Vaulting in the Valley

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Not a Sport for the Faint Hearted

Have you heard of an equestrian event called “Vaulting in the Valley”?

It is a one-day competition promoted by Vaulting WA, and this inaugural event was held on 28th May at the beautiful Brookleigh Equestrian Estate in the Upper Swan. All horse riding clubs in WA including the Riding for the Disabled Association and the Pony Club Association were invited to compete together, fostering community spirit and promoting health and fitness.

PBF Australia supported the event by sending Katie Stokes along to witness first-hand the incredible skills of the riders of all abilities and ages. These included a rider who was blind, a rider who had cerebral palsy and a rider with autism.

Technically speaking, Vaulting is a combination of dance and gymnastics performed on the back of a cantering horse.  Artistically, it is the union of music, horse and athlete to create an emotionally moving story for an audience.

Two local judges attended, Paula Patricelli and Carol Brice. Katie was also given the chance to sit at the judges table and help with the timing of each rider.

Vaulting is not a sport for the faint hearted and high levels of skill are involved.  That said, any interaction with horses can be considered as potentially hazardous.  Horses are much larger and heavier than humans, they travel quickly and stop and change direction in less than a second. Once one is astride the ambit of hazards widens to include falling from height, often at speed, as well as rapid changes in momentum and direction.   In competitive horse sports, “Eventing” is generally considered the riskiest.  Injuries sustained as a result of horse riding are common, however research shows that jumping is the one most likely to produce a spinal cord injury. With 90% of falls happening at the jump itself.

“A multitude of factors interact to result in the fall of a rider and/or horse.  What is an acceptable risk level for riders, horses, the public and the organisers? Each group will almost certainly give a different assessment, and these assessments must play a role in arriving at an overall assessment of risk. If one accepts that risk is always present when humans interact with horses, and that these risks can be reduced or eliminated, then the risk can be quantified, and this quantification can be used to mitigate the risk and help to shape sports injury prevention policies.” Denzil O’Brien.

Life is for living and horses are for riding.  Vaulting is literally like watching gymnastics performed on a horse by phenomenally talented riders.  PBF Australia is here to protect the riders.  Our private members have peace of mind knowing that they are covered should they incur a spinal cord injury – 24 hours a day 7 days a week.  This unique benefit is particularly useful during intense training periods.

In the event of incurring a traumatic spinal cord injury, PBF members are eligible to claim $250,000 to help cover the immediate costs of injury, as well as ongoing living, medical and rehabilitation expenses including modifications to their house and car  (please refer to our PDS).

Join the fight with us against spinal cord injury in Australia and become a PBF Private Member today.

Reference: Article Look Before You Leap by Denzil O’Brien (South Australian Spinal Cord injury Research Centre; 16 February 2016)

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