WOODSIDE, Calif. (KRON) — The nation’s top horse vaulters have been training for months at a picturesque ranch in Woodside preparing for the 2021 World Championships representing Team USA.
Six athletes with Woodside’s Pacific Coast Vaulting Club are traveling to a world championship in Europe with their very special horse named “Diva.”
This unique sport requires dancing, gymnastics, and horseback riding, all at the same time. Athletes lift and toss each other into the air, perform handstands, and even launch into backflips, while the horse is galloping in a circle.
Vaulter Daniel Janes said, “Especially at the top level, vaulting looks seamless and totally in harmony with the horse and almost in a sense looks easy. But there is a lot that goes into that. A lot, a lot, a lot of physical training to be athletic enough to control your own body.”
Judging is based on technique, performance, form, difficulty, and balance. The horse is also scored by judges.
That’s why Diva, an 18-year-old Oldenburg Mare, is traveling with the team.
The Pacific Coast Vaulting Club will be facing tough competition from European teams.
Vaulter Haley Smith said, “We hope to get the gold medal. Our team is really amazing this year. We have lots of strong individuals and these two fliers who really add to our team.”
Hannah Wildermuth and Emi Yang are flyers and just 13 years old.
Wildermuth said, “I love how you can do gymnastics and riding and connect the two.”