A popular European horse sport is making strong inroads into the Pacific Northwest. Equestrian Vaulting, the sport of dance and gymnastics on the back of a moving horse, has 40 vaulters in the Stanwood area alone from the Warm Beach Camp vaulting program. Some of these vaulters are not just preparing for local and regional competition, but world competition as well.
The Northwest’s largest vaulting club, the Warm Beach Vaulters, has three athletes preparing for selection trials for the World Equestrian Games (WEG). Considered “the Olympics” of horse sports, The World Equestrian Games are held every four years, usually in Europe. However, in 2010 WEG made its North American debut at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky. At that event, some of the Warm Beach Vaulters performed exhibitions as part of a “Friendship Team.” It was at WEG 2010 that Warm Beach Vaulter, Kaleb Patterson (then 12 yrs old) made it his personal goal to be on Team USA at the next World Equestrian Games. Four years later, WEG 2014 will be held in Normandy, France. Kaleb, along with team mates Anna Erickson and Daniel Janes, aim to be there.
Kaleb Patterson says, “With WEG 2014 as my goal for the last four years and given my daily training and preparation, joining Team USA would be the biggest accomplishment of my life. The honor of representing the United States of America is something unequalled. With the support of my hometown, I would be thrilled to really put Stanwood, Washington, on the map.”
To get there, vaulters must qualify according to international rules and be ranked in the top four men and women. Or, for the pairs routines, be the top three performing duo in the nation. Selection trials begin with the Warm Beach Vaulter’s sponsored competition “Vault into Spring” being held at the Lynden Fairgrounds March 28-30. Selection trials occur in BC Canada, Oregon, and California, throughout the Spring. Team USA is formed in July and heads to France in late August.
Equestrian Vaulting dates back to Roman times when it was used to train cavalry riders for warfare. Over one hundred years ago, vaulting became more stylized and entered the competition world. While a huge spectator sport in Europe, vaulting is relatively new to the United States. Introduced in California in the 1970’s, vaulting has been growing in popularity ever since. Over 300 vaulters join in the American Vaulting Association’s National Competition. American Vaulters have won impressively at European-held World Vaulting Championships. Soon, we hope to see Snohomish County vaulters join the ranks of Team USA at the World Equestrian Games.