Year 6 Prep School pupil, Ollie R, has been recognised for his incredible skill in equestrian vaulting and hopes to encourage more boys to join the sport.

Ollie decided to join his local vaulting club in April 2023, and since then has been branded as ‘one to watch’ in the gravity-defying sport. First featured in national equestrian magazine ‘Boys Ride Too’ Ollie became the publication’s official equestrian vaulting ambassador back in January 2024.

“When I was told I was an ambassador, it felt great, I was speechless at first and very happy to be recognised,” says Ollie. “I began vaulting last Easter, there was a class happening on the yard and I really wanted to give it a go, but the class was all girls. I was a little disheartened that I would be the only boy in the club and was unsure if it was for me, but I decided to give it a go and I’m so happy I did.”

Equestrian Vaulting is a sport that requires tremendous strength, trust, balance and nerve. Solo performers, teams or pairs (known as pas-de-deux) showcase routines similar to gymnastics on horseback as the horse travels in a circle on a lunge line.

Originating from nearly 2000 years ago, vaulting dates back to Roman games and the French Renaissance. Today it is recognised all over the world, with 10 British Equestrian Vaulting clubs in England.

Currently the only boy in the Suffolk Club, which is based at Poplar Park Equestrian Centre in Hollesley, Ollie trains twice a week with coaches Anne Hardwick and Annika Seivert.

Talking to Boys Ride Too magazine, Ollie said: “My favourite is being part of a pas de deux and my partner is called Sienna. Over the summer we practised a routine together and in September went to the English Championships where we took part in our first ever competition together and came third. This felt exhilarating and I was so happy”.

Paired with Barney, the 17hh Irish Sports horse, Ollie is determined to stamp out gender stereotypes in the equestrian world and show that there is plenty of acceptance and opportunity for young boys in novice and amateur spaces.

“I think there’s a lack of boys my age in equestrian sports because many don’t know what else you can do”, Ollie explains. “Most think it’s just showjumping – but there’s so much more you can do, and vaulting is great for those at both beginner and advance riding levels, or if you like being active outdoors but may not be interested in field sports like rugby or football.

“I hope my new ambassador role will inspire and encourage more young people to get outside and have a go at a new sport.”

Recently returning from a successful competition at Moreton Morrell College in Warwickshire, Ollie took home second place in the individual class and a brilliant first place win in the pas-de-deux.

Looking ahead, Ollie has five more competitions lined up this year, ending the season with a return to the English Championships this October (in which last year Ollie placed 17th out of 100 in the UK for his solo performance, and third place out of seven pairs in the pas-de-deux).

Ollie’s proud mum, Joanna, said: “Being an ambassador is a brilliant accolade and we are so proud of Ollie that he is an inspiring representation for boys in the equestrian world.

“Vaulting has been a fantastic new experience for Ollie. It’s such a shame that boys are not represented more in this age group with equestrian disciplines.

“Alongside improving fitness and strength, we have noticed that vaulting has taught Ollie about the importance of teamwork and responsibility, and has helped to develop respect, trust and courage.

“Ollie is a brilliant role model for young boys and we hope this will encourage others to try something new and for more boys to take up equestrian sport.”

Ollie has also started ‘Hound and Horse’ equestrian photography, travelling to horse trials and competitions to raise money for his local vaulting club.

Horse Riding is available as an extra-curricular activity for Framlingham College Prep School pupils, the team meets at Valley Farm Equestrian Centre in Wickham Market every Friday at 4pm.

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