I watched quite a bit of the vaulting during the World Equestrian Games and while it’s a discipline I don’t know much about, the performances were captivating. Certainly, vaulting brings to mind trick riding or circus performances, but the discipline actually goes back to ancient times.
Some consider vaulting to have initiated with “bull leaping” in ancient Crete, which started around 1500 B.C. but vaulting was also practiced in ancient Greece and Rome, where soldiers balanced on their horses with weapons in their hands.
During the Middle Ages, knights and nobleman had to vault as part of their education. The sport, much like most equestrian endeavors at the time, was used as a way to show off wealth and demonstrate good taste. The name, vaulting, actually came from a French term, “La Voltige.”
I fully enjoyed the the team vaulting with their tiny “flyers” being tossed up into the air with squads of six riders. Also the Pas de Deux, which reminded me of ice dancing.
Then came Lambert Leclezio. The young (25 year old) Frenchman takes vaulting to an entirely new level. Watching him is like seeing ballet performed on horseback. Rather than seeing individual moves, his performance flows seamlessly from beginning to end. He takes your breath away.
Italy won the gold for the Pas de Deux vaulting with a great performance by Lorenzo Lupacchini and Silvia Stopazzini.
And Germany won the Team Gold.
It was a combination of circus performance, gymnastics and dance — for the vaulters are truly dancing with their horses. In fact, the horse is responsible for 25% of the final score, based on the quality of the canter, the horse’s demeanor and elegance, and the lunger’s aids and expertise.