Cruel?

stormox

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Does anyone else think vaulting is a bit unfair on the horse? Even cruel? The horse just canters round and round with its head strapped down and a person, sometimes 2 people, jumping up and down on its back?
In their home environment do these horses get ridden normally? Hacks etc? Going round slowly in circles carrying a moving weight must be hard on their joints.
 

Goldenstar

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No I don’t think it’s cruel .
It’s a job like jumping or racing or lugging people around on hacks I know a stallion who did the vaulting horse job for a while he was a happy sound chap he did hack out and do other things as well .
He was a well trained balanced horse
 

Jeni the dragon

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Most of the vaulting horses I've known do plenty of other jobs! The best one drove, did side saddle, hunted, jumped and everything in between. She came as a retired dressage horse and when she was retired from vaulting the vet was astonished at how clean her joints were. The second best was a retired grade A showjumper with the worst flat work you'd ever see. Turned into an absolute super star but in the early days he wasn't called Fred West for nothing!
 
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If I'm honest it doesn't sit well with me...... when I've seen vaulting the horse always looks bored to death.

But then you go to any riding school and see the poor Plods going round in endless circles with numpties on their backs sitting like a bag of cack, and you feel sympathy too!

Or you witness someone lunging a horse who doesn't know what the heck they're doing, and they've got the head of it tied down and they're doing tighter circles than the horse is physically able to cope with.
 

meleeka

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I don’t get it as a sport at all. The beginning is actually quite comical when they mount the horse. Gymnastics is a sport on its own so why not do that? At least you aren’t going round in circles with that!
 

dogatemysalad

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Not really. Working horses are expensive to keep and train and are more likely to be better looked after than many leisure horse owners.
Work is hard for both working animals and humans. Maybe its cruel to expect a farmer to work for 14 hours in extreme weather or a building site worker to get up at 5 am on a dark freezing winter morning and work in all conditions just to pay the rent.
 

Red-1

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I think that, like all sports, there will be people who train and condition the horse correctly to do the job, and other people who cause harm by not varying work and over doing it.

It is not something I would fancy doing myself. Apart from anything else, I always wear a hat when riding!
 

Mule

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I'd say it's an ok life. They don't have to carry a rider sitting on their backs. Their riders are proper athletes and well balanced so they don't bang down on their backs and aren't a heavy load to carry. I'd say having side reins on is more pleasant than a rider fiddling with the reins. The contact is constant and it's not being nagged. They can sit behind the bit if they choose;)

It's not a mentally stimulating job but it is physically demanding which can be more enjoyable. If I were a horse, I think I'd go for it :)
 

planete

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I had a go at vaulting a long time ago when I was helping at pony club and they fancied trying it. We used my own horse who was a very steady, up to sixteen stone coloured cob and a borrowed vaulting suurcingle. Only draw back was that I had to demonstrate and jump on him at the canter using the vaulting surcingle. Not something I had ever done before! All I can say is my horse did not seem to notice our antics at all, never mind get stressed by the job.
 

Lammy

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I stabled for a couple of years on the same yard as the GB vaulting team. Julie their coach/lunger is literally the most lovely person you could meet and has a wealth of horse knowledge. If a horse doesn’t like or doesn’t suit the job it gets found a more suitable home pretty quick! The horse needs to be quiet and trust worthy. It probably is a boring job but probably no more so than a horse that only ever goes in the school. And they do hack as well and do a bit of dressage/ridden schooling.

The people “jumping around on their back” really isn’t like you or me stomping around up there, these kids/teenagers are very light - the career of a vaulter is not very long! I think you could definitely have faith in the British squad that their horses are well looked after and much loved :)
 

Pinkvboots

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I worked on a yard where junior vaulting horses were kept, they normally had 2 horses and I regularly watched them train, it takes a lot of training and not all horses are suitable, I think they know quite early on if one is not cut out for it, they were not used for vaulting everyday they were hacked out and schooled like a normal horse, I don't think it's cruel at all they were well looked after and looked in fantastic condition and they travelled all over the world just the same as a lot of dressage and competition horses.
 

Mule

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I suppose it's like anything. Some horses like their dressage and some like jumping. It sounds like some horses enjoy vaulting too. I used to know a mare who had no confidence jumping but when she stepped in to a dressage ring she started to strut!
 

Skib

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Some people disapprove of lunging on a circle whereas for me being lunged week after week (including bareback) was what taught me to ride.

The same horses were sometimes used for vaulting - I wouldnt want to do it myself but it is good for historians to see people doing as the Greeks once did - just jumping onto a horse.
An RI recently persuaded me to read Xenophon. In those days jumping on was the only way.
 

Peter7917

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Meh, I think it's okay. Not like a riding school pony having to deal with a beginner using their mouth to balance and bouncing about like a sack of s.
 

Mule

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Some people disapprove of lunging on a circle whereas for me being lunged week after week (including bareback) was what taught me to ride.

The same horses were sometimes used for vaulting - I wouldnt want to do it myself but it is good for historians to see people doing as the Greeks once did - just jumping onto a horse.
An RI recently persuaded me to read Xenophon. In those days jumping on was the only way.
It would be interesting to find out about the working life expectancy of vaulters. Like navicular injuries. It would be a way to see if people are right or wrong to be wary of lunging.
 

Lammy

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It would be interesting to find out about the working life expectancy of vaulters. Like navicular injuries. It would be a way to see if people are right or wrong to be wary of lunging.
The mare I knew was about 18.2hh and was still going strong at 20. Retired to hacking at that age and up until then she’d still been competing internationally with no issues.

Her young replacement was retired from vaulting as he was found to have a heart murmur so he went to a dressage home. He was just as big and as far as I remember had never had any soundness issues leading up to it.
 

SEL

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It would be interesting to find out about the working life expectancy of vaulters. Like navicular injuries. It would be a way to see if people are right or wrong to be wary of lunging.
From personal experience I think it has to be the right horse. I'm not convinced an Ardennes was built to trot on a 10 metre circle and its his left fore that is now completely bug*****

(about 4 mins in on this Youtube link) The circus

But he will still trot round you on a 10m circle when you approach with fly spray or anything else he takes a dislike to in the field!
 

Mule

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From personal experience I think it has to be the right horse. I'm not convinced an Ardennes was built to trot on a 10 metre circle and its his left fore that is now completely bug*****

(about 4 mins in on this Youtube link) The circus

But he will still trot round you on a 10m circle when you approach with fly spray or anything else he takes a dislike to in the field!
I can't see a horse in the video. It's just the performers dancing.
 

MagicMelon

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You can say the same thing for jumping dressage cross country raceing so it hypocritical to complain about vaulting.
I dont think many horses look bored jumping or doing cross country and they're not being asked to just do the same monotonous thing for ages with their heads strapped down. Personally I dont like it, I dont really "get" it as a sport. They are amazing gymnasts but do they really need to be doing it on a horse?
 

DressageCob

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I don't get vaulting at all. It's not my cup of tea. It seems like a lot of lunging which I was always told should be done in moderation because of the strain on the limbs. I don't think the people jumping on the horse cause much of an issue when they are little (like Gareth and Rebecca Hughes' daughter, she's impressive) but when you see fully grown muscular men do it it must have an impact. They are fit and lean but I bet they are heavy, given how strong one has to be for gymnastics. Plus they pile loads of people on top at one time.

I'm not sure it's cruel, but it is not a life I'd choose for my horse.
 

Malibu_Stacy

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I dont think many horses look bored jumping or doing cross country and they're not being asked to just do the same monotonous thing for ages with their heads strapped down.
Is it boring for a horse of the right temperament though? I don’t think you can assume because it seems monotonous and boring to you as human another animal finds it that way. Certainly, I’d find it pretty boring just to mooch around a field all day but my horses seem very content to do just that!

Again, with the caveat of for a suitable horse, I can imagine a job where they know what’s going to be expected of them and what they’re being asked to do is far less stressful than always being pushed to go higher, faster or learn something new.

I would also hazard that it’s far better for the horse long term if it is working through its back and rounding, which many horses will find easier to maintain with a consistent contact to work into, which is what (appropriately adjusted) side reins provide.
 
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