Horsemanship How-to: Master the Two-Point Position

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Practicing Two-Point

English riders are introduced to the two-point position
during their first few lessons. But western riders can improve their position,
too, by practicing in two-point. Here’s how to do it properly.

But first it’s important to know the definition of
“two-point.” Hunt seat guru George Morris is credited with popularizing the term
in the 1970s. A rider sitting in a three-point position had contact with their
horse through their seat and their two legs. Once the rider assumed a more
forward jumping position their seat was elevated out of the saddle. They then
had only two points of contact: their two legs, placed against their horse’s
sides.

Despite what you might think, two-point is more complicated
than simply standing up in your stirrups. Instead, begin by stretching your
calf muscles so your legs wrap around the sides of your horse. Then sink your
weight down into your heels, securing your leg slightly behind the girth. Now
rise up from just your knees, so that your pelvis is suspended above your
saddle by just a few inches. Finally, close your hip angle, that part of your
body where your torso connects to your hip bones. Don’t make the mistake of
breaking over at your waist. Instead, tighten your core muscles and bend at
your hip.

As your horse walks forward, you’ll feel unsteady at first. To
help maintain your balance, push your hands forward onto your horse’s neck,
about halfway up the mane. Also allow your body’s angles to incorporate the
motion of your horse and act like shock absorbers. Your ability to assume and
hold the two-point position depends on the strength and position of your lower
leg. If your leg slips too far back, you’ll fall forward onto your horse’s
neck. If your leg is shoved in front of the girth, you’ll keep tumbling back
into the saddle.

Indeed, the two-point position’s biggest benefit is that it
forces you to develop a secure, tight leg. And, since your lower leg is
essentially the basis of support for your entire body in the saddle, practicing
the two-point position regularly will only enhance your riding, whether you
pursue jumping or perfecting your western horsemanship.

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Cindy Hale
Cindy Hale’s life with horses has been filled with variety. As a child she rode western and learned to barrel race. Then she worked as a groom for a show barn, and was taught to harness and drive Welsh ponies. But once she’d taken her first lessons aboard American Saddlebreds she was hooked on English riding. Hunters and hunt seat equitation came next, and she spent decades competing in those divisions on the West Coast. Always seeking to improve her horsemanship, she rode in clinics conducted by world-class riders like George Morris, Kathy Kusner and Anne Kursinski. During that time, her family began raising Thoroughbred and warmblood sport horses, and Cindy experienced the thrills and challenges of training and showing the homebred greenies. Now retired from active competition, she’s a popular judge at local and county-rated open and hunter/jumper shows. She rides recreationally both English and western. Her Paint gelding, Wally, lives at home with her and her non-horsey husband, Ron.

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