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Vaulters aren't just horsing around
Event at ag center combines equestrian, gymnastics
Elisha Jones, of the Falconwood Vaulters, competes Saturday in the bronze individual freestyle with horse Bronson during the Falconwood Vaulters Spring Fest at the Chicopee Woods Agricultural Center. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

Equestrian vaulting could be considered as much an art as it is a sport.

Members of the Falconwood Vaulters competitive vaulting team gracefully demonstrated their skills Saturday at Gainesville’s Chicopee Woods Agricultural Center.

The Vaulters, holding the title as the only registered vaulting team in Georgia, was one of several teams present for the vaulting competition.

The sport combines equestrian with gymnastics as athletes perform their routines on the back of a moving horse.

The Falconwood Vaulters Spring Fest 2012 allowed teams to compete Saturday and today for medals and recognition. The competition is nationally recognized by the American Vaulting Association and hosted by the Falconwood Vaulters each spring.

Lisa Zielenske, coach of the Falconwood Vaulters, loves watching her team grow individually and as a group.

“Vaulting is one of the few sports that allows the athletes to participate as an individual and a team,” said Zielenske. “One of my favorites moments is during practice when I see them accomplish something they never thought could be done.”

Competitions are the vaulters’ time to shine, and there are many things that contribute to making these events memorable.

“It’s great to be able to come up with your own freestyle, add your own style to it with your music and perform your best,” Elisha Jones, 16, said of being able to compete in front of judges and spectators as a member of the Falconwood Vaulters.

Her teammate, Molly Thorton, 14, agreed that there’s a rush that comes with putting all the hard work that goes into practices on display.

“I love the rush of the competition and having just one moment to express myself in front of a crowd,” she said.

The Falconwood Vaulters Spring Fest 2012 continues today at the Ag Center, 1855 Calvary Church Road, Gainesville.