Horse vaulting began in Ancient Rome as a form of gymnastic athletics. It then became popular in the Middle Ages in the world of knights as they vaulted to show agility. The sport arrived in the United States in the 1950s and has grown nationwide since then. It is a sport available to riders of any age and can be performed as a team or as an individual.
When vaulting, a horse is attached to a lead called a longe line. This lead is held by a person called a longueur who stands in the middle of the arena. The horse will run circularly around the arena with the vaulter either running alongside it or mounted on top of it. The horse should be at a certain gait called a canter, where they are moving at a run around the arena. While the horse moves, the vaulter will perform skills and acrobatics on its back.
In vaulting competitions, vaulters are judged on strength, flexibility, and balance, as well as their ability to move cohesively with the horse. Judges will also score vaulters based on how difficult the skills they perform are and how well they execute them. Judges will also make sure that the vaulter faces all four directions on the horse during the routine, and that they cover the whole surface of the horse from the neck to the hindquarters.
Vaulters will also be scored on the consistency of the horse's speed and movement. Vaulters can either perform a compulsory routine where they have pre-choreographed skills in order, or they can perform a freestyle routine with free choice to do any skill in any order.