Joyce on vaulting

Only 12 years old, Joyce already knows exactly what it takes to be good at vaulting. This comes at no surprise, since she started training at the tender age of three. Her next goal? World championship of course.

What does your training routine look like?

Twice a week my parents drive me to the riding stable, which is about 15 minutes away from where I live. There we start with nursing and prepping the horse for the training lesson. By „we“ I mean our team, which consists of ten girls who are between 11 and 18 years old and two coaches. The next step is warming up, which is very important. We run for about 10-12 minutes at various paces, and then we stretch for about five minutes – that is vital for our joints. This is followed by acrobatic exercises on the ground for about 10 to 15 min, where we do a lot of wheels, handstands, somersaults and splits … After that we meet up with our coach and our horse „Kay“, which also had the chance to warm up in the meantime. These days we mostly train at the indoor riding hall. Now the real training begins with dividing the team into two groups. One group starts training on the horse, which gallops in circles, the other group starts training on the barrel horse. Then we do it the other way round. After two hours of training, we start clearing everything away, we nurse the horse again and bring it back to the stable: training done.

Pic: ©Andrea Fuchshumer

Favourite training place?

Riding stable „Gut Kreuzenstein“ in Lower Austria.

How did you get into sport and your specific routine?

It all started when I was in kindergarten. All kind of acrobatic exercises we did at gymnastics seemed very easy to me and my physical tension was perceived as extremely well. As my mum loves horses, she then had the idea to let me try vaulting. And it didn’t take more than one trial workout, because I loved it from the very start. I found my passion for vaulting. I simply love horses and started to train with them right away. There has never been a day I was afraid or didn’t want to train with them. At the beginning, I could even run through under a horse, because I was that small :-).

For how long have you been doing sports and how regular are you doing sports?

I’m now 12 years old and I started training when I was three years old, so it’s been nine years now. I train twice a week, usually on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

Joyce at the age of 5.

What’s your favourite exercise?

I would say handstand. At the moment I’m working on improving the flic-flac on the galloping horse.

Why are you doing sport?

Simply because I love to move and I really enjoy gymnastics. Plus, I love horses. These two things put together make the perfect sport for me.

How do you stay motivated to keep going with your training and not give up?

I’m dreaming of succeeding in the tournaments, I’m speaking of the national or regional ones. That’s what keeps me going. My self-imposed goal is to ascend to the next ability group within the next year. Chances seem pretty good! My long-term goal would be to take part in the world championships. The next one will be in the USA and you need to be 12 years old to compete with a team, and 14 to take part on your own.

How are the ability groups defined?

In Austria, we have A, L, M, SJ and S. At the moment I’m in group L and I’m hoping to qualify for M in the next few months. In order to do so, you need to reach a certain number of points twice. Then you’re allowed to ascend. However, not only your performance is judged, also the difficulty of your choreography and the horse’s behaviour.

What are your thoughts before, during and after training?

Before: I’m looking forward to meet up with my colleagues, the coaches and our horse.

During: Phew, that’s exhausting! But I know I need to persevere. That’s the only way to reach my goal.

After: I’m totally exhausted, but happy.

What does a competition look like?

There are two parts: compulsory positions and individual presentation. For the individual part, we choose our exercises and the accompanying music together with our trainer. In my ability group the individual presentation is performed on the barrel horse for the maximum of one minute. The compulsory positions are performed on the galloping horse. There is a pre-defined number of exercises that everyone has to accomplish based on their ability group.

Pic: ©Andrea Fuchshumer

Are there any team performances?

Well, there is a special category called „pas de deux“ where you perform together with a partner on the horse. There is also a „group presentation“ formed of eight athletes. For this competition the whole group has to perform a choreography, whereby a pair of two team members are vaulting on the same horse simultaneously, rotating within the 8 members.

How does sport influence your daily life?

It’s definitely a very important part of my life. Sometimes I have to make a decision between my friends and sport. For example, if a friend celebrates her birthday on the weekend and I have a tournament at the exact same time, I often cancel the birthday party. But that’s no problem for me, as there are only six tournaments a year, but a lot more parties 🙂 Sometimes I even have to decide between school and vaulting, for example if I have a test on the next day. In this case I often skip the training, which makes me a bit sad then.

Otherwise vaulting can be easily combined with my lifestyle. Plus I can really feel and see the improvement I develop by training regularly.

What virtues do you think are most important in order to be successful at vaulting?

Patience, stamina and strength.

Pic: ©Andrea Fuchshumer

Would you say you are competitive: when it comes to sport? In general?

Yes, absolutely. I’m very ambitious, even to that extent that I’m sad or even cry, if I’m not within the top three at a tournament.

Do you need any equipment for the tournament?

Every team has to bring its own horse; usually it’s the one you’re training with. For the competition everyone has to wear vaulting attire, which can be custom made according to your wishes or you could simply buy one. Plus everyone gets a nice hairdo, so the hair is out of the way. This usually takes forever and the whole riding hall smells of hairspray 😉

We noticed you’re already on social media?

A friend of mine introduced me to a few years ago and I really liked it because of the music aspect. Since then I’ve used it as kind of a hobby. I’m also on Instagram. I even have two accounts, which I started a few months ago. Lots of my friends are using these platforms. I really enjoy sharing my vaulting videos and pictures with others.

Is there anything positive or negative you would like to share?


What was your most memorable moment?

When I instantly reached gold at my very first tournament.

If you weren’t into sports what would you be doing instead?

I have no idea.

Do you have any role models when it comes to vaulting?

This would be Nicole Brabec, she is 17 years old and from Lower Austria/Vienna. She has recently won gold at the world championship in the ability group SJ this year.

In five key words: What are the best things about your training you want to share with the readers?

Fun, team spirit, movement, challenge, success

Your favourite motivational quote?



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