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Posted by Melissa Stone on 16/05/2016.

Diary of a Vaulter: the Journey to Saumur CVI

"My journey towards competing at CVI Saumur in France began with a trip to England to undertake placement for my final year of my Bachelor of Veterinary Science degree. This meant that I could combine my love and wish to compete for Australia in Vaulting and my degree into one trip, a dream come true! Vaulting within Australia and indeed throughout the world is like one big family so I was thankful to have offers from two clubs one from France and one from Scotland to borrow horses for the competition. 

Upon arrival to Europe I travelled to The Netherlands to train with a club in Odiliapeel prior to the competition. This provided me with the opportunity to train on world class vaulting horses and included the opportunity to train on one of the few mechanical barrels in the world (designed to simulate a cantering horse). Following this we began the journey to Saumur located in the South-West of France. Unfortunately the day I left The Netherlands via train we were informed of the terrorist attacks that had occurred in Brussels, which our train was supposed to pass through. Our train was cancelled and we were stuck in Rotterdam. After a couple of panicked hours and with all trains cancelled in/out of Belgium and The Netherlands we managed to secure two seats on a bus and began the 8 hour journey to Paris. After this delay we managed to continue our onwards journey to Saumur the next day. 

Upon arrival at Saumur I had my first training session on my horse Tylers Kernal 'Tyke' from Team Great Britain of Wee County Vaulters in Scotland owned by John Eccles (World Famous Vaulting Lunger, Horse trainer and Father of Joanne Eccles current World Champion Individual Female Vaulter). The horses were then allowed access to the competition arena for arena familiarisation and the next day trot up was completed with all horses passing the Veterinary inspection. 

The following day the CVI* classes commenced with my compulsory exercises scheduled first at 2pm followed by my freestyle at 6pm. Tyke performed beautifully and was settled in the small arena that can spook some horses, he is however a seasoned vaulting horse and has competed at many World Championship events. My compulsories and freestyle were performed and with a combined score I was awarded with 6th place. At my first international vaulting competition and very early in the season I was thrilled with my performance and placing. 

My trip to Saumur was a fantastic experience, it gave me the opportunity to train and compete on World Class horses and be coached by some of the best Vaulting coaches and teams in the world. It would not have been possible without the help and support of Equestrian Australia, Team Great Britain and Wee County Vaulters, John Eccles, Amanda McLachlin and my parter Nick who accompanied me as my groom and support team.

Melissa Stone"

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