This past weekend VaultingNews went on tour. On Wednesday evening I decided to hop on a train on Friday to attend a vaulting training at 6 o’clock in Budapest. Of course the train was late & it was already dark when I arrived, but my very kind host Krisztina Bence waited for me at the platform. We rushed to another train which brought us to the suburbs of the Hungarian capital. There we were picked up by Eszter, the founder of a very young vaulting school. We passed a juice factory on the left side & finally I arrived at a stable with around 50 horses & an indoor arena, the club Berri SE Lovastorna.
I was told that they aren’t that far yet, just starting their vaulting school, and they don’t have a perfect horse… So, when we came in, Harry Potter was being brushed by an adult because he is not used to the many children yet. He was bought as a show jumping horse but has been in the vaulting business for nearly one and a half years now, which he’s been enjoying much more than his previous job. He is still learning but he already has some solid competition experience: He won the children 1 star category of the CVI Budapest together with his lunger Dr. Attila Lassó & vaulter Zsófia Görgey.
We moved to the arena, which is ok for riding but very low in height for vaulting. Meanwhile 10 vaulters had arrived & started instantly to warm up with another coach. It was around 0°C. After running they choose to stay warm through various jumping (which paid off in the mounts) as well as coordination exercises. The young athletes have an amazing tension but more importantly a very correct performance of the tasks. Where does all this come from? This doesn’t look like a newbie school.
A perfect team of coaches
I say, they shouldn’t hide, they have the perfect conditions to be successful in the future: Eszter, the founder & horse owner is a former rhythmic gymnast. So, the team trains 4 times a week, 2 times with the horse, twice in the gym on the grounds of the stable, which seems to pay off. Because Eszter is new to train horses she hired her old coach who is lunging during training & in competitions now. Of course Harry Potter still needs a long warm up time but when the vaulters did their complete compulsories in trot & canter he was was totally ok, calm & steady. The compulsories showed potential, no big blunders because the barrel practice is provided by the international judge Krisztina Bence. Sounds really good so far, and I learned thar coach number 4, who was training the vaulters during the warm up & through the training on the ground, is a dancer. What a great team. Is there anything more to ask for?
The trainer’s team is very motivated to push their school forward. The bottle neck is like everywhere in the world the partner horse. 12 good canter vaulters are too many for one group, but splitting isn’t possible with just one horse. So, they bought a horse that can take over the walk vaulters & are already looking out for a new horse. They have big plans! Other than that they are looking forward to train outside again, because standing on the horse is only possible with squats to avoid the beams of the roof. Swings can only be practised on the short sides of the arena. The Berri vaulters are using the winter for compulsories until they can start in the outdoor season with their freestyles.
Lovastorna (Hungarian for “vaulting”)
The overall Hungarian vaulting situation doesn’t look that good. There are 6 clubs in the area of Budapest & of course the club in Kaposvar with the junior European champion of 2014 Balazs Bence. This success didn’t give the country a push forward. Nonetheless, most of the clubs organize a competition so that they have the opportunity to show what they have learnt at around 6 events in spring & autumn.
After the training I met a big fan of VaultingNews, Zsófia had a lot of questions for me & told me that she is constantly looking for new posts on our blog. It was the first time that I met a reader of ours & it made me feel a little bit guilty that we don’t write so seldom. It seems to help people to connect with the vaulting world which was our aim. on Saturday, the situation got even more unfamiliar to me. Normally I just sit in front of my laptop to write, I attended my last competition at least 2 years ago. But last Saturday I was at a 2nd Hungarian training which members follow VaultingNews & wanted a picture with me. This was totally new to me.
András Kiss, Hungarian steward, took me to the gym training of the club Budapesti Lovasklub on Saturday morning. It wasn’t any training, it wasn’t any gym. We entered the training halls of MACIVA (Magyar Cirkusz és Varieté – Hungarian Circus and Variety Shows). Thanks to the management of MACIVA that they allow to use their facility, the club has an opportunity to train with an acrobat coach for 2 years now & I was lucky enough to attend a class.
A visit to the circus
The coach Tibor – a former acrobat of famous circus shows – is a teacher of Hungarian Circus Institute now. Here I learnt, that animals are allowed but there was no opportunity to ask further questions. Next time. What was astonishing was the crazy warm up they did. It was focused on the belly. Yes, of course I can think of like 30 sit up variations, but when I was still training I picked 3 of them. The Hungarians did all & it made me realize how important a strong upper body is for good artistic.
After that they moved to the main arena where they prepared their barrel freestyles for the competition in March. Hungary is doing these kinds of events only for like five years now but for what I have seen, they really can show on the barrel, what they learn with the circus. The circus coach guided them through rolls, handstands, cartwheels, jumps and somersaults. He has very useful tips for them, especially about the landings which were improved in the last 2 years & also some preparation exercises. Between every coordination exercises some strengthening took place. It was nice to see how they learn from a pro.
That was my vaulting program for the weekend which surprised me. The athletes receive a very good training but the problems are the horses, which are not common in Hungary what makes them expensive. With this knowledge in my mind I now went off to discover the city. The Danube is dividing the 2 million metropolis. Next to the river I found historical buildings which must have seen a lot. The former 2 cities Buda & Pest were besieged by the Turks for 145 years until it was conquered by the Hapsburgs, then in belonged to Austria-Hungary & so on. The history of the just 10 million people country has many ups (the oldest subway on the European continent is definitely worth a visit) & downs (I came across many memorials which remind of the second world war). Today they have to fight with increasing rents & an education system that is in need of improvement. After these 2 days I have a lot of questions which stayed unanswered & I really have to come back one day.