British vaulters bring magic and dreams to the Mustang FEI World Championship

Sunday, 07 August 2022

Day two of the FEI World Championships in Herning, Denmark kicked off with the next phase of the opening round of the female individual competition. With two Brits competing in the first block of competitors, it was an early start in the Jyske Bank Boxen for our contingent.

Today’s technical test features five compulsory movements set by the judges, which the vaulters use to demonstrate their balance, timing and coordination, strength, jump force and suppleness. These are combined with exercises chosen by the individual vaulter and arranged into a one-minute programme set to music. The routine is scored out of 10 by the eight judges, based on execution of the exercises, the artistic merit of the routine and a score for the horse.

The scores from today’s technical test are combined with those from yesterday’s compulsories, then divided by two to give a first round score.

Carys Morgan

First in for Britain was 29-year-old Carys Morgan, with lunger Suzi Cusick and horse Demezza.

Rather appropriately for performing with a horse known as ‘Harry’, Carys’s performance was set to a score from the Harry Potter films. Her sparkling black catsuit also featured a small Deathly Hallows symbols between her shoulder blades. The routine had plenty to like and certainly captured the magic and drama of the music choice. However, it was marred by a few errors, including the cartwheel dismount at the end, when Carys missed Demezza’s croup and stumbled on landing. The judges awarded her with 5.627, giving her a first round score of 6.204.

“It was quite a mixed bag, some of it was really, really good – the best I could do them – but there were a few obvious mistakes in there which is annoying,” explained Carys afterwards. “It’s the World Championships, so it’s going to happen, but overall my score’s not too bad so I’m really happy.

“The performance was good and some of the tech moves were nice – the tech needle, jump to backwards. Some not so good – my elbow stand didn’t really hold and my dismount was a bit of a mess – but never mind, that doesn’t normally happen!

“I guess I’m a little disappointed. There are things that can go a bit better than they did, I can get a higher score but, generally, I’m happy – I’m here!”

To even be competing at her first individual championship is a huge achievement for equine veterinarian Carys – with vaulting not part of the Olympic programme, the FEI World Championships are the pinnacle of the sport.

Mhairi Hume

With the competition running in reverse order of merit, straight after Carys came Britain’s second individual female, Mhairi Hume from Stirling in Scotland. Her theme for this performance was ‘the human body’ – her pink and white catsuit included a small heart button on the back as a nod to this.

Aided by lunger Nienke de Wolff and horse Christmas PS Z, who Mhairi has been training with in the Netherlands for the past three months, Mhairi put in a pleasing performance that was full of flair. The judges gave her a score of 6.186, which puts her on a round one score of 6.446.

Watching 19-year-old Mhairi vault, it’s obvious just how much she enjoys it – her face always has an enormous smile in place.

“It’s so much fun – we’re such a good trio together, so it just feels so connected,” she commented “It really came out in my performance today that we’re a team and we work together. I’ve had a mental block on my jump turn to backstand for the last two days, and today I managed to stand it and got a score so I can’t complain, I’m very happy with it.

Competing at a senior World Championship has been Mhairi’s goal since she was a very young girl, so to be here in Herning is a dream come true – no wonder she’s always smiling!

“Honestly, it’s the best feeling ever to be here,” she explained. When I was 10 or 11, I said to my mum, ‘I want to go to the World Championships at senior level’ and at the time I thought maybe it’ll happen, but now I’m here! I have such an amazing support base around me which makes it even better.”

Coming up

With all competitors progressing through to tomorrow’s freestyle final, we’ll see Carys and Mhairi back in the Jyske Bank Boxen tomorrow – we’ll share the times when they become available. Carys will also compete with her team mates from the English Vaulting Squad in the squad freestyle final on Monday.