Leticia Nussbaum

Written by Leticia Nussbaum

Modified & Updated: 02 Mar 2024

Jessica Corbett

Reviewed by Jessica Corbett

Source: Olympics.com

The pommel horse is a fascinating apparatus used in artistic gymnastics. It is often considered one of the most challenging and exciting events to watch in gymnastics competitions. The pommel horse, also known as the side horse, is a pair of handles or pommels mounted on a metal frame and covered with leather. Gymnasts perform a series of intricate and gravity-defying skills on the pommel horse, showcasing their agility, strength, and balance.

In this article, we will delve into 14 interesting facts about the pommel horse that you may not have known before. Whether you are a gymnastics fan, an aspiring athlete, or simply curious about the sport, these facts will give you a deeper understanding and appreciation for this remarkable discipline. So, let’s dive right into the world of the pommel horse and uncover some fascinating insights!

Key Takeaways:

  • The pommel horse originated in ancient Greece as training equipment for cavalry soldiers and is now a key component in men’s artistic gymnastics, requiring strength, flexibility, and coordination.
  • Gymnasts perform intricate routines on the narrow pommel horse, showcasing their mastery of transitions between the two pommels and competing for medals and national pride at the Olympic Games.
Table of Contents

Origins of the Pommel Horse

The pommel horse has its origins in ancient Greece, where it was used as training equipment for cavalry soldiers.

Key Component in Men’s Artistic Gymnastics

The pommel horse is one of the six apparatus used in men’s artistic gymnastics competitions.

Supports a Wide Range of Skills

The pommel horse requires a combination of strength, flexibility, and coordination, and allows gymnasts to perform various skills including circles, flairs, and scissors.

Unique Shape

The pommel horse is characterized by its elongated shape, featuring a padded body and two wooden handles, or pommels, on top.

Narrow Width

The pommel horse has a narrow width of 35-45 centimeters, requiring gymnasts to maintain balance and control while performing intricate routines.

Routine Duration

In competitions, gymnasts perform routines on the pommel horse that typically last between 50 and 70 seconds.

Scoring System

The pommel horse routine is judged based on execution, difficulty, and composition, with deductions taken for errors such as leg separations and falls.

Famous Pommel Horse Specialists

Gymnasts such as Max Whitlock, Louis Smith, and Krisztian Berki are famous for their expertise and success on the pommel horse.

Execution Challenges

The pommel horse requires precise timing, rhythm, and body control, making it one of the most challenging apparatus in gymnastics.

Transition Between Pommels

Gymnasts perform intricate and seamless transitions between the two pommels, showcasing their mastery of the apparatus.

Historical Evolution

The pommel horse has evolved over time, with modifications made to the shape, padding, and handles to enhance performance and safety.

Pommel Horse in Artistic Routines

The pommel horse is often incorporated into elaborate artistic routines, where gymnasts showcase their creativity and flair.

Training Intensity

Athletes who specialize in the pommel horse undergo rigorous training regimes, focusing on building strength, flexibility, and perfecting their skills.

Pommel Horse in Olympic Games

The pommel horse is one of the apparatus contested in men’s artistic gymnastics at the Olympic Games, where gymnasts compete for medals and national pride.

The pommel horse is a challenging and captivating apparatus, requiring a unique combination of strength, skill, and artistry. Whether you’re a gymnastics enthusiast or simply appreciating the beauty of the sport, the pommel horse never fails to mesmerize with its dynamic and impressive routines.


In conclusion, the pommel horse is a fascinating apparatus in the world of gymnastics. With its demanding physical requirements and intricate techniques, it showcases the remarkable strength, balance, and precision of gymnasts. Understanding these 14 facts about the pommel horse sheds light on why it is such a unique and challenging event.From its origin in ancient Greece to its position as one of the six apparatuses in men’s gymnastics today, the pommel horse has evolved and captivated audiences worldwide. Its compact size, leather covering, and two handles set it apart from other gymnastics equipment. The variety of moves, such as flairs, circles, and scissors, make the routine visually stunning and technically impressive.Whether you are a gymnastics enthusiast or simply curious about these incredible athletes, the pommel horse is a testament to the dedication, athleticism, and artistry of gymnastics. It continues to be a highlight of gymnastics competitions, captivating audiences with the awe-inspiring skills and performances of gymnasts on the pommel horse.


1. What is the pommel horse?

The pommel horse is a gymnastics apparatus consisting of a rectangular shaped body with two handles on top. It is used primarily in men’s gymnastics routines.

2. How high is the pommel horse?

The pommel horse is approximately 115 centimeters (45 inches) in height, measured from the ground to the top surface.

3. Can women compete on the pommel horse?

No, the pommel horse is not part of women’s artistic gymnastics routines. It is exclusively a men’s event.

4. How is the pommel horse scored?

The pommel horse routine is scored based on the difficulty, execution, and composition of the routine. Judges evaluate the gymnast’s technique, form, precision, and overall performance.

5. What are some common moves performed on the pommel horse?

Common moves on the pommel horse include circles, flairs, scissor elements, and various hand placements and transitions between the handles.

6. How do gymnasts train for the pommel horse?

Gymnasts train for the pommel horse by practicing specific skills and combinations, focusing on strength, flexibility, and body control. They also work on developing a strong core and upper body muscles.

7. Is the pommel horse a difficult event?

Yes, the pommel horse is considered one of the most challenging events in men’s gymnastics. It requires a high level of strength, balance, and coordination to perform the intricate skills and maintain control throughout the routine.

8. Can gymnasts fall off the pommel horse?

Yes, gymnasts can fall off the pommel horse during their routine. Falling off or losing control typically results in point deductions from the overall score.

9. Are there any safety precautions for gymnasts on the pommel horse?

Gymnasts must adhere to safety measures such as using proper grips, maintaining control, and landing safely after dismounting. Coaches and spotters also play a crucial role in ensuring the safety of the gymnast during training and competitions.

10. How long is a pommel horse routine?

A pommel horse routine typically lasts around 70 to 90 seconds, depending on the level of the gymnast and the competition requirements.

11. What are the requirements for a successful pommel horse routine?

A successful pommel horse routine requires a combination of technical skills, fluid transitions, precise hand placements, and creativity. It should demonstrate control, balance, and mastery of the apparatus.

12. Can the pommel horse be used for other purposes?

While the pommel horse is primarily used in gymnastics, it can also be used as a training tool for improving balance, core strength, and body control in other sports and fitness activities.

13. Who holds the records for the highest pommel horse scores?

There are various gymnasts who have achieved record-breaking scores on the pommel horse. These records are usually set in international competitions, world championships, or the Olympic Games.

14. Can anyone learn to perform on the pommel horse?

While gymnastics and pommel horse routines require a high level of skill and training, individuals of any age can learn basic moves on the pommel horse with proper guidance and coaching.

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