Once upon a time, I was an equestrian vaulter.
“What’s that?” you say.
It’s gymnastics and dance on a cantering horse.
No, it’s not the circus. No, it’s not an Olympic sport. No, it’s not as dangerous as you think it is. Yes, it’s helped me develop quite a bit of upper body strength. (People really tend to fixate on that one.) Yes, we wear full body spandex (though there are options these days). No, I don’t still have horses. No, I’m not a crazy horse person (though I kind of used to be).
“But what is it, really?”
Vaulting can be performed individually, where just one person is on the horse’s back at a time.
As a pas de deux or pairs routine, much like pairs figure skating, with two people on the horse’s back at a time.
Or as a squad, where a team of six performs a routine with as many as three people on the horse’s back at a time.
Back in my youth (1997-2012), I competed in and eventually earned World Championship medals in all three events. It was a huge part of my life and remains a huge part of my history. Here are some of the things I’m especially proud to have accomplished:
- 2006 World Equestrian Games Women’s World Champion with Leonardo and Lasse Kristensen (Aachen, Germany)
- 2006 World Equestrian Games Squad Silver Medalist with Grand Gaudino and Silke Bartel (Aachen, Germany)
- 2006 Recipient of the USEF Becky Grand Hart Trophy
- 2006 US Olympic Committee August Athlete of the Month
- 2008 Vaulting World Championships Squad Bronze Medalist with Leonardo and Lasse Kristensen (Brno, Czech Republic)
- 2012 Vaulting World Championships Pas de Deux Bronze Medalist with Jarl and Lasse Kristensen (Le Mans, France)
So there you have it. Now you know a world champion in a sport which, until now, you’d probably never heard of!