The most important part of every vaulting championship has been and should be the horses. Nienke de Wolff was in Ebreichsdorf for the World Championships for Juniors and for the European Championships for Seniors and has mixed feelings about the subject.
Alike what we heard from other people, Nienke was under the impression that vet checks have been slightly lenient these days: Many horses pass the vet checks, but later it shows that they are not fit to compete and they either drop out or are penalized. She has horses competing at both CVIs and Championships, and thinks that at CVIs the vet checks are taken less seriously, and believes this is a problem for the sport.
An explanation of the terms: CVI stands for International Vaulting Competition (in French) and are competitions organized around the globe. Championships happen once a year and are either continental or global.
Nienke reports that there are horses who are accepted at international competitions but are rejected at championships. It is difficult for longeurs and vaulters to understand and accept this.
“I saw good horses and really good horses at the championships which I loved to watch compete. But unfortunately, there were also many horses who weren’t happy athletes: Not able to canter through their body, reacting to flanks and mounts. One horse even kicked when vaulters wanted to mount.” Trainers and longeurs are responsible for horses and vaulters. With that in mind, Nienke and we at Vaulting News think that it was the right decision by Jessica Lichtenberg and Sandra Tronchet to withdraw their horses and vaulters because of health issues – Auxerre (who was with Janika Derks, from Germany) and Wizner (the horse from the French senior squad) both passed the vet check for the European Championships for Seniors that happened in Austria in the beginning of August, but, along the way, Jessica and Sandra, together with their respective vaulters, realized that their horses weren’t fit to compete and decided to withdraw the competition.
Yes, it is very expensive to own horses and even more expensive if they do not pass the vet check – since it is hard to find horses that can compete internationally and sometimes athletes have to travel far with their equine partners to make it to the competition grounds. But it would help the sport if the rules for the veterinarian check were stricter. “Vaulting is an equestrian discipline, and we all are proud of it and want it to be an equestrian discipline, but we don’t look out for our horses. It’s all about the gymnastics, and the horses just have to do their job without complaining. I think the management around the horse should be more serious.”
Personally, I would say the horses became much better in the past, but Nienke is torn about it. “It improved already, but it should be much better. I’m sometimes ashamed when some horse-people are watching vaulting, they see 70% horses who’re no happy athletes, and 30% good or really good horses, that should be the other way around.”
To finish with a positive thought, there were also very good horses! The best horse in Ebreichsdorf was Klintholms Ramstein with constant scores above 8,0 (only one 7,9). He is trained and lunged by Lasse Kristensen from Denmark – who is a world renowned horse trainer.
If you want to learn more about the championships, check out our info graphic.