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Training For My First Vaulting Competition
 By Oak Valley   •   10th Aug 2012   •   3,324 views   •   2 comments
With summer coming to an end, so is the vaulting competition season. Itís been a great first year, and Iíve had so many amazing opportunities! In September it will be a year that Iíve been vaulting and Iíd like to share my first year with you guys! Iíve gotten so much out of this sport, and I never thought Iíd be where I am today. I know I say ďIíve only been vaulting for x amount of monthsĒ a lot during this story, but itís because I would have never thought Iíd be doing such amazing things after such little time of doing this sport!

I started vaulting in September, around the second or third week, of 2011. I went to a schooling show 3 weeks later in October. I started vaulting on a 17.2hh Belgian mare named Sparkle, at the Walk D level. It was the lowest level vaulting but I was just starting. In October of 2011 I entered my first schooling show for vaulting. My freestyle was super short, I think it took me just over 30 seconds to complete! I remember being so nervous before compulsories and before my freestyle. The judge was so kind, and so was everyone else competing. I knew I had finally found something I loved to do.

Come November my coach I had was leaving our club and starting a new club in the next town over. This meant I had to change classes. My new coach, also new head coach of the club, said Iíd be vaulting Tuesdays at 6:30, when I looked at the schedule I saw that on Tuesday at 6:30 was intermediate/advanced canter. Right before the 6:30 class at 5:00 there was a beginnerís class, I thought maybe she just got it mixed up, Iíd been only vaulting for two months and I thought there was no possible way Iíd be in the intermediate/advanced canter class. Surprise, surprise, I was. I was so nervous, I had only vaulted on a horse at the canter once, and all I did was a basic seat (barely) and a kneel holding onto the handles. Going from Walk D to Canter D is quite a big jump since thereís Walk, D,C, and B. This had me worried and having a new coach worried me, and vaulting with new people I didnít know. When I had my first canter practice, it wasnít as bad as I thought. The vaulters in this class were definitely more independent (they brought the horse and tacked up the horse, not the coach, which was what happened in my old class). I had almost no idea how to put on the vaulting tack, with exception of the bridle. The coach made me feel very welcome, I remember her saying ďEveryone does a bit of walk, and everyone does a bit of canterĒ, this put me at ease because I knew Iíd get to do some canter and not strictly walk. We were on a 17hh Shire/Saddlebred named Travler. I really liked him, I liked his canter. It was unique, I found it hard to balance at first but then once I did find that balance his canter made me feeling like I was floating.

Training For My First Vaulting Competition

In December, my coach asked me if I wanted to come try the Canter C team. She said itíd help with my individual practice and was right before it too, it worked out perfectly! Keep in mind I had only been vaulting for 3 months, one month at canter. We ran through some freestyle ideas on the barrel and did compulsories at walk and on the barrel. All I remember is I couldnít even get the technique of the backwards swing, it was so embarrassing! Everyone else in the group could do it, except me. When we were playing around with freestyle ideas, I ended up lifting up our flier (Levi) onto my shoulder and then into a skaters lift. We did it on the barrel and then at walk on the horse. When the coach said weíd go do stuff in canter I would have never in a million years guess that sheíd have me lift Levi up onto my shoulder. I mean, I was honoured but I had only been vaulting for a month at canter, and I had just met Levi not even 45 minutes before! I didnít trust myself, I was nervous Iíd drop her and her mum was standing right there, it added to the pressure! I somehow got through it though and we did it, minus the skater lift. I was officially apart of Serenity after that night.

I worked hard all through the winter and spring. I had my ups and downs. I still couldnít mount in canter, I was having troubles with my stand, swings (front and back) and I couldnít do a full flag. Other than that things were great, I had written an individual freestyle, on team we had our team freestyle. In April was the first schooling show of the year for me as an individual and for the team. Just that week at practice one of the girls broke her ankle, which means we had to all fill in parts which added stress for me. I was already nervous as it was, but having to do a new part in team at canter, I could barely do the one I had then. Luckily, we did the freestyle in walk, and just the compulsories in canter. My individual I did in canter, both comps and freestyle. Both went great! I was so happy with it. A week later we had another schooling show, this time the team was doing the freestyle in canter. I was nervous for this one too. I did fall off in team, but got right back on. Another bummer was I almost fell off in my individual because of how worn out I was, but I managed to stay on. I got great comments from the judge. He said Iíd be outscoring the Canter D division, and my performance score was high (around an 8) in my freestyle!

Training For My First Vaulting Competition

That week at practice I had my goals set. I knew what I needed to work on and I didnít have to worry about another competition until June. That was until my coach asked if I could come down to the states with them on the Canter A team. It was a dream come true! I was ecstatic she asked me out of everyone, and honoured! I had only been vaulting for nine months and now I was on this amazing team for the weekend! Yeah, I had a very short part in the freestyle but did I care? No way! This team was the first Canadian team to enter an FEI competition; I wasnít complaining that I had two moves in the freestyle. It was a great weekend other than it being record high temperatures and we were competing outside in an uncovered ring in black, full body, spandex suits. We came in second both rounds, had three falls in the freestyle but we finished the freestyle got right back on when we fell. I made a new friend from the other team, and made a few friendships even stronger with the people on my team. The one thing I really noticed was how everyone, no matter what club they were apart of cheered for each other. When we had the falls in the freestyle the team we were against was cheering for us, yelling encouragements to us. When we had finished the freestyle and had exited the ring they came over and gave us all big hugs. I was so surprised! Never in a sport had I seen an opposing team do that.

When June came around the corner, I was ready. Going down to the states with the team gave me a new confidence that I didnít have before. Our Canter C team had turned into a Canter B team. I was still in D Canter for individual. For my individual I was on a horse I had been on once. Our first round was okay. On Friday night I had my first round of individual compulsories and my team compulsories. I placed fourth (with a 4.763) for my individual compulsories but luckily you didnít find out your true place until you finished all four rounds. In team I scored highest for riding seat with a 7.0. On Saturday I had my freestyle round one. I scored 5.068 putting me in second place for freestyle and third for round one (R1 score was 4.916, 0.004 away from tying with second). I also had my round two of compulsories in which I scored 5.313 putting me in second place for R2 comps. Sunday morning is what I was dreading. I had team at 8:30 and my individual at 8:40 leaving little room for wardrobe change. I managed to hide my individual suit under my team uniform. Our team freestyle went well, had a few problems but we worked through it. My individual was amazing! I have never had a better run through of my freestyle. I was on beat with the music and executed all the moves almost flawlessly! I scored 5.581 keeping me in second place. Round two for individual I was in second with a score of 5.447. That weekend I came second overall in my division (not to shabby for my first vaulting competition!) with a score of 5.181. In team we won with a score of 5.026 also not too bad for our first ďrealĒ competition, especially since we were competing at the national level! This competition was one of the biggest competitions in North America with over 150+ vaulters from all over, from beginners to world champions! It was such a great experience.

Here I am today. I still canít believe how far Iíve came in this sport. I definitely am going to stick with it! Our B team is just improving so much and I canít believe how much everyone has improved. I canít believe how much Iíve improved. From me barely being able to do a basic riding seat at canter to being able to stand at canter, do a backwards swing, mount by myself, do a full flag and many other things I never thought that I would be doing. Yea I know Iíd get to where I am now someday, but I thought itíd take years, not months. I never thought Iíd be on a canter team, or that Iíd be cantering at all. If you asked me when I first started where I think Iíd be in a year, Iíd say just finishing Walk D, and going into Walk C. I had no idea Iíd be on a Canter B team and moving into Canter C and I would have never thought Iíd be competing at the FEI level in two more years (I would have guess more like 5!). So I hope you enjoyed my story! There will definitely be more to come!
Horse News More PB Articles About:  vaulting,
Horse News More In This Category:  Shows and Events      Horse News More From This Author:  Oak Valley
Foxchase Farm  
Great story, vaulting is so cool! :)
  Aug 10, 2012  •  3,056 views
 
Double Spur Ranch  
Love it! Very cool.
  Aug 12, 2012  •  3,033 views
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