Equestrian vaulting is most often described as gymnastics and dance on horseback, which can be practiced both competitively or non-competitively. Vaulting has a history as an equestrian act at circuses, but its origins stretch back at least two-thousand years. It is open to both men and women, and is one of ten equestrian disciplines recognized by the International Federation for Equestrian Sports (Fédération Équestre Internationale or FEI).
It is believed by some that the origins of vaulting could be traced to the ancient Roman games, where acrobats usually displayed their skills on cantering horses. Others, however, believe that vaulting originated in ancient Crete, where Bull-leaping was prevalent. In either case, people have been performing acrobatic and dance-like movements on (or over) the backs of moving horses/animals for more than 2,000 years.
Renaissance and Middle Ages history include numerous references to vaulting or similar activities. The present name of the sport/art comes from the French "La Voltige," which it acquired during the Renaissance, when it was a form of riding drill and agility exercise for cavalry riders. Modern vaulting developed in post-war Germany as an initiative to introduce children to equestrian sports.