Vaulting Week: Safety

Doing a sport like vaulting, on top of an animal over 1,200 pounds can be dangerous. Even though it can be dangerous, vaulting can be much safer when vaulters follow safety procedures. Ironically, vaulters do not wear helmets for their own safety. Vaulting circles are a set size, and vaulters are required to stay in acceptable physical condition.

Though most horseback riders wear helmets for safety, vaulters do the opposite. Wearing helmets while vaulting can cause more accidents to vaulters, instead of preventing them. According to the University of Vermont, helmets can affect a vaulter’s balance, and it can interfere with their peripheral vision. Helmets are bulky, so they can affect balance to vaulters, and they hug a person’s entire head to protect them after being thrown from a horse. There are positions in vaulting where the rider is upside down, and they use their heads to stabilize themselves by pressing the side of their heads to the horse’s shoulder.

As stated earlier, horses that are young our out of control are not permitted in vaulting competitions. They could cause safety issues, if they become hyperactive or uncontrollable as a person was on top of them. The horse is being longed (pronounced ‘lunged’) when vaulting, where the horse is connected to a long nylon lead line that a coach is holding in the center of the circle. The longe line would not provide enough control over the horse from the distance between outside and the center of the circle, and vaulters cannot control the horse from the spot on top of the horse where there are no reins.

The vaulting circle is a specific size for safety reasons. The angle the horses are cantering at produces the right amount of force so the rider would fall far enough away so they would not be trampled by the horse, if they were to fall off the side of the horse. The footing in a vaulting arena has deeper footing so the horse would not slip while cantering, and so if a vaulter falls there is more cushion. Hard surfaces like rocks, fences, or trees are not permitted in or near the arena, just in case a vaulter fell from the horse.

Vaulters are taught when they begin vaulting how to get off a horse, whether it was intentional or not. They learn how to drop, tuck, and roll away from the horse to stay safe and not get crushed by the horse.


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