Horse vaulting nationals return to ag centre

If you’ve ever wondered how horses and gymnastics go together, you might want to take a look at the Equestrian Vaulting Nationals.

If you’ve ever wondered how horses and gymnastics go together, you might want to take a look at the Equestrian Vaulting Nationals.

Planned for Oct. 13 and 14, competitors will come to ride for Alberta and Saskatchewan provincials and then compete for nationals the same weekend at the ag event centre.

Coach Jeanine van der Sluijs said there are competitors who are also coming from British Columbia.

“It’s the first time hosting nationals in Alberta so it’s quite exciting for us.”

A form of gymnastics and dance on a moving horse, competitors perform at a walk, trot or canter.

They can ride individually or as a team of up to six people. “With up to three people on a horse at the same time.”

Interest appears to be developing for the new sport with clubs in Cardston, Rocky Mountain House, Sundre and two in Olds.

“We’re starting to gather more interest in the Calgary area and closer to Edmonton,” explained van der Sluijs.

With the youngest competitor at four years old and the oldest in their mid-30s, vaulters of all ages can try it out. She suggests some experience in either gymnastics, dance, or with horses is an advantage and for those who don’t have horses it is still possible to start.

Vaulting horses are trained for the job and as such there are only 14 trained horses coming to Ponoka, it is not uncommon to see a horse ridden by several different competitors.

Admission is free to spectators.