Updated Vaulting Rules

During 2021 the Technical Committee put forward various rule changes to the vaulting coaches. These changes – for the most part – sought to update the Compulsory exercises for D Grade and to introduce a new C Grade. In essence the D Grade and new C Grade follow the FEI Vaulting World Challenge rules for Beginner (D Grade) and Intermediate (new C Grade). The Advanced class is equivalent to the 1* class.

See the Vaulting Rules, 2022 for a description of the updated Compulsory Tests for D Grade and C Grade.

Below is an extract of the information which was shared with the coaches during June / July 2021. The proposal was accepted by the Coaches (and confirmed by email).

In Vaulting – in South Africa – there is currently only 2 grades prior to reaching ‘international’ level of competition.  This is quite unlike any of the other FEI Disciplines where there are various ‘local’ levels of competition before being able to enter 1* or above status.  SJ – CSI1* is 120cm (grading points are only gained from 90Cm onwards and before this they start from poles on the ground, 30 to 80cm training classes);  Eventing CCI1* is 105cm (grading points are allocated from EV85 and EV95 and before this EV65 and EV75 is considered training);  Dressage CDI1* is from Prix St George/Intermediate Level (Small Tour) (grading points are obtained in Novice, Elementary, Elementary-Medium, Medium and Advanced (the only Training classes are walk/trot and Preliminary).  The age of the vaulters was also discussed and it is noted that with other disciplines (and even Vaulting on the international stage) – it is only when a child reaches his/her 12th year that they can compete in the higher (international) grades.

It was suggested that the following Grades (see below) be followed.  The proposal suggests introducing a ‘new’ C Grade and that the existing C, B and A grade are called 1*, 2* and 3*.  Age restrictions were also discussed.  See below.

E Grade

No age restriction but it is recommended that children be at least 6 years old or in their 6th year.  This is the first competitive step in vaulting and is classified as entry level (and very much training). 

There are currently no grading points at E grade and no age restrictions.  It was recommended, due to the age of the competitors (mostly very young) there should be no placings at normal grading/selection shows.  Provincial E Grade teams will still be selected on merit to compete at the National Champs.  Classes at Provincial and National Championships will be placed.

Vaulters get Platinum (above 7.00), Gold (between 6.5 and 6.999), Silver (between 6.00 and 6.499) and Bronze (5.999 and under) Certificates.  The Vaulter is still scored by the Judges and score sheets will still be handed out.  The individual scores will be available on the website.  SANESA will be run in accordance with placings at all shows.

The reason for this is to ensure that the kids are encouraged to participate – to learn and practice their new skills and to have fun with their teams / Clubs and the other vaulters.  At the beginning of any sport the emphasis should also be on learning skills and repeating these skills.  It is not age appropriate for any child under 12 to be consumed by winning instead of just having fun.

Remember E Grade is not graded – it is entry level and it is training.

The proposed change to the existing E Grade compulsory is – 

Compulsory exercises:

Mount (assisted) – not scored as it is assisted.

Basic Seat;

Half Flag (flag without arm);


Swing to Push up;

Leg over side seat (inside first);

Leg over (outside) side seat and push away to dismount to outside.

Free Test:

As it is currently for E Grade.

D Grade

Graded entry level.  Grading points are awarded.  5 Grading points are required at D Grade before being able to upgrade to C Grade.  After 20 points in D Grade the vaulter is automatically upgraded to C Grade (unless dispensation is requested).  Grading points awarded are:  1 pt for score between 6.000 and 6.499; 2 pts for score between 6.500 and 6.999; 3 pts for a score between 7.000 and 7.499; and 4 pts for a score above 7.500.

The D Grade will follow the current FEI Vaulting World Challenge Beginner compulsory. 

The reason to include the swing backwards is that it is performed in 1* and then used in 2* and 3* with the scissors movement.  It is a difficult move and so it is included in D Grade to give the vaulter sufficient time to practice the skills he/she will need to eventually execute a scissors in 2* and up.  

The mount on is not scored so that vaulter is able to mount in the walk/trot/canter with assistance.  If the vaulter is able to mount in the canter this will still not be scored. When the vaulters are ‘forced’ to vault on in the canter they often do not use the correct technique – which is very difficult particularly when the horse is quite a bit taller than the vaulter.  This way the vaulters do not pick up bad techniques (which are hard to re-learn) and the horses do not get sour from having vaulters hanging on the handles and climbing up the horse’s side onto its back.

Compulsory exercises:

Mount on (assisted) – not scored;

Basic Seat;

Half Flag (flag without arm);

Kneeling (arms to the side);

Swing forward (legs closed);

Half Mill;

Swing Backwards (legs open) and dismount to the inside.

Free Test:

In the walk.  As it is currently for D Grade but all static movements must be held for 4 counts.

C Grade

This is a new Grade that will be introduced.  It is similar to the FEI World Vaulting Challenge Intermediate compulsory.  The Compulsory is identical to the D Grade compulsory with the addition of the mount now being scored (so no longer assisted).  There is no stand and the vaulter still kneels.  The reason for this is that – according to the Guidelines – if a vaulter performs a compulsory move in the freestyle (such as the stand forwards) – it is not scored and does not count for the technique or artistic score.  By doing the kneel in the compulsory – not the stand – it allows the vaulter to use a stand forward in their free test and cement this skill before needing it as a compulsory exercise in 1*.  The other reason to keep the compulsory the same as the D Grade is that the vaulter now needs to perform the free test in the canter and instead of the vaulter having to learn new compulsory skills and do their free test in the canter – they can focus on that giant leap of doing their free test at the canter.

Compulsory Test

Mount on;

Basic Seat;

Half flag (flag without arm);

Kneeling (arms to the side);

Swing Forward (legs closed);

Half Mill;

Swing Backward (legs open) and dismount to the inside.

Free Test

As it is for C Grade but the stand forward would be counted as a free test exercise as it is not a compulsory exercise.

1* – Old C Grade

As per FEI Rules.  Age restriction:  must be 12 or in 12th year and older.

2* – Old B Grade

As per FEI Rules.  Age restriction:  must be 12 or in 12th year and older.

2* Advanced – Young Person

As per FEI Rules but we will extend the age category so that older vaulters could do this instead of full 3* Grade.  Age restriction:  must be 16 years until 21.

3* – Old A Grade

As per FEI Rules.  Age restriction:  must be 16 years or older.

Phasing in of the new Grades

The new Grades (and exercises) will only be effective from 2022 (1 January 2022).  The existing Vaulting Rules and Vaulting Guidelines will be amended and will be published.  The final Rules and Guidelines will be published in January 2022.  All shows in 2022 will be run according to the New Rules and Guidelines.  

The age requirement for 1* will impact on a number of vaulters who are not yet 12 years old and who will not be in their 12th year next year.  For those vaulters who do not meet the age requirements next year – such vaulters are able to apply to the National Judges’ Committee for dispensation from the age requirement.  Only vaulters who score 6.0 and above in their Compulsory Test in 1* (current C Grade) without taking the horse score into consideration – will be considered for the age dispensation.  The National Judge’s Committee will consider only those applications where the vaulter has consistently scored more than 6.0 for his/her compulsory; the vaulter is able to mount in the canter competently (clearing the horse’s back before sitting); and the vaulter is already Graded in 1* (ie they have grading points in 1*).

Where Vaulters do not meet the age requirement and they are not granted dispensation – such vaulters will vault in the new C Grade until they have either met the age requirement and/or have sufficient points in C Grade to upgrade to 1* (ie 5 points in C Grade).

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