The FEI’s website talks about vaulting horses. It tells that there are standards for vaulting horses. The standards are for the horses’ temperance, conformation, fitness, and age.
Vaulting horses need to be tolerant and willing. They have to tolerate people running up to them and jumping onto their backs. It is more difficult to find a horse with this tolerance, since wild horses are prey animals and spook at anything that seems threatening. The horses need to allow people to jump onto the horses’ backs, stand on them, and tolerate weight constantly shifting on their backs. The horses used in vaulting are always willing to do their job, even though people who do not ride or vault feel as though the horse is being forced to run in small circles while people jump on them. Without the willingness of vaulting horses, this sport would not be possible.
Horses used for vaulting have standards for their conformation, too. Vaulting horses typically have a wide chest and strong legs to support the vaulters jumping onto their backs while they canter around the ring. Since plenty of vaulting is done on a horse’s neck, a short, thick neck is recommended. Friedlaender states in her book that the horses’ height does not matter. A team of shorter vaulters may be better at vaulting on a short horse that is easier to vault onto.
The horses that participate in vaulting have a specific age limit. Horses that are under the age of six years are not used for vaulting horses, since they are less mature and untrained compared to horses that are over the age of six or seven. Younger horses can be less controllable, and as stated earlier, horses that are out of control are immediately disqualified in competitions.
Vaulting horses must be fit. They have to canter or trot for whole routines, which can last for over a few minutes. If a vaulting horse is out of shape, it will perform poorly, which could lead to lower scores in competitions.
A/N: I forgot to post images for the past few days, so I will include all in one post on conclusion day of Vaulting Week