Known mostly to the non-equine crowd as gymnastics on horseback, vaulting is also the rare equestrian sport in which the person atop the mount isn't controlling the horse.
While leaping, twisting and posing, the vaulter depends on his or her partner to control the animal. The partner, called a longueur — or in the Americanized version, lunger — stays in the center of the ring holding a line, usually about 30 feet long, to guide the horse smoothly around the ring.
Vaulting, which begins Wednesday at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games at the Kentucky Horse Park, is expected to be a popular ticket.
Here are a few things the uninitiated should know.
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■ Although music plays during the performances, safety concerns and vaulting etiquette require silence while the horse and rider are performing. No flash photography is allowed.
■ American Megan Benjamin won the individual gold medal at the Games in Aachen in 2006. After a brief retirement, she returns this year for another shot at the gold. According to her blog, Meganbenjamin.com, she's still debating between two horses.
■ Compulsories are typically the first round of competition. They include seven exercises — mount, basic seat, flag, mill, scissors, stand, and full-flank — performed in that order. They test a vaulter's strength, balance and harmony with the horse.
■ Freestyle routines are one-minute for individuals and four for teams. An ideal routine has the vaulter facing in all directions and includes moves that have the vaulter low and touching the horse or high and above the horse. Teams are made up of six vaulters.
■ Vaulting was officially recognized by the FEI in 1983, although acrobatics and dancing on a horse have been around for thousands of years.
■ The handles and the apparatus holding the handles on the horse is called a surcingle.
■ Any breed of horse can make a good vaulting competitor, but they must be at least 6 years old. Stallions should not apply.