About Me

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North Lawrence, New York, United States
I can be described as lover of life, an animal lover, and lover of education. I am constantly striving for knowledge and learning opportunities. I've been around horses my entire life. I enjoy working with horses and their human partners through natural horsemanship philosophies, natural balance bare foot hoof care, reiki, red-light therapy, essential oils, aromatherapy, crystal healing, chromotherapy, flower essences, and more. I am a Usui Shiki Ryoho Reiki Master Teacher who offers treatments for people, horses, dogs, cats, and other creatures great and small. I also teach Reiki classes for those interested in learning how to treat themselves, their loved ones, and even their animals! Natural Horse Lover Farm is located in Northern New York between the St. Lawrence River and Adirondack Mountains. Heaven on Earth. naturalhorseloverfarm.com

Monday, July 01, 2013

Improving your Horsemanship with Equestrian Vaulting

The following article is being brought to you by contributing author, Julie Kettle. Julie is a freelance writer with experience in business, finance, and journalism.  Let me know what you think!  I think this is a nice introductory piece and wanted to be sure to share. I've never vaulted and doubt I ever will but you never know! Thanks all!

Improving your Horsemanship with Equestrian Vaulting

For new riders, or even those with some experience, one of the scariest things about horsemanship is the ever-present possibility of a fall. Whether you slip a stirrup during a particularly bouncy trot, your mount refuses a water jump or you simply lose your balance on a turn, falling off can lead to serious injury or even death – unfortunate accidents are documented every year. Although it is impossible to safeguard against stumbles or trips 100 per cent, there are ways in which you can lessen the likelihood of a fall through communication error between yourself and your horse. Forming a strong horse-human bond is of course essential no matter what discipline you partake in, as this allows you to sense mood changes and react positively if your horse becomes spooked. Yet while emotional factors play a huge role in horsemanship, it is also your responsibility as a rider to constantly attempt to improve your own skills in order to make riding an enjoyable pastime for both yourself and your horse. Light hands, good balance and a strong seat will all make your horse feel comfortable and secure – and this is where the sport of Equestrian Vaulting can come in very useful.

What Is Equestrian Vaulting?
Equestrian Vaulting, or simply vaulting, is at its most basic level the art of dancing and performing gymnastic skills upon the back of a moving horse. It is both an individual or team sport, and can see up to three people performing on horseback at the same time in order to artistically interpret music while a lunger guides the horse in a 15-meter circle. Vaulting is one of seven disciplines recognized by the International Federation for Equestrian Sports, yet as well as having a high competitive following it can be a beneficial activity for children or adults with mild disabilities in its therapeutic and interactive forms. First established in the current form during the Renaissance period in Europe, vaulting is now becoming increasingly popular here in the States. Although it has been present in California and on the west coast since the 1950's, it is only now that it has spread to the northeast, with many vaulting clubs having been established in recent years.

How can it Improve my Horsemanship?
Vaulters do not rely on saddles, reins or stirrups to keep them on the back of the horse, nor are they secured by safety harnesses of any kind – it would be a little difficult to avoid becoming tangled whilst standing and jumping on the back of the horse! Instead, having good balance and anticipating the mood of the horse is key in remaining securely positioned. At advanced level, canter is the standard gait so having a good seat and the ability to move in tune with the horse is a staple for all vaulters at this stage in their sporting careers. This can then be carried forward into other disciplines, as a good seat will see you well in both showjumping and dressage specifically. Furthermore, vaulters tend to be very involved with their club’s horse care, learning the do’s and don’ts for each individual animal. By forming a bond with the horses they work with as a team, it is a much easier transition to fly solo safe in the knowledge that a bond of trust has been created between horse and rider.

Is Vaulting Safe for Me and my Horse?
According to the American Vaulting Association, vaulting is “the safest of all the equestrian activities.” Most injuries sustained by vaulters are similar to those who practice gymnastics – so expect a few aches and pains, the odd sprain but rarely anything more serious than that! Thanks to the many hours of contact with the horse, vaulters tend to know when they are pushing themselves too hard and thus are able to make informed decisions regarding their own limits. As for the horses, they are specifically chosen for their sturdiness and docile natures, although vaulting is not a breed-specific sport in any way (I wouldn't recommend training a Shetland Pony as a vaulting horse, mind!) As vaulting has become more and more popular, many competitive clubs now transport their horses across large distances for events and this is the most likely place for injury to occur. However, as vets are on hand to assess all horses for lameness or injury before they can enter the ring help is most certainly on hand – making sure you have coverage in the event of medical treatment being required is the only real precaution needed.

If you wish to try your hand at vaulting, there are plenty of clubs across the USA which will be more than happy to welcome you. Who knows – this could be your first step in becoming a better horseman than you ever thought you

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