August 2, 2009 -- Equestrian vaulting came to the Kentucky Horse Park for the first time last week, with the United States Equestrian Federation and the American Vaulting Association crowning their national vaulting champions from July 9-12.
"We're excited to present the USEF/AVA National Vaulting Championships in the Kentucky Horse Park for the first time, and to be part of the fabric of the Horse Capital of the World," said Sheri Benjamin, the American Vaulting Association's president. "We were also delighted to see so many spectators at the event, and to show off our unique and growing sport in Kentucky for the first time."
The Men's Individual Gold Vaulting Championship title went to Kenny Geisler, 28, vaulting with equine partner Lanson 16, a nine-year-old Hanoverian lunged by Jessica Ballenger, and Sir James, a six-year-old Thoroughbred/Percheron lunged by Olivia Swan. Both horses are owned by Emma Garrod Seely. This is the second national championship win for Geisler, who won his first Men's Gold Vaulting Championship in 2001. He is coached by Emma Garrod Seely, and is a member of the Mt. Eden Vaulting Club in Saratoga, CA.
Alicen Divita of Woodside, CA, took the Women's Individual Gold Championship title for the second consecutive year, vaulting with Lorino, a 13-year-old Hanoverian owned and lunged by Julie Divita, and then with Giovanni, a 12-year-old Mecklenburger lunged by Krista Mack and owned by the Woodside Vaulters. Divita, 20, a U.C. Berkeley junior who competes with the Woodside Vaulters, is coached by Isabelle Bibbler-Parker.
In the Men's Silver Vaulting Championship division, equiBALANCE's Shawn Ricci, 31, took the top men's prize with Rubin, an 11-year-old Westphalian owned and lunged by Rebecca Marland of the Spruce Valley Vaulters in Alberta, Canada. Ricci vaults with equiBALANCE Vaulting Club in Shawsville, VA.
Mt. Eden Vaulting Club's Tasha Thorner, 13, last year's Bronze division champion, topped the Women's Silver Vaulting Championship class this year. Hailing from Aptos, CA, Thorner vaulted with Lanson 16, lunged by Jessica Ballenger.
Warm Beach Vaulters' Kaleb Patterson, 11, of Stanwood, WA, won the Bronze with Praise, a 13-year-old Belgian owned and lunged by Patti Skipton. Tessa Divita, 11, of the Woodside Vaulters, won the Women's Bronze Championship, vaulting with Lorino (lunged by Julie Divita) and Caspar 128, a nine-year-old Hanoverian lunged by Krista Mack.
In the highest team division, Mt. Eden Vaulting Club's Sun Team won the overall "A" Team Championship, vaulting with both Sunny Boy, a nine-year-old Dutch Warmblood owned by Jan Garrod, and Cheval, a 10-year-old Draft owned by Sydney Frankel. Both horses were lunged by Emma Garrod Seely. Team members include Kalyn Noah, Alexandra Thrasher, Elizabeth Ioannou, Heide Rothweiler, Makayla Clyne, Tasha Thorner and Mackenzie Thurman. In the team competition, a total of six vaulters are constantly mounting and dismounting the horse during the four-minute freestyle, with different sets of vaulters performing gymnastics and dance moves in pairs and as triples with their equine partner.
In the Pas de Deux division, Great Falls Vaulters Elizabeth Brigham, 21, of Potomac, MD, and Anna Thomas, 11, of Newtown, VA, took the pairs top prize on Pete, a 13-year-old Percheron Cross owned by Jennifer Williams.
Judges for the competition were Suzanne Detol (FEI O), Adrienne Stang (FEI O) and Craig Coburn (FEI C).
Vaulting at KHP
Vaulting takes place throughout the month of July at the Kentucky Horse Park, with an exhibition competition taking place during the prestigious Adequan FEI North American Young Riders Championships, presented by Gotham North, July 21-26, and an international competition and World Equestrian Games 2010 Test Event taking place on July 30-August 2, the Kentucky Vaulting Cup. Vaulting is also demonstrated daily at the Kentucky Horse Park's Parade of Breeds presentation.