Equipment You Will Need:
- A horse trained for vaulting.
- A vaulting surcingle which has grips used in the acrobatic moves.
- A person to lunge the horse--called a longeur.
- Suitable clothing that includes special vaulting shoes and tights or leggings.
Preparing Your Horse for Voltige or Vaulting:
Your backyard horse may not appreciate being stood or jumped on, so use caution if you're inclined to try this sport at home. Horses must be properly trained to safely and comfortably carry vaulters. If you would like to try vaulting with your horse your first step will be to join a vaulting club to learn if your horse is suitable. The first consideration will be your horse's temperament. Vaulting horses must deal with the vaulters sitting anywhere between ears and tail, mounting and dismounting while moving, standing and sitting backwards and forwards and many other things that aren't expected of a riding horse.
Preparing Yourself for Voltige or Vaulting:
The first step for you as a vaulter is to join a club. You'll practice gymnastic moves on barrels and mats before you get on the horse. You will learn the compulsory moves, the first of which is sitting astride the horse. You will learn how to use the grips on the surcingle and how to be safe.
What is the Benefit of Voltige or Vaulting?:
This is a very physically demanding sport but you need not be a rider or athlete to begin. Training will begin with your fitness level and age in mind. Vaulters must develop strength, balance, control, coordination, body awareness and grace. Teamwork is essential and the discipline to be there for your team and to perform safely is required. There is of course a social aspect to belonging to a vaulting club and the joy of performing and competing.
When I first began learning about vaulting, my first reaction was...no body is wearing a helmet! An article on the American Vaulting Society website states that vaulting is the safest of all equestrian sports. Three points of safety are always considered, and this they claim, is the reason for the excellent safety record.