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Vaulting team to perform at Lorenzo competition

A member of the Root Farm Vaulting team demonstrates a vaulting maneuver during the 2011 Lorenzo Driving Competition in Cazenovia. This year, the team will be performing on July 21 and 22, during the show.

A member of the Root Farm Vaulting team demonstrates a vaulting maneuver during the 2011 Lorenzo Driving Competition in Cazenovia. This year, the team will be performing on July 21 and 22, during the show. Gene Gissin Photography

— Spectators coming to the Lorenzo Driving Competition, being held at the Lorenzo State Historic Site in Cazenovia on Saturday, July 21 and Sunday, July 22, will have the opportunity to observe the sport of vaulting. Members of the Root Farm Vaulting Team will perform during the lunch break on both days of the show.

The Root Farm Center for Equine Assisted Therapy, located in Verona, is a special place to many people. Founded by Alice Root in 1997 and originally called Mud Creek Farm, it works wonders for people of all ages and abilities.

The concept of horses helping humans is not new. Occupational therapists and psychologists discovered many years ago the physical and mental healing powers that horses possess. The number of equine facilities that offer equine-assisted therapies has grown significantly in the past two decades.

However, one might not put the concept of vaulting on horseback in the same category as equine-assisted therapies, but in the case of the Root Farm, this is exactly what they are doing. Students of all ages and physical and mental abilities come to the Root Farm to learn about vaulting. They start out on a stationary vaulting barrel. Picture the pommel horse used in gymnastics, but higher and a bit wider. Special handles on the barrel provide a means for the vaulter-in-training to hang on and learn about the basic maneuvers that will be performed on horseback.

It takes a very special animal, both in size and in temperament, to make a vaulting horse. They are required to move at a steady pace in a consistent circle allowing the vaulters to mount, perform maneuvers and dismount without breaking stride.

A special device, called a “vaulting surcingle” mimics the attachments found on the training barrel. The teamwork that results between the horse, the handler and the vaulter is a thing of beauty.

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