This equestrian vaulting instructor interview is the third video in a series of educational videos intended to teach children about different horse sports. Vaulting is gymnastics on horseback and amazing to watch!
For the video series, I ask each horse sport instructor the same seven or eight questions in an interview format and then do a little hands on learning as a way to help to expose a whole new generation of kids to different horse sports in 4-6 minute long informational videos.
The questions I ask each instructor:
- What is your experience with the sport?
- What level of experience do you recommend a kid have before they start learning your sport?
- What basic skills do you teach kids in the first few lessons?
- What do you wear to lessons?
- What type of tack and equipment do you need?
- What types of horses/ponies are good for the sport?
- What types of competitions are there in the sport?
- What do you wear in competitions?
We have filmed interviews with combined driving, hunter, show jumper, eventing, polo, and equestrian vaulting instructors. I will post those videos as the editing is completed.
View this video and others on YouTube: https://youtu.be/6APMFyoJ5XY
Equestrian Vaulting Instructor Interview
I’m Susan DiFelice with Allpony, the horsemanship for kids website, and I’m here today interviewing Andrea Selch with Triangle Equestrian Vaulting at Lockhill Farm.
Will you tell me a little bit about your background with vaulting?
I’m a lifelong rider, so I really wanted Helen, my daughter to enjoy riding, but she just wasn’t catching on. But when she saw the gymnastics on horseback, she was like, Oh, this is it.
She won the national championship in 2013 at the trot. In January of 2012 we had our first demonstration with 12 children in mid February, and now we have five vaulting horses.
Which should, you know, before you come to your first vaulting lesson, what level of riders should you be or what level of gymnast should you be?
You can start as a beginner without knowing anything about horseback riding or gymnastics.
What basic skills do you teach in the first few lessons?
The very first lesson we talk about safety and walking around the horse. And, um, you know, make sure you don’t go directly behind the horse and how to brush the horse. And the kids right away are learning how to tack up the horse. That’s the first introduction to the horsemanship part.
In the first lesson, they will learn first on the barrel, how to do a basic seat, which is sitting with the arms out. And then they will learn how to do the position that we call the box, which is sort of an a crawl position on the horse. And they’ll also learn kneel and maybe press, which is like kind of a plank, and you’ll do it on the barrel and then we’ll do it on the horse.
In the same lesson?
Yeah, sure. They’ll, we’ll also learn more things on the barrel than they might do on horse that day. Like we probably will even show them how to stand up on the barrel because we can really spot them and hold their hands and everything, but they won’t do that on the horse right away.
What do you wear to your first vaulting lesson?
Best is leggings on the bottom for vaulting and then a tight fitting top.
What do you wear on your feet?
There are vaulting shoes, which are a little bit like trampoline shoes or gymnastics shoes, little leather slippers with grippy bottoms. The beginners usually start wearing swim shoes.
What special tack and equipment do you need for vaulting?
Vaulting has a special piece of equipment that we use on the horses called the surcingle. We try to keep it even from side to side. And it’s kind of like a big belt that goes around the horse, but it has a structure to it, like a saddle, so it doesn’t press on the withers.
The vaulting bridle is the same as a dressage. Bridle minus the rains, but we do use side rains between the bridle and the surcingle and that helps the horse to use his back properly and not be injured.
What types of horses in ponies make good vaulting companions?
Now, vaulting horses tend to be large, and the reason for that is that then you can have beginners of all ages, and also you can do a pas-de-deux, which is two vaulters on the horse. Or you can do squad, which is up to three on the horse at one.
What kind of warmblood makes a good vaulting horse?
Any warmblood with a nice smooth canter.
Can you tell me about the different vaulting levels? In competitions?
There are many levels of competition for vaulting. The lowest level is the children’s start competing at the walk and there’s then a couple of levels of trot or actually three levels of trot.
There is novice trot, preliminary trot, and regular trucks. And regular trot is actually a national division.
Is that based on the skill level of the rider or how fast the trot is?
No, the levels are based on the skills of the riders. When I have students that are starting out, I usually have them go to their first competition at the walk.
I want you to walk me through the competition. Is there a gymnastics program?
When vaulters go to a competition, they always go in two classes for their division. The first class is the compulsory class and they will do the six moves. The first move that they do is vault on. That’s the Mount. And then they will do basic seat, and then they will do the flag, and then they will stand. And then they do front click, and then half a mil and that click and dismount.
And how are they scored?
And they’re scored on a scale of 10. Five is satisfactory. I like for my students to be in the low sixes before they go up to the next level.
What do you wear in competitions for competitions?
The vaulters wear unitards, which are one piece leotards with legs and arms. They’ll usually have a compulsory unitard, which will be standard across the club. Everybody in the club has the same one. And then for a freestyle, they wear their own unitard that they designed in collaboration with a unitary designer.
We are really hardworking, very competitive team. Having competitions to go to gives the kids a goal, gives us something to coach for.