Vaulters compete in Ponoka

Fans of gymnastics and horses will be interested to know vaulters are coming to the Calnash Ag Event Centre Aug. 6 to 8.

The Alberta Equestrian Vaulting Association is hosting its national and provincial challenge at the Calnash Ag Event Centre Aug. 6 to 8.

The Alberta Equestrian Vaulting Association is hosting its national and provincial challenge at the Calnash Ag Event Centre Aug. 6 to 8.

Fans of gymnastics and horses will be interested to know vaulters are coming to the Calnash Ag Event Centre Aug. 6 to 8.

The Alberta Equestrian Vaulting Association is presenting a combination of gymnastics and dance on a moving horse, says Melanie O’Neill, club coach and president.

Vaulters from three provinces are coming to compete in provincial and national championships in Ponoka and she looks forward to another performance at the ag event centre. “The venue supports our sport very well.”

She has two judges from the United States lined up to see how these vaulters will fare against each other.

O’Neill enjoys vaulting because it brings rider and horse together in a way other equine sports do not. “It’s harmony with the horses,” she explained.

Not only do the routines provide a way for vaulter and horse to connect with each other but they also provide balancing skills. Horses will walk, trot and cantor in a circle as a lunger directs the animal in a circle. Competitors will compete as individuals, pairs and in threes on a horse.

“The horses have to have a certain personality,” said O’Neill.

They need to run a steady gait but also balance themselves with the vaulters, sometimes there will be three people on a horse. “It’s graceful, it’s a skill and it’s an actual art.”

“It allows the vaulter to bring out their personality,” she added.

Training as a vaulter does take some commitment; there are five to six days per week training on the floor and at least three days with the horse.

The event is free for spectators and O’Neill says anyone interested in the sport can talk to her in Ponoka or check out www.vaultcanada.org.