Compulsories: Love them or hate them?

Hi there everyone!

Just the other week I was here doing my basic vaulting research and talking to Adele on Facebook (VaultingNews’s bloggers main communication tool) when I randomly decided to ask her if she thought compulsories would die. And she promptly answered me that she didn’t think so.

We then decided to extend the question to our amazing readers and followers and got a very interesting result: 76% of our voters seem to think that compulsories won’t be extinct, while only 24% think that it might (we had 220 voters).

First, let’s remember why this question matters:



Well, compulsories are a part of a vaulter everyday life since forever. But, for a few years now we have seen quite a transformation to the test:

– Up until 2012 we had a basic seat. Today we don’t.

– Until 2012 we had a flank dismount, people took it out because it was dangerous (although vaulters do double backflips with a twist as dismount and nobody seems to care).

– Now apparently flank is back again.

– We have also been introduced to a whole new category Compulsory Test free: Pas des Deux.

– Today we also have whole competitions that don’t include compulsory tests, such as the world cups or Voltigier Trophy Sud.

– On the other hand, technical tests seem to get more important evey year, and now we have new very exercises that appear to be very hard and demanding on athletes and horses. So, maybe, that could take the place of compulsory test.



If we think about it, the sport as a whole has changed a lot in the past five years. Today we have performances more dramatic and more difficult at the same time. During the 2014 World Equestrian Games the vaulting arena wasn’t an arena it was a party with loud music and people cheering and having fun.

Everything is different. Is there still space for compulsories in the sport we are creating?

I myself have always loved compulsories. I really think it’s very important and I miss basic seat and flank. But if vaulting is to turn into a performatic sport, I understand that maybe comps will fall behind.

On the other hand, the more creative vaulters get on their freestyles, the more comps are important because they really help separating the best athletes through well stablished standards.



Here are the opinions of a few of our readers:

“Compulsories form the basis of every move you will ever do. You can’t jump if you can’t stand… I think it’s a good way to encourage softness, harmony and technique from the start, and it also makes the scoring a bit more level (there’s something everyone is judged on equally that isn’t affected by things like judge preferences or whatever)” Jane Beaverstock

“No, they should Stay. I believe they are a Necessary Balance. I also feel they make for great judgement on ones true skill.” Krystal Harmon

“I think that at the highest level of competition, i.e. CVI3* and CVI4*, there won’t necessarily be the need for the compulsory test in Individual, whereas in a team I think it will still be used. However I think it will differ depending on the competition, WEG and Senior championships may not have compulsories, but junior ones will continue to.. ect” Sez



Just to show the importance of compulsories. Let’s take a look at some examples from recent WEG History

A) Aachen, 2006

Do you happen to know who won the compulsory tests amongst men’s individuals  in 2006’s World Equestrian Games?

It was the 2000 and 2002 world champion Matthias Lang, who was on the lead with 0,1 points ahead of Kai Vorberg (who ended up winning the competition).

The reason you might not remember that, is because on the second day Matthias had a terrible moment and ended the first round with the  score of barely 6.907 and a last place. He wouldn’t have made it to the finals if it weren’t for those beautiful compulsories.

He ended up going to the finals although having qualified last after the first round *.

The most amazing thing happened: The exact same thing we saw during the first round happened again on the second round. Matthias was 3rd on comps, very close behind Kai Vorberg and Gero Meyer, but came last on freestyle (he was the only one scoring below 7,8 that day). He finished the competition with the 14th place: Saved by the compulsory test.

* Remember that the fifteen best athletes qualify to the finals after the first round of compulsories and freestyle. The second round consisted, at that time, of another set of compulsories and freestyle.


B) Caen, 2014

The epic battle between Brazil and USA to figure out who would go on to the finals in 2014 was solved by their compulsory test. USA had a lot of trouble on their freestyle but showed consistent comps, while Brazil, on the other hand, amazed us on the freestyle but had week compulsories. USA won the battle in the end.


C) Kentucky, 2010

First day of competition. After compulsories the USA had the lead with over 0,2 points ahead of Austria and Germany on the Squads Competition.

This big difference was, in part, due to the fact that during the 2010’s season FEI issued a rule that demanded that flyers perform compulsory tests along with the rest of the team. Up to then flyers were usually reserve vaulters during compulsories and, at times, didn’t even have to practice them. So 7 vaulters did compulsories and only 6 were on the freestyle during all international competitions in 2010.

Austria and Germany had very little flyers who could fly but didn’t have enough time to get a good grip at the comps. USA had Emily Hogye, who at the time was 14 years old and already practicing her individuals. That gave the americans great advantage on the first day.

On second day of competition USA had a rough fall that got them to lose ground to the europeans, but, at the end of the first round, everything was tied up. USA, Austria and Germany were all exacly together.

USA could have been done at that first freestyle. But compulsories managed to keep them in the lead. And they finished the competition with the golden medal.



And that kids it’s why you should always pay close attention to your coach when they tell you to practice your mill.


I am a 27 years old psychologist from Brazil, although I have graduated in psychology I work with media and communications, with a focus on data analysis. I am currently heading towards a master's degree at the London School of Economics (LSE). I am not vaulting anymore, but I did for over 10 years. As it very often happens in our sport, I never really left, I taught at a social project for a few years and have been working on VN since 2014.

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