Do I need horse or gymnastics experience to vault?



What is vaulting?

Not at all! Vaulting is one of the most fun ways to learn how to ride, and it establishes a strong foundation of safety, balance, and rhythm for any rider (even experienced ones!) We welcome riders and vaulters of all experience levels, especially newbies. We love introducing people to horsemanship and helping people who already ride further develop their skills.

Moon Dog Riding School believes that vaulting can be beneficial for everyone. For more experienced riders and new riders alike, vaulting gives them an opportunity to strengthen their seat, develop suppleness, and build confidence. Vaulting has a lot in common with classical training principles: riders are on the lungeline with no stirrups -- just like the famed Spanish Riding School in Vienna.  

Generally, students may start vaulting at 5 years old, though every child is a unique individual and appropriate age may vary. For those with shorter attention spans or kids younger than 5 years old, we recommend our Tiny Tots class. We also offer adult classes. Class sizes are limited. Register for classes here.


Vaulting is essentially the art of performing acrobatic or gymnastic movements on horseback. It has ancient roots -- for thousands of years, people have been riding horses in creative ways. From preparing warriors and cavalry for battle to entertaining audiences to just having fun, vaulting has been around for a very long time. Modern vaulting was further developed in Germany as a way to safely introduce new riders to the basics of riding. For more information about the history of vaulting, visit the American Vaulting Association's website.

At Moon Dog, we use vaulting to help riders develop their balance, rhythm, strength, and confidence -- all skills they'll need for any discipline of riding. Most importantly, we use vaulting to teach riders how to safely fall from the horse to prevent injury. 

Is vaulting safe?

Yes! Vaulting is statistically the safest of all equestrian sports. There's no way around it -- working with and around horses comes with the risk of injury. The wonderful thing about vaulting is that it builds riders suppleness, balance, and confidence (all qualities that reduce the risk of falling.) While helmets are not required in most vaulting, Moon Dog requires helmets of all beginning students until they are ready to perform inverted movements or other movements in which helmets increase the risk of injury -- learn more about why helmets are not used in competitive vaulting here. For regular riding lessons (in a saddle, independently "steering" the horse) all riders are required to wear helmets.

Most riding injuries result from a rider losing control of a horse and falling. Falling is inevitable if one rides horses (also a good metaphor for the inevitability of occasionally failing anywhere else in life!) In vaulting, we eliminate the risk of a rider losing control of the horse because the instructor or other experienced handler controls the horse on a long line while the vaulters perform their moves. Vaulters also learn to dismount safely from various positions at different speeds, which reduces the risk of injury from falling. 

What should I wear to a vaulting lesson?

Clothes: Wear layers of clothing that are close-fitting and easy to move in, such as leggings or other athletic pants. 

In winter, we highly recommend wearing layers: warm socks, a base layer that will wick sweat away from the body, an insulating layer like down or wool, and wind or waterproof layer. You can always remove layers, but you can't add layers that you forgot at home! Avoid cotton as it pulls heat away from the body if it becomes wet.

Shoes: The best shoes for vaulting are specially made for vaulting, which you can find online from vaulting shoe supplies like Pegasus. For beginning vaulters, however, special shoes aren't necessary. Any shoe with a thin, flexible sole (like light athletic shoes, Toms flats, or even water shoes -- no boots allowed) will suffice until a vaulter wants to commit to purchasing vaulting footwear. 

For working on the ground with horses, boots or other shoes with a thicker sole and toe protection are recommended. 

Accessories: Vaulting is an athletic sport, and hydration matters! We recommend vaulters bring along a water bottle and to drink sips frequently through practice. Hair should be pulled back away from the face. Gloves will keep fingers warm during cold winter months.

Can I buy a package?

Yes, you can purchase lessons individually or as a package. If you're not sure vaulting is right for you, we encourage you to purchase one trial lesson and then decide if you'd like to schedule a package. Students will see improvement when they take lessons as consistently as possible. For even better results, students should practice a fitness routine at home that will develop strength, balance, and flexibility.