Around the Water Trough

Getting Started in Vaulting

By Amanda Brazzell, Reverie Equestrian


FEI Vaulter, Dusti Hausman practicing on Chimera, SWB  [Photo by Andrea Selch]

FEI Vaulter, Dusti Hausman practicing on Chimera, SWB

[Photo by Andrea Selch]

While most horse enthusiasts are content to sit atop their horse and pursue their equestrian endeavors, there is a select group of individuals who want to push the envelope a little further.

From the child who can’t resist the temptation to stand on their horse and sit backwards to the one with an inner dancer or gymnast who wants to combine their passion for horses with their love of tumbling, equestrian vaulting is the perfect sport. 

Junior vaulter, Mallory Brazzell; and her horse, Chimera, a SWB gelding  [Photo by Alex Thomas Photography]

Junior vaulter, Mallory Brazzell; and her horse, Chimera, a SWB gelding

[Photo by Alex Thomas Photography]

If you are the parent to one of “these kids” or an adult who shares the above qualities - how do you go about embarking on this adventure?

The best first step in learning if vaulting is a good fit is to seek out a local vaulting club and watch a practice. The American Vaulting Association (AVA) has a listing of clubs by geographical location complete with contact information on their website - www.americanvaulting.org.

Most clubs have set practice schedules as well as individual lesson availability.  It is most common for practices to be organized by skill level and include practice on a barrel designed specifically for vaulting. The barrel is utilized by vaulters - even World Equestrian Games (WEG) competitors - to learn and perfect skills before and in addition to practicing on the horse. Horses are typically shared by multiple vaulters and since all mid-upper level vaulting is performed at the canter it is important to conserve the horse.

There are AVA and USEF sanctioned competitions held throughout the U.S. Attending a competition is another great way to learn about equestrian vaulting and see a range of skill levels in one location.

Many vaulting clubs also perform demonstrations at area horse shows, events and fundraisers in an effort to both expose the public to vaulting and train their horses in front of crowds. Your nearest club should be able to let you know of any nearby opportunities to watch their vaulters perform.

FEI Vaulter, Mary McCormick, and horse, Paris  [Photo by Tim Sutherland]

FEI Vaulter, Mary McCormick, and horse, Paris

[Photo by Tim Sutherland]

While attempting vaulting moves on your own steed may seem like fun, it does take a special combination of athleticism, mindset and several years of training to become a trustworthy vaulting horse. Vaulting horse training is best done by experienced vaulters and lungeurs so a horse’s first experiences are positive and harmonious.

If you dream of your horse becoming your vaulting partner, a good first step is to incorporate correct lunging into your weekly fitness routine and then seek out the help of professionals.

If there aren’t any clubs in your area, check out vaulting on YouTube. Just be sure to type in “equestrian vaulting”.  If you are most interested in squad vaulting - check out the routines from NOROC (a French Team) or the recent 2018 WEG Champion German squad. For individuals you can’t go wrong with Kristina Boe, Mary McCormick or Lambert Leclezio. 

Vaulting has so much to offer both riders and thrill seekers - if you’re curious, reach out!  Vaulters are always excited to share their unique sport, and like all horse people more than happy to chat on end about what really draws us all in and doesn’t let go … HORSES!