The Pommel Horse event is one of the six events that make up the male competition circuit in gymnastics. Arguably, it is the most difficult to master of those six events as its rules indicate that at no point can the gymnast stop their movement or hold any position. The movement the gymnast makes are fluid, circular leg swings, and they can touch the pommel horse only with their hands, on both the handles and the horse itself. The athlete’s routines have to be perfected before their performance to ensure minimal mistakes, and the gymnasts themselves have to be at peak fitness, with particular emphasis on core and arm strength.
Although the Pommel Horse apparatus originally comprised of a metal frame with a wooden body and leather cover, the modern horse has been modified to help the athlete’s performance. It is now usually made of plastic, and covered in a material that stops the gymnast from slipping. The handles are also usually plastic.
In the actual performance, the broad rules state that the gymnast must perform on every part of the pommel horse, and that the gymnasts must complete one section of their routine using the handles at the middle of the horse. There are no rules that state whether a routine should be clockwise or anti-clockwise, and often you see athletes change direction after going through an upright position to show dexterity of movement.
Like most gymnastics event, the Pommel Horse routines are scored with reference to their degree of difficulty, and for execution, artistry, and technique. This means that the athlete has to balance all of these aspects in their routine to give themselves the best opportunity to score the winning points.
Although this events is predominantly a male one, women can use this equipment recreationally and do compete using it, just not to an Olympic level. However, that does not mean to say that that won’t change in the future as, as we’ve seen throughout our look into sports, a number of Olympic events have begun as only male sports to be joined by the women in later years. Young male and female athletes like yourselves could be the people to push changes like these through! Who knows!