Oct 192004
Authors: Anne Farrell

The art of gymnastics often compiles the balance beam, parallel

bars and floor routines, but Tuesday night it was all about


“Even the world court hasn’t figured out what to call it,

equestrian or gymnastics. We think it’s both,” said Starr Hughes of

Golden Gate Vaulting Club, a club that focuses on vaulting, the art

of performing gymnastics on a horse.

On Tuesday evening members of the Collegiate Horseman’s

Association braved the chilly air and met at the CSU B.W. Pickett

Equine Center to decide whether this sport could be classified into

either category.

The Golden Gate Vaulting Club of Golden provided a demonstration

of various compulsory positions as well as several performances by

experienced members.

The women gymnasts, often no taller than the 5-foot horse’s leg,

mounted the animal while it ran circling a trainer’s line. The

gymnasts then proceeded to flip, kick and stand upon the cantering

horse’s back.

In a demonstration, several women joined together to balance on

the back of a single horse.

“It was a lot of fun. I didn’t expect it to be so theatrical,”

said Chloe Harrell, a CHA member and junior psychology major.

Modern equestrian vaulting was first designed in Germany in the

early 1950s and is currently active in more than 24 countries.

In vaulting, riders are taught to maintain balance, control and

confidence through acrobatics, according to the American Vaulting


One aspect unique to vaulting is the style of saddle used by the

riders. There is no seat in the gymnastic act, but the horse and

the rider are separated by a thick material layer, with two handles

for the rider to brace themselves, called a surcingle.

Vaulting was brought to the United States in 1956 by a Santa

Cruz Pony Club director. She realized that the exercises within

vaulting would add to her training program, and as a result of her

determination, there are now more than 100 active clubs registered

with the American Vaulting Association, according to the


Nicole Rau, a senior psychology and equine science major, has

been vaulting for 10 years and has decided to start a vault club at


“I think it’s important for both children and adults to learn

(vaulting). It’s so many things piled into one awesome act,” Rau

said following the performance.


To join the new vaulting program: No

experience with horses is necessary to learn. All interested in

participating may contact Nicole Rau by e-mail at

NRau@holly.colostate.edu .

Collegiate Horseman’s Association at

CSU meets every other Monday night, the next meeting being at 6:30

p.m. on Oct. 25 in room 114 of the Animal Science Building. There

is a $25 membership fee.

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