Two tiny Bronberg girls vault into first place Print E-mail
News - Ons Mense
Thursday, 21 January 2010 13:27
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Two tiny Bronberg girls vaulted into first place at the South African Vaulting Championships held at Kyalami Equestrian Park held on 5 December.

Vaulting partners Caylin Jooste, aged eight from Tyger Valley College, and Elrike Raubenheimer, aged seven from Tygerpoort Laerskool, were awarded the floating trophy for first place in the walk pairs division.

These girls have only been vaulting for two months and beat teams that had been practising the art for a number of years. Caylin and Elrike were taught by Arlene Mahon from the Willows International Riding Centre in Zwavelpoort.

Equestrian vaulting is most often described as gymnastics and dance on horseback. It is one of ten competitive equestrian events recognized by the International Federation for Equestrian Sports, along with show jumping, dressage, endurance riding, reining, eventing, horseball, paraequestrian, combined driving and tent pegging.

Elrike Raubenheimer, left, and Caylin Jooste, right, with their firstplace trophy
Photo?s: Caroline Jooste

Therapeutic vaulting is also used as a form of treatment for children and adults who may have balance, attention, gross motor skill or social deficits.

According to Caylin’s mother Caroline, vaulting is phenomenal for children’s development; it helps with balance, coordination and especially with self-confidence. She says that horses are her daughter’s life. She neighs like a horse when she wakes up in the morning. The two friends think horses, play horses, live horses, draw horses – horses are what their life is about and vaulting is like a dream come true for them.

The sport’s name comes from the French “La Voltige”, a term used in the Renaissance when vaulting was a form of agility exercise for noblemen and knights. However, people have been performing acrobatic movements on horseback for more than 2 000 years. There is even a stone painting, dated at around 1500 BC, of Scandinavian riders standing on horses.

Beginner vaulters, such as Caylin and Elrike, compete at the walk, wile advanced vaulters perform on the horse at a canter. The vaulting horse moves in a 15-meter circle and is controlled by a lunger. The lunge line is usually attached to the inside bit ring.

Elrike, left, and Caylin, right, busy vaulting

Vaulting horses are not saddled, but wear a surcingle or a roller and a thick back pad. The surcingle has special handles, which help the vaulter to perform certain moves, and leather loops called Cossack stirrups.

There are six compulsories exercises in competitive vaulting: basic seat, flag, mill, scissors, stand and flank, in addition to the mount and dismount. Each exercise is scored on a scale from 0-10.

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