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Considered by many to be the most difficult of all men's gymnastics events, the pommel horse is also the most subtle. Imagine using the muscles used to hoist yourself up on the kitchen counter, and you'll get the idea of why this event is so tough.
The gymnast must perform an element of value on both ends of the horse, while executing continuous circular movements interrupted only by the required scissors elements. Swinging through the handstand position, with or without turns are allowed. The only part of the body which should touch the apparatus is the hands. The entire exercise should flow with steady, controlled rhythm. Each move is defined by complex hand placements like skills, which require at least three hand placements on one pommel, another requirement on this event.
The difficulty stems from two factors. First, the gymnasts is performing moves that are dominantly done in a circular movement in a horizontal plane. Second, he spends most of each routine on only one arm, as the free hand reaches for another pommel or part of the horse to begin the next skill.
The pommel horse stands 115 cm tall, and the horse itself is 35cm wide by 160cm long. The pommels must be between 40 to 45 cm apart.
Look for a long series of moves with the hands reaching behind the back. The hand placements should be quick, quiet and rhythmic.
It is the only event where gymnasts do not get to stop or pause during the routine. If gymnasts get in trouble, they must continue moving through the routine while making corrections. Because of the constant movement, that is very difficult to do. Also, many of the skills learned in gymnastics can easily be transferred to other events. With the exception of a circle and a flair circle, that is not the case on this apparatus. Pommel horse requires twice as long to master the basic skills.
There are a couple of places where deductions could be taken that are not apparent to the untrained eye; when performing the scissors requirement, most times the hips are not high enough and the legs are not separated enough; and on many of the handstand dismounts, deductions are taken for not making it completely up to a handstand, or for doing a dismount that is non-commensurate with the rest of the routine. Text taken from www.usa-gymnastics.org
Click on the British Gymnastics for further information