Kāpiti Vaulting Club steps on to world stage

A GROUP of Kāpiti vaulters are $70,000-80,000 short of their dream to represent New Zealand at this year’s World Equestrian Games in Kentucky.

ALL ABOARD: Coach Catarina Strom holds Razz while, from left, Ryanne Vasta, Sophia O’Connor and Brooke Dunstan show their moves on top, while standing, from left, are fellow travellers to the US, Lilly-Claire Palmer, Evangeline Goldie, Bronte Eggels and Mikayla Brown.

Three years of personal and group fundraising has brought together about $55,000 but Kāpiti Vaulting Club has been knocked back by charitable trusts.

Swedish head coach Catarina Strom says a lot of hard work has gone into the project.

The group of eight dedicated vaulters and coaches are what inspired Strom to take the club to another level and represent the country overseas.

But the fundraising ideas such as flower selling, raffle tickets, beer fests and motorbike trail rides which have been used so far will not be enough.

“I think at the moment for the amount we are looking for to get to the world games, we need to do more than raffle tickets.”

Most of the shortfall revolves around getting Razz, the horse that the vaulters work with, to the US and back. If the funds can’t be raised they will have to use an unfamiliar local horse.

Strom says the vaulting club has applied for many different grants and sponsorships to help with the travel costs but so far has not been successful.

This is despite the children and coaches demonstrating their commitment with their own personal fundraising.

“We have said to each kid that they have to have between $5000 and $8000 dollars themselves to go to the world games, and at the moment all of them have pretty much saved $5000.

“When we decided about three years ago that we were going to go to the world games, everyone in the club who was interested in coming set up a savings account, and they had to save $100 a month.”

Raising enough money to meet the $135,000 dollar estimated cost is not the only obstacle the vaulting club will have to overcome for the trip of up to five weeks.

Strom says the soundness of the horse and injuries among the children, the youngest of whom is only nine, are also factors that may prevent the eight-strong team from competing.

Hopefully, one of the team’s greatest assets will be top Swiss vaulter Ruth Maerki, who has been training with the club for the past four years.

Maerki has competed at an international level in America and France with her Swiss team, but is now set on representing a New Zealand club, as long as visa issues are worked out.

“For the last year I’ve been training six days a week, and at the moment we are down to five days a week, but a bit more intense, normally for at least two hours.”

Vaulting is quite different to normal horseback riding and is done in a much more controlled environment, she says.

Strom believes going to the world games to win a gold medal is not what it’s all about.

To compete and represent New Zealand overseas would bring more recognition to the small vaulting industry here, she says.

“Hopefully we would be more recognised by the equestrian federation and NZ and hopefully it will be easier for us to help other clubs start up in the country.

There are only two other clubs in NZ, one in Auckland and one in Napier. They are very small.”