OBJECTIVE OF EQUESTRIAN VAULTING: Receive the highest score by performing various acrobatic maneuvers with excellent technique while on a moving horse.
NUMBER OF PLAYERS: 1-3 individuals per horse
MATERIALS: Unitard, vaulting pads/saddles, surcingle, lunge line
TYPE OF GAME: Sport
OVERVIEW OF EQUESTRIAN VAULTING
Equestrian vaulting combines the two distinctly unrelated sports of gymnastics and equestrian all in one! If seeing incredibly acrobatic feats of balance and mobility wasn’t already entertaining enough, how about seeing those same tricks done while on a moving horse?
- Vaulting pad: A specialized saddle that allows competitors to have a better grip and a leveled surface while moving around on the horse.
- Surcingle: A strap that wraps around the horse’s body fit with two large handles for vaulters to utilize during their routine.
- Lunge line: A very long rope held by a “lunger” who sits in the middle of the competition ring, leading the horse in a consistent circle.
In terms of attire, most competitions require vaulters to wear form-fitting unitards, as judges must be able to easily see a competitor’s body form throughout movements when scoring various maneuvers. However, this attire should also not restrict movement for obvious reasons.
There are three main types of events in which equestrian vaulters can compete: individual, pair, and team events. These routines typically last between one and four minutes.
- Individual: As the name suggests, individual events feature a single vaulter.
- Pairs: Pair events feature two vaulters performing acrobatic tricks together on a single horse. A pas-de-deux is a co-ed pairs event that features a man and a woman as part of this joint routine.
- Team: A maximum of three vaulters are allowed in a team event, all three simultaneously performing on the same horse.
Regardless of how many vaulters are competing, vaulters often compete in two separate events: freestyle and compulsory.
- Compulsory: These events score competitors on 8-9 specific “exercises” they must perform during their routine.
- Freestyle: Freestyle events allow vaulters to choreograph their own entire routine, including their music choice.
Younger and more novice competitors complete these events on a horse moving at a “walking” speed. As these vaulters progress and age, they’re required to complete their routines on horses moving at a “gallop” pace.
An equestrian vaulting event begins with a “lunger” standing in the middle of the competition ring, leading the horse around in a large circle with the help of the “lunge line”. Then, a vaulter’s routine begins immediately upon touching any part of the horse, with these choreographed performances lasting anywhere from one to four minutes.
As this is an equestrian event, both the vaulter and the horse receive scores from a panel of judges for their respective performances. For each judged category or exercise, judges provide a score between 1 and 10. The collective scores of all the judges are averaged to give a vaulter their overall score in the event, with the number falling within this 1 to 10 range.
For compulsory events, vaulters are specifically scored based on:
- Exercise technique (75%)
- Horse performance (25%)
For freestyle events, vaulters are scored according to the following:
- Technique score (50%)
- Artistic score (25%)
- Horse performance (25%)
In both events, the vaulter’s horse is judged primarily on its gait and behavior demonstrated throughout the routine.
END OF GAME
The competitor who receives the highest average score from the judges in a specific event is the winner of that event. This means there can be separate winners for the compulsory and freestyle events.