A good two point is dependent on these four things:
- A Strong Base of Support (BOS)
My definition of base of support agrees with the Manual of Horsemanship and Horsemastership, vol. 1. “The base of support is formed by those parts of the rider’s body in contact with the saddle and horse, from the points of the pelvic bones down along the inside of the thighs, to and including the knees, legs, and stirrups.”
Base of support changes.
The seat is part of the BOS when the rider is seated in the saddle. When the rider jumps and the seat is no longer in the saddle, it’s no longer part of the BOS. The foot or stirrup is no longer part of the BOS when the rider rides without stirrups. BOS changes.
The parts of BOS that I’m concerned with for this post are the thigh, knee, calf, and foot in the stirrup. Don’t let students jump until these body parts are solid and strong.
Strengthening your student’s BOS takes a watchful eye. Be sure students have their legs in the correct balance relationship with their body and the horse. Strengthening takes hours in the saddle both riding with and without stirrups, correctly.
CAVEAT—Even though the rider’s seat will be out of the saddle in two point, it is highly unlikely that a rider can develop a good BOS before they have developed a good seat.
For more on the BOS read: Changing the Base of Support.
2. Strong Core Muscles.
Strong core muscles are important for a good two point. A strong core will help hold your students in two point. And a strong core keeps the rider from falling back into the saddle on the descent side of the jump.
The fastest way for students to develop a strong core is to workout in between lessons. Give your students a workout routine for the core. Leg lifts and sit ups help to strengthen core muscles.
Being flexible in the ankles, knees and hips is important to a good two point because these shock absorbers move a lot during two point and jumping.
4. No Crest Release.
The crest release, long or short, does not help a 2 point position, mainly because it undermines the base of support. If you don’t have a good base of support you don’t have a good two point.
NOTE: I did not say not to teach your students crest release. The crest release has it’s place in the teaching progression. The crest release does not help your student’s two point.
If you teach your students to support their upper body by placing their hands on the horse’s neck you have usurped the job of the base of support and the core muscles. Instead of developing two strong points — knees and thighs or left leg and right leg, however you choose to define it— you create a tripod of support. Left leg + right leg+ hands or knees + thighs + hands.
To develop a good two point your students need to learn to ride two point on the flat without touching the horse’s neck. Once their two point is established and their base of support is strong, then teach them the crest release for jumping. But teach crest release with the goal of one day moving up to jumping with an automatic release.
For more about hands and the base of support read: Are Hands Part of the Base of Support in Jumping.
Crest release dependency interferes with your student’s ability to guide their horse. How can they turn right or left and make slight corrections of direction if their hands are planted in the mane? How can they use leg aides for direction if their base of support is weak?
The crest release combined with a weak base of support contributes to students learning to jump ‘ahead of the horse’. Instead of the weight going through the body and into the legs it’s partially supported forward on the horse’s neck.
What are your suggestions for developing a good two point? Do you have a favorite way to teach two point?
Thanks for reading The Riding Instructor.
Barbara Ellin Fox