Story by Kristen Gould
Carlisle Academy in Lyman Maine held its first vaulting clinic on a bright and beautiful winter day in February. Although the temperature outside was cold, twelve vaulters showed their gusto and love of the sport at the Vaulting Winter Warm Up. Vaulters and their coaches from Mount Desert Island Vaulters in Bar Harbor, ME, Litchfield Hills Vaulters of CT and Vaulting Visions of New Jersey joined participants from Carlisle Academy’s Sport Vaulting program.
Katharine Wick, from Hillsborough California, and currently a sophomore at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine was the featured clinician. Katharine began vaulting 11 years ago with Woodside Vaulters in Woodside California. She has competed successfully at the Gold Level both nationally and
internationally. Katharine’s wealth of knowledge, combined with her friendly, easy-going style contributed to a day full of camaraderie and learning for all participants.
The morning session started with a group warm-up that included some cardio work, yoga and strength conditioning. Compulsory moves were polished on the vaulting barrels before participants transitioned to practice these moves on Carlisle Academy’s vaulting horse, Tito, owned by Cyndy West. Tito is a multi-talented Lipizzaner gelding who has been carrying students in Carlisle’s Sport Vaulting program for a couple of seasons. Compulsories are a set of seven static moves that vaulters perform for part of their scoring in competitions.
Everyone enjoyed lunch provided by Carlisle Academy, and a chance to warm up in the heated viewing room. After lunch, a Question & Answer session was held with Katharine. Many questions came up about how she got started in vaulting, where her favorite place to compete was (answer: Aachen, Germany), what is her best training strategy (such as dance or gymnastics, answer: core work). Choosing music, and an explanation of how freestyles are scored were also discussed.
The focus of the afternoon session was Freestyle. In vaulting competitions, Freestyle is the opportunity for the vaulter to perform creatively and artistically to music. Freestyle competitions can be for individuals or teams, where you may see up to three or four vaulters creating a gymnastic dance and pyramid on the back of the cantering lunged horse! Katharine divided the participants into groups of two or three and helped each group create a mini-team routine. Within a short time, each mini-team came up with a very thoughtful and artistic performance on the barrel, enhanced by some soulful music in the background. It was tremendous to see the mix of ages and club members working so beautifully together.
Katharine treated everyone in the arena to a brief demonstration of her freestyle routine on Carlisle Academy’s newest superstar, Maggie. Katharine wowed the crowd with incredible handstands and truly graceful moves that flowed from the horse’s neck to croup. A 15 year old draft cross mare, Maggie has only been with the Academy for a little over a year, yet proven she is worth her weight in gold as an adaptive riding horse, jumping horse, recreational riding lesson horse and now vaulting horse. Maggie has been in training for vaulting for the past couple of months. Her sweet, unflappable disposition, as well as her substantial size, proves that she is a suitable choice for vaulting.
Clinic participants finished out the day by practicing their own individual 3-part Freestyle on the barrel and then on Maggie. Despite the cold temperatures, everyone had a great time, made new friends and learned a lot. The goal of the clinic – which was attained – was to provide a fun opportunity to discover more about vaulting, work with a world-class competitor and get back in to training and/or set goals for vaulting in 2014 – The Year of the Horse!
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This post was written by Sarah Armentrout