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History of Vaulting

A Brief History of Vaulting


The earliest root of vaulting date back until the Pre-Romanic Ice Period in South Scandinavia in 1500 BC . Stone paintings give an impression what these people thought of “Artistic Riding”. These pictures depict horses with persons standing on them.

Others see roots in the bull dancers of ancient Crete. Even in the Classical Olympics in Greece “Artistic Riding” was part of the competitions.


Also there was vaulting at Roman games, people where performing acrobatic and dance-like movements on the backs of cantering horses about 2000 years ago. Julius Cäsar mentioned the excellent riding skills of the Germans in his famos “De Bello Gallico”.


During the Middle Ages vaulting was part of the education of knights and noblemen. In Baroque Times this kind of sport was more regarded as a means of expressing personal wealth and good taste. The present name of the sport comes from the French “La Voltige” during this period.


Every graduate from a higher military education in cavalry troops regarded vaulting as a prephase for an advanced equestrian education. They were already familiar to the so called “wooden horse” for training purposes. In our days vaulters use a “vaulting barrel” to practise the movements they will perform on the horse.


Vaulting was included as “Artistic Riding” by cavalry officers in the Olympic Games 1920 in Antwerpen. The team gold medalist was Belgium followed by France and Sweden.

Modern vaulting, much as is practiced today, was developed in postwar Germany as a means of introducing children to equestrian sports. In the sixties vaulting moved to the neighburing countries and to the United States.


In 1983, vaulting became one of the equestrian disciplines recognised by the FEI. The first European Championships took place 1984 in Ebreichsdorf, Austria and the first World Championships 1986 in Bulle, Switzerland.


Interested in having a go?

Contact your local vaulting group or get in touch with B.E.V.