There is a very small vaulting club in France that does not buy trained vaulting horses or new ones to train up to become vaulting horses, but instead chooses to give horses with a difficult history a second chance. The “Stable of Second Chances” is located in Duttlenheim near Strasbourg.
One of the horses is Mano de la Hardt, who is now the horse of their main team. He was born in 2000, and that was his first stroke of fate: He lost his mother during the delivery. The other mares of the herd did not accept him so he had to be reared with a bottle. He then became a show jumping horse (and he jumped up to 1.25 m) until he had an accident and suffered a torn ligament.
The horse was sold several times, and not every owner treated him well. In 2012, he finally came to the club L’ Ecurie de la 2ème Chance. The vaulters gave him one year to recover until he was healthy and fit. After that they started to train Mano de la Hardt for vaulting. He learnt really fast and soon one walk team and the “easy” individuals won several championships together with their horse.
Mano de la Hardt became stronger and stronger and soon he didn’t like walking vaulting that much any more. Since last year he has been carrying the beginners team (A) and their highlight last season was finishing third at the French championships.
A second horse of the club is Fürst Klasse. They were not searching for a new horse but the coach saw him on the internet and instantly drove to Belgium to take a look. “It was so horrible how we found him” says Laétitia, one of the vaulters. They saw a 1,83 m horse which weighed at least 200 kg less than it should. He stood on a “field” without water, straw and nearly no grass. “We took him into our hearts instantly”. In July 2015 Fürst Klasse moved to Duttlenheim.
During the first days, he ate all the time. He did not want to go to the field because he was scared he would not get fodder there. After he gained enough weight they started vaulting with him. In 2016, he already competed for a themed team freestyle in walk and with individuals. This year the vaulters hope that Fürst Klasse could compete with their individuals the whole season.
Most times the horse is scared of everything, has narcolepsy and probably many other issues the vaulters and coaches do not know of. Dealing with him is not easy, riding is even more difficult (the new owners guess he was mistreated), but Fürst Klasse likes vaulting with the children a lot. He shows his gratefulness for the new and safe home. Although Fürst Klasse was always frightened by humans he now strives to interact with them. Sometimes he even starts to play with the humans. He is making big progress with help from the vaulting club in Duttlenheim and seems to appreciate it a lot.
The club now has a few horses to vault on but they have a bigger issue: they have no vaulters. We would like to discuss this with you in the next two parts of this series. For now, we close with this picture. Isn’t it amazing? Fürst Klasse is now able to work together with the vaulters on a themed freestyle. He found some great friends there.