All Inclusive Horsemanship

What is Vaulting?

Equestrian vaulting is a unique sport combining horsemanship with dance, gymnastics, and acrobatics. The history of vaulting is ancient; evidence in art suggests that people have been performing gymnastics on moving horses for at least 2,000 years, and the Romans integrated a form of vaulting into their cavalry training. While the sport is well known in many European countries, especially Germany, vaulting is considered a developing sport in Canada, first appearing here about 30 years ago. Canada’s elite vaulters have successfully competed internationally in individual vaulting competition, and future international level teams are under development currently. The Airborn Vaulters is one of only eight vaulting clubs in BC.

Participants in equestrian vaulting perform a variety of gymnastics moves on the back of a moving horse, either recreationally or competitively. In competition, each vaulter must demonstrate a set of compulsory moves specific to their level. The compulsories can be performed at the walk, trot, or canter and increase in complexity as the vaulter progresses.

For example the “Mill”            For example the “Kneel”


A vaulting competition also requires each vaulter to have their own unique freestyle performed to their choice of music. Freestyles are performed as an individual, a suitably matched pair, or a team - consisting of seven team members including one spare.

Individual                                 Matched pair                           Team                                      


Freestyles can also be performed in competition using a stationary barrel instead of a horse. These classes are very popular and include costume classes as well as individual, pairs, and team classes.

Stationary Barrel



Vaulting as a sport has numerous benefits for all ages and abilities of vaulter. Vaulting is a fun way for children to express their creativity while developing their freestyles. It is a team sport and allows children to develop teamwork skills and make new friends. Vaulting is physically challenging and both develops and maintains flexibility, strength, timing, balance, and coordination. Vaulting is an excellent training compliment to related sports such as horseback riding, gymnastics, dance, cheerleading, martial arts, and figure skating.
The financial advantage is significant; the start up cost is very low compared to most sports. Unlike other equestrian sports, the vaulter does not need to own their own horse or equipment as these are owned by the club.
Vaulting has proven to be of great therapeutic benefit for both persons with physical and mental disabilities. It helps to develop a strong, healthy body and builds confidence, along with the benefit of contact with the horses on a psychological as well as physical level. It is also a sport where the whole family can participate; as a team, up to three people will perform moves on the horse simultaneously.


Out of all equestrian competitive disciplines, vaulting is considered the safest. There are many safety guidelines, which all vaulting coaches are trained to follow. The coach is recommended to be certified by Equine Canada and the lunger, assisting the coach with controlling the horse, must be over 16 years old and properly trained. The vaulting horses are carefully selected to have the ideal temperament and character; they must be reliable, patient, and calm.
The vaulter’s correct and safe outfit includes clothes that don’t have to be tight, but are form fitting to allow freedom of movement. Jeans and sweatshirts with a hood are not recommended since they can interfere with gymnastic moves while mounted on the horse. Long hair needs to be tied back in a ponytail and jewelry needs to be taken off. The appropriate footwear for beginners are inexpensive water shoes and competitive vaulters purchase shoes made specifically for vaulting (approx. $30).

Helmets and Vaulting

Each vaulter begins using a helmet and wears one for a minimum of ten lesson hours. The vaulter will at some point progress to vaulting without a helmet, as more complicated moves are not performed with a helmet. Please read the link on the Vault Canada website regarding helmet use for additional information:

During the first 10 lessons the most important skill that is practiced is how to safety dismount from any position on the horse. This skill and all other vaulting moves are learned on the stationary barrel before the vaulter attempts them on the horse.

High School Credit Program

The EVABC Vaulter Development Program is set of levels that the vaulter progresses through as part of their training. The vaulter is required to pass a formal test for each level, a practical exam, and an oral theory exam. These levels are under development to work with the External Credentials Program by Horse Council BC to provide high school credits to students who achieve certain levels.

Club Credits


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