A Special US American Rule: Changing Horses During Nationals

This week we posted a link to results of the US American championships without further comments. For me as a German it was a very confusing article because many horses were named with one vaulter.


The reason lies in the US American rules chapter VA 105.

VA105 Horse Use

  1. Horses may be used for a maximum of 32 units per day.
    1. Team Events:
      1. Team Compulsories = 8 units
      2. Team Freestyle = 8 units
    2. Individual Events:
      1. 1 Compulsories = 1 unit
      2. 1 Freestyle = 1 unit
      3. 1 Technical Test = 1 unit
    3. Pas de Deux Events:
      1. 1 Freestyle = 2 units

This means that a horse is allowed to compete with 2 teams each day of a competition or with 10 individuals. For a comparison, maybe due to more vaulting horses, German horses are allowed to compete as follows:

Possible number of starts for a vaulting horse per day in Germany (Standing 2017)
Squad 1 1 1 0 0 0
Individual 4 2 0 2×4 0 4
Pas de deux 0 1 2 0 2×2 2

The second part of the US rule chapter reads as follows:

In Gold, Silver, Bronze, A Team, B Team, C Team, and Open Pas de Deux, horses and longeurs may be changed between sections of the event. In Junior Team, Junior Pas de Deux, Junior Individual, Senior Individual and Senior Team events, neither horses nor longeurs may be changed between sections of the event.

The two US American champions competed in the gold category (which is like Senior***: 1 compulsory, 1 technical test, 1 freestyle) so that they were able to use this rule. And many competitors did.

There are different reasons not to compete on one horse the whole competition.

The planned horse is unsound

Mary McCormicks horse was accepted during the vet check, but she did not agree with that decision. Her horse was a bit uneven  before the competition and she wanted to take care of it. So, she asked around and found a green horse for the compulsory. But her freestyle would have been too hard for Duke Wilhem.

So, do you remember the small club which does a lot of para vaulting? Rick Hawthorn and his wife Virginia give adaptive vaulting lessons for over 30 years but never had a gold level champion among their vaulters. He was very humbled that Mary asked him to compete on their horse Ben. Jill Palmer offered to lunge the horse. After such a long time in the business the Hawthorns have now a national gold champion among them: their horse Ben.

They were both crying because they were so very happy.

To familiarize a new horses to vaulting and its competitions

Kristian Roberts had a young horse Cypress Hill with him for compulsories and scored 7,347 in the first round. Since the technical test exercises are very difficult for horses he switched to the very experienced horse Palatine for the second round. Palatine though had lots of vaulters to carry during the weekend. So Roberts competed on the horse Duke Wilhem for the freestyle.

Borrowing horses teaches cooperation

A small fictional story: Let’s say a young girl does her compulsories on Big Ben, and don’t you know it, Big Ben hurts himself in his stable and comes up lame. Little Susie now gets help from her vaulting friends across the country who all brought horses, can try out several that get offered to her and finds a good match. Not only is Big Ben protected, but also did little Susie learn that she is a good vaulter who can vault on different horses and she is surrounded by helpful people who aren’t even from her team.




Adele Feuerstein

I am Adele Feuerstein the founder of the blog. I used to vault & train teams in Germany. Now I am only an observer & love to share my knowledge about international vaulting with you.