Korynn Weber has one rule when vaulting.
She will lift a small child into the air while standing atop a moving horse, and is happy to do so. She will not, however, be the small child.
“I would never get lifted now — no, thank you. I’ll be the one standing on the horse taking care of business.”
Weber has been a competitive vaulter for 14 years. The 21 year old represented Canada at September’s World Equestrian Games in Tryon, N.C., where she finished 10th in team vaulting.
The trip represented a decade-long fulfillment for Weber. In January 2008, a coach had her fill out a form with short- and long-term goals. Her first was to vault at a canter, which is the top speed a horse will go in vaulting.
Her 10-year goal was to compete at the Games, which occur ever four years and Weber describes as the sport’s Olympics. Over 1,000 horses from 68 countries were present at this year’s event.
“Running into the ring, it’s a different feeling than you will ever get at any competition,” said Weber. “You have the TV cameras in your face, you have the jumbotron above you, you have hundreds of people in the stands and you are running in representing your country. It’s a really cool feeling.”
To train for the Games, Weber left her family’s club Koot-Neigh in Blewett and moved to Parksville, B.C., last November to work with the West Coast Vaulters club, which had earned the right to represent Canada. There she trained five to six days a week non-stop until the Games.
Canada is considered a foal in international vaulting, which is dominated by countries such as Germany and Switzerland. Weber said her team’s goal was to improve on Canada’s last result (which they did) and to help move the national team forward competitively.
“We honestly ran in the ring knowing we weren’t going to win or medal,” she said. “We just wanted to do our very best but also just being so happy and excited to be there.”
Vaulting athletes are basically gymnasts performing routines on horses.
In team vaulting, three athletes take turns getting on a cantering horse. The first athlete aboard is the strongest of the trio and does the lifting. The second is a medium-sized athlete who helps balance the first. The third is the flyer, who Weber refers to as a “brave child who’s crazy.”
The other variable in all this is the horse, which Weber says needs to be calm, run at a consistent speed and be content having multiple humans in unitards climbing all over it.
When this moving tower of people and horse is finally built, the end result is ballet.
“When everything is going smoothly and everything is in sync, it’s really cool to have this kid up in the air above you and just be able to move them around so fluidly,” said Weber.
“Everything works perfectly, everybody knows what’s happening and everything just melds together.”