Vaulting Week: Differences


Horses are used in vaulting, but they are also used for other disciplines. Horses can be used for jumping, dressage, eventing, and trick riding. They all require horses to perform, but vaulting is unique compared to them.

In jumping, horses and their riders jump over obstacles that can be up to seven feet tall, as stated in World Book Millennium 2000. Competitions on jumping are timed. This discipline is different from vaulting, as vaulting is not as fast-paced. It is not timed, and vaulting is judged on technique, form, difficulty of the routine, balance, security, and consideration.

Dressage has some differences with vaulting. One difference between vaulting and dressage is that in dressage, horses are controlled by its rider to perform movements and patterns at the walk, trot, and canter. These movements are also cued for with the slightest movement of the rider’s leg or seat. In vaulting, the horse remains at a slower, collected canter, with their legs under their body and their head arched at a specific angle.

The two disciplines, vaulting and dressage, are similar in some ways. In both disciplines, the horses must be controlled and collected. They both require gracefulness for the performances to look proper. Vaulting: Gymnastics on Horseback by Paki Stedwell shares with readers that retired dressage horses are common for German vaulting horses, because they carry their bodies properly and have built up enough of necessary muscles that are needed for vaulting.

Eventing is a mix of jumping and dressage, but there is also cross country added to the series of events, a timed event where horses and their riders go through a set obstacle course in an open area. There can be hills, rivers, jumps, and more natural landforms as obstacles. Eventing is a timed and graded competition, and it is extremely difficult and can be strenuous and dangerous without proper training. Eventing is far more fast-paced and strenuous than vaulting, which is not scored by time.

Trick riding is another equestrian discipline that is known less compared to other events. In the article, Trick Riding and Acrobatics by PBS, it says that trick riding is when people somersault from the ground to the top of the horse, and then back down, or hanging from the horse at a gallop. The horses        in trick riding are not being longed like vaulting horses are, but trick horses are normally galloping around an enclosed pen. It is different from vaulting because vaulting is never done at the gallop, and it is meant to be more graceful and slower than trick riding.


4 thoughts on “Vaulting Week: Differences

  1. Vaulting is an awesome experience, no matter what age. I enrolled my two daughters in vaulting lessons, and even though they had ridden all their young (9 and 11) so-far lives — even from before birth (I’m an avid trail rider) — once they learned to vault they never “fell off” a horse again. When you fall off, you are afraid. When you vault off, everything changes — you land with a laugh. After vaulting, my kids began trail riding alone in the woods, just the two of them — galloping, laughing, completely digging it — it changed their riding skills, and their lives.

    In fact, I was in my early ’40s back then and I took vaulting lessons, along with my kids. Even though I’d ridden since I was young, owned, raised, trained and bred my own horses, vaulting changed everything about what I’d known about balance and my horse. It moved me deeper into the movement, more connected. I bought a “camp” vaulting surcingle and have used it with countless camp kids, students, adults. It accelerates the learning process and allows progress at an enhanced rate.

    I recommend vaulting for every horse person, no matter how long you’ve ridden. It’s just challenging finding instruction and a good horse to learn on.

    • Yes, I agree with you! Vaulting is a great, fun sport for horse people to try, whether they want to start riding soon, or currently horseback ride. I participate in vaulting during summer camps, since we get to vault daily on one of the vaulting horses (who are also lesson horses). My first “fall” while riding last week could have been prevented if I had better balance, since we were loping stirrupless. I had never done it before, and completely lost my balance and slipped right off the mare’s side! Vaulting has really affected my skills, I can sit the jog better (I ride Western) and absorb the horses’ movements better. I wish I could participate in more vaulting, but I am not a part of the vaulting club that practices where I ride.

      • See if there are any clubs or instructors in your greater area. I had to drive over an hour each way when we were learning. Sometimes they offer clinics. Glad you were able to give it a go! I actually got to the point of standing — just once, for about four rotations around the ring, It was amazing! Then the season ended, and we stopped attending. But the experience is one of my favorites!

        • Yes, there actually is vaulting club where I do horseback riding. They have practice every time I’m at the ranch, Saturday afternoons around 1 p.m. I do have a great interest in riding, but I think I will stick with summer camp vaulting for now 🙂

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