New Zealand is to send its first vaulting team to the World Championships after qualifying for the upcoming the 2014 FEI Alltech World Equestrian Games in France.
The last time New Zealand had a vaulting representative at a WEG was at Aachen in 2006, when Hannah Mills competed as an individual.
The team comprises eight vaulters – including two reserves – ranging in age from 11 through to 21 years old, and two trainers, Catarina Strom, and Verena Fiess. The vaulters are Danielle Schwabe, Brooke Dunstan, Lily-Claire Palmer, Georgi Curran, Rhyanne Vasta, Evangeline Goldie, Grace Williamson, and Jennifer Ponne.
The sport was first introduced to New Zealand in 1994, and it has long been the ambition of Kapiti Vaulting Club co-ordinator Lyn McIntyre to get a team to the World Equestrian Games.
“We have been on this pathway for the last four years,” she said. “This is a dream come true.”
Equestrian Sports New Zealand high performance director Sarah Harris said the success was thanks largely to the commitment by the Kapiti Club and their vaulters to head to Europe to ensure they were exposed to top international competition.
“This is a club with an outstanding performance culture and we believe this is the beginning of a very long pathway for them,” says Harris.
“This is a team that is more than capable of making the top eight in the world, which is incredibly exciting for vaulting and the wider New Zealand equestrian family.”
To make the cut, the club has sent teams and individuals to Germany where they have competed with success, as well as numerous times across the Tasman.
Key to the team making the grade was the quality of the horse they will compete aboard, and through their extensive European connections, have secured two to choose from. Each come with a lunger.
“We are very lucky to have secured these horses – both have been sought after by other countries too, but have been held for New Zealand,” McIntyre said.
The team will head to Europe five weeks before the Games where they will join the German training camp. An individual vaulter will head over in June to start preparations and training.
In vaulting competition, the horse gets 25% of the marks, so are critical to the overall performance.
At the Games, the team will have do both compulsory and freestyle performances. The latter is done to music.
In preparation for the championships, the team-members are training up to six days a week for three hours a day, including strengthening and gym work as well as riding.
New Zealand will also be represented by eventing and endurance teams at the Games, with individual showjumping and para-dressage riders also in the hunt. The event runs from August 23 through to September 7 in Normandy, France.