Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Wonder Team. Wonder Team Wonders, “Why was the pommel horse invented?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Wonder Team!
When you think of a horse, what images come to mind? Perhaps you picture a strong thoroughbred racing across a field. Others might imagine a pony shaking its mane as it trots next to its mother.
If you’re a gymnast, however, you might think of a different horse. It has legs, but it certainly doesn’t run anywhere. In fact, it doesn’t even move at all! What are we talking about? The pommel horse, of course!
The pommel horse is also known as the side horse. It’s a special piece of equipment used in gymnastics routines. They’re traditionally used by male gymnasts during competitions.
Where did pommel horses come from? They started hundreds of years ago as a way to help soldiers practice mounting and dismounting real horses. Pommel horses were originally made of a metal frame with a leather-covered wood body.
Today, pommel horses usually have a metal frame with a foam rubber body covered in leather. They are a little less than four feet tall. Most have a length of five feet and a width of just over one foot. They also feature two plastic handles. These are called pommels, and gymnasts use them during their routines. The pommels stand a little less than five inches high and are usually spaced 18 inches apart.
How do gymnasts perform pommel horse routines? First, they grab the handles on the pommel horse and swing their body up onto the horse. They hold both legs parallel to the horse and then swing around it. They do so while moving their hands from one handle to the other. They also sometimes grip the pommel horse itself.
During the course of a routine, the gymnast must use the entire length of the pommel horse. They must also constantly move their legs in circles. Gymnasts cannot stop once they have mounted the pommel horse. They must keep up constant motion as they perform different types of circles, scissors, and even handstands.
Throughout a pommel horse routine, all of a gymnast’s weight is supported by their upper body. That means they must have exceptional strength in their shoulders, arms, hands, and wrists. Since it doesn’t focus on leg strength, the pommel horse is a gymnastics event that can be performed by people who have experienced traumatic leg injuries.
The pommel horse is the event that often determines the winner of gymnastics competitions. It requires skills that are unique compared to the other events. Doing well in other gymnastics routines is no guarantee that you’ll excel at pommel horse. It takes a special mix of strength, balance, and stamina to be successful.
Have you ever used a pommel horse? Would you like to try? It takes a great deal of training and practice. If you would like to excel at the pommel horse in the future, get started today!
Standards: CCRA.L.3, CCRA.L.6, CCRA.R.1, CCRA.R.2, CCRA.R.4, CCRA.R.10, CCRA.SL.1