Update 6. October 2015: All the freestyles are online & wait to be watched and also on Equi.cz.
I visited the Czech championship in Brno’s veterinary faculty of the university this weekend. Somehow it was like every other championship: Lots of vaulters, three judges, really calm horses. Just some things were different: the competition was in walk, the two categories individuals and pas de deux are possible & some of the athletes needed help. It was the Czech championship in paravaulting.
The atmosphere was great, everyone was so excited to compete for their club at the final competition of the year. The children meet once a month in the summer season for competitions. That makes around 6 to 8 competitions per year. And that was visible. Everyone was so experienced. They new that they have to lift their hand after the bell to start the music, presented the compulsory, consisted of mount, basic seat, flag (without arm), kneeling & dismount to the inside, very concentrated & the freestyle with a lot of fun.
Paravaulting means that the vaulters have a smaller or bigger handicap. There are classifications how hard the impairments are. After these the placement in the end is done. But that appeared to be the only separation. With the horse came in vaulters from maybe 6 to 30 years, with disabilities of the back until mental impairments. All the vaulters have to fight with diseases like epilepsy, back & shoulder problems or schizophrenia. One girl suffered her whole life from something like an apoplexy when she was 3. She & her family spent many years in the hospital until the paralysis of the whole body improved. Now she showed a stunning freestyle on the horse. With every entry a mixed group of athletes came into the arena who train with not disabled children at home.
The horses help the patients to open up. To try things on or better with the horse that wouldn’t have been possible on the ground. The horse is the most important part of the team for all of them. After the competition they brushed & hugged their hero with a lot of love. A girl was so bonded to her vaulting horse that she would never wear sneakers for vaulting. It could hurt the horse. But not only the animals are helpful for the development of the humans. The social aspect of vaulting with its training twice a week & the summer camps helped many of the kids to open up, to integrate into their vaulting team.
What an awesome opportunity for many individuals paravaulting is. Not only for children but also for adults who had an accident, vaulting is so helpful. I know that there is therapeutic riding & vaulting in Germany, too. Are there also championships?
Unfortunately all my smartphone pics are to bad to publish. So, here is a video of earlier this year.