Vaulting in Poland had its strong moments during the 80s and 90s winning medals at important international championships. Unfortunately, they have had some struggles since then. Now it seems as if they are back on track, thanks to national judges, trainers and lungers with lots of motivation, but also thanks to external help from internationally experienced vaulters bringing their knowledge into the country.

1. Is vaulting getting a more popular sport in Poland? Can you tell us something about the history of vaulting in Poland?

Yes, actually it does. Of course, there are still a lot of people who have no idea such sport exists, but I think it becomes more popular in the equestrian community. There is a vaulting competition organised next to a big show jumping international event, the  Cavaliada Tour in Poznan, and I think it makes vaulting more popular.

From what I see, people are more active now, some clubs that didn’t use to come to competitions before started to show up.

There is a bunch of enthusiastic people who want the sport to grow. They work on some changes, new solutions. For example, there is a plan to make a brochure with some instructions about creating a vaulting club, we also want to have a person in each provincial equestrian association who could be responsible for vaulting, ready to answer some questions, popularize the sport so we can influence and support vaulting in every part of our country.

I really like the subject about the history of vaulting, because my former coach from Poland was a part of an internationally very successful team and she showed us a lot of old videos, always told stories about how it used to be when she trained (90’). Vaulting in Poland started in 1985 when Andrzej Sałacki – a very good dressage rider, and the trainer of a local gymnastic club formed together a vaulting team out of gymnasts from the club. After 1 year of practicing on the horse the „Jaroszówka” team ended 6th at World Championships. In 1987 they were already 4th at European Championships, in years 1988, 1992, 1993 they won bronze medals.

And soon there grew a big competition for them – „KJ Aromer”. Both teams were competing with each other every year to qualify for World/European Championships and both of them were on a really high international level. In years  1998 -2002 the „Aromer” team was always among the first 5 on Championships. In 2003 they won the bronze medal in Saumur.

„KJ Aromer” was the club where I started to vault.

After 2004, unfortunately everything started to fall apart and we had a harsh time for vaulting in our country. Both big clubs quit and despite some talented vaulters from other clubs it was really hard to form a strong national team. We had only few people competing internationally and there were not even enough vaulters to organise national competitions.

Now, it is finally building up again. People talk, act, want to improve.

*The numbers for 2018 might not be updated yet.*

(Source: FEI)

2. Who’s in the national team? How did you form this team?

Right now I’m in the national team as an individual together with my lunger Nienke de Wolff and the horse Dutch Elliot Z. Besides that we have 4 junior girls. My sister Marcelina Mazińska, my teammates Zuzanna Bogdańska and Zofia Mikołajczak and Antonina Szanecka – it’s a girl from another part of Poland. 3 of them will compete in Belgium on Dutch :), in Frenstat and Pezinok on a Polish horse with Jan Ratajczak (some people may remember him – he was a very good lunger of „Aromer” squad) and Michelle Kung lunging. Antonina will rather borrow a horse, she is an experienced CVI junior and competed on many different horses.

3. How many vaulting clubs/vaulters do you have in Poland?

We have around 10/15 active vaulting clubs, there are more and more recreational clubs, too. Right now we have around 10 Polish vaulters who compete internationally.

4. Where do you get your knowledge from? Do you visit other countries or invite external trainers?

Yes, we had the pleasure to host Gero Meyer several times in our club in Warsaw. Thanks to his help, we made a great progress – got to know a lot about techniques, got some new exercises for compulsories, worked on our freestyle expressions. He also helped our squad a lot during the European Championships 2015 in Aachen.

Last year, the same club hosted Pauline Riedl and it was another portion of new information. This club UKS Volteo also shares its knowledge, organizes clinics for vaulters and trainers in Poland.

UKS Volteo – Polish Senior Team at CVI Frenstat 2017

I personally moved to The Netherlands 1,5 years ago and got to know a lot about vaulting, which is growing all the time here. This is really a „horse country” so it’s great! I lived in Utrecht and trained with Cynthia Danvers and girls from her team. We went together to a few competitions. It was a great experience, they are very calm and confident, which makes their vaulting so safe and harmonious with the horse.

After spending there almost a year I moved to another part of The Netherlands. I was looking for a place where I can do both – continue my studies on Erasmus exchange and have some good vaulting trainings. I contacted Nienke De Wolff and since then I’m training with Team DWV! I’m helping with training new vaulting prospects, I got to know a lot about horses and their proper training. I find it very nice, it makes me more harmonious with the horse. We enjoy training together and we are working on the qualification for the WEG :), I really feel that I improved here! We had some trainings with Lasse Kristensen, who’s not only a great lunger, but also a really good vaulting coach. Last and this year I worked with Nicolas Andreani on my choreography and face expression (there’s still a lot to work on here for me). Next year, I’m going back to Poland and my little plan is to support more the evaluation of vaulting, use my knowledge and still keep on getting more and more information from other vaulting trainers/countries. I definitely want to keep in touch with Team DWV, we are working on a little surprise for the next season 🙂

Besides that, we have Adam Susłowski – he used to compete internationally on a really good level. He trained a lot with Christoph Lensing and brought so much knowledge to Poland. He is a great trainer himself – I’m glad I had opportunity to train with him!

Jan Ratajczak has been always a very good lunger and he still gives lunging clinics in Poland, maybe you’ll see him somewhere on a CVI this year 🙂

Michelle Kung – she’s our national vaulting manager starting from this year. Michelle was a very ambitious vaulter and has a lot of knowledge since she trained with many vaulting people from Germany.

We also have an international judge Elżbieta Dolińska – she has a lot of knowledge and experience. She’s also supporting the growth of vaulting in Poland, trains vaulters and new judges.

We will also have the FEI course in our country thanks to FEI Solidarity Project – ESEE (Equestrian Sport Educative Event). This Educative Event is a tool made to help developing NFs to grow and manage the FEI disciplines at a NATIONAL level in a sustainable manner. Frank Spadinger and Dalibor Blazek will be teaching coaches, vaulters, lungers and judges in Poland.

5. Are there many national competitions? Where are the main competitions?

Yes, there are more and more competitions. I counted 10 planned vaulting competitions in 2018. It’s hard to say which are the main. We still don’t have any national championships, not enough vaulters for that.

6. What would you need most to be able to compete and develop vaulting in your country?

I think we should definitely get more knowledge about training, techniques, rules and a proper vaulting horse preparation. We definitely need more well-trained horses so we can compete on our own, not borrowed.

We need also a structure, a good base in our rules that would help beginners and vaulters on lower levels set their training goals in the right direction from the very beginning. So after reaching some levels they could have a good base to FEI rules. The work is in progress.

We should also integrate more as a vaulting community, meet together and work together on changes and improvements, support and cheer for each other at competitions, feel strong together. This strength and support I could see in German national team seems so powerful!

It would be very nice to have a CVI in Poland. Most CVIs are quite far and it costs a lot of money and time to bring horses from Poland to competitions. It’s also nice for other East-European countries to have another competition around. Maybe some Germans would come across our border :). We could provide a low-budget competition for vaulters compared to some other European CVIs.

7. Is it difficult to get vaulting material in Poland? Where do you buy it from?

Yes, a bit. For example – vaulting shoes, we buy them online, but I find it a bit difficult since we don’t have euro in Poland and it’s not so easy for everyone to just pay for it with their normal Polish bank account. It’s also very expensive for Polish people.

There are people that make stuff like barrels, pads, foams – we had them made by Adam Susłowski in our club in Warsaw.

Some people are very creative and just create the materials themselves. There is a little club near my home where the dad of the vaulting girls makes barrels for them.

Several people work with saddler who makes a surcingle on order for them. This way it’s much cheaper than ordering those things from Germany.

8. Please tell us about your journey to the Europeans last year, the plans and the difficulties you had. Did you expect to qualify and why didn’t you go?

I tried to qualify myself individually. I went to 5 CVIs, met many nice people, competed on 5 different horses :).

Each competition came with some mistakes. In Rugby I did a good compulsory round and totally screwed up my tech-test. After that I lost my hope for getting the qualification score and decided just to do my freestyle the best I can and enjoy it, I didn’t have pressure anymore. It went really really well and it was so fun to do it, but I didn’t even care to check the result immediately after. Then my sister called me with congratulations – I was so surprised. The score for my freestyle was sooo good that in the end I got the points I needed. It was a good lesson for me 🙂

I didn’t manage to get another score so I finally couldn’t go to the European Championships. All in all I learned a lot and was very happy about the season, it was very adventurous, because I moved to another country, met new people, trained and competed on different horses. Especially my mindset got changed, I finally started to think more lightly about vaulting and think more about the horse as my partner in crime :).

At the same time the squad in Poland worked very hard and they did a great job I must say! I used to be in the team and because I moved, they needed to replace me with another vaulter. They had a lot of additional difficulties on the way and even though, tried their best and each girl made some improvement. The team had to approach 2 good scores to qualify for Europeans. They made one at the CVI Frenstat. It was a really good performance so the Polish National Federation gave them permission to compete at the Europeans. Unfortunately the parents and the club weren’t able to pay themselves for the whole competition and expensive accreditations, that is why they eventually didn’t take part in it.

9. What are your goals for the next season?

Well, my main goal is to qualify for World Equestrian Games. At the same time I just want to have fun with my team – lunger Nienke De Wolff, my vaulting friend Heleen Brans and horse Dutch Elliot Z. My other goal is to make the audience enjoy watching the programs we prepared 🙂

We also hope to have 3 junior girls representing our country at the European Junior Championships. They are all very talented and eager to learn, I strongly believe they will make it.

10. Are you planning to participate at the WEG 2018?

Yes! That is my current goal. We are working on it!

Thanks to Aleksandra Mazinska for giving us these great insights into vaulting in Poland!


About Aleksandra
Aleksandra (24) is a Polish senior individual vaulter planning to compete at the WEG 2018. She studies sports and at the moment she is doing Erasmus in The Netherlands and trains with Nienke De Wolff. When going back to Poland she would love to use the knowledge to keep on working on the growth of vaulting in her country and help the discipline develop and improve. With her help, maybe we will have a CVI in Poland soon.

Find some basic information about Poland in our infographic: