Two Point To Help Your Equitation?

First, a disclaimer - I don't jump and am very inexperienced with two point (not my teacher's fault - Joan has wanted me to learn to jump and it's on my goal list for the year to learn how to do low jumps). I've just done it a few times, and thus Rogo knows very little about it either.
When I posted about my equitation goals and two week blitz (still doing it, although we lost time re the lost shoe) I got some great suggestions - no stirrups, bareback and two point were the main themes. I've done lots of no stirrups and bareback, although with Savanah, but two point is pretty new to me. As a refresher, as much for me as anyone else, here are the three equitation goals:
  1. better connection- don't throw it away when he gives - check
  2. long, quiet legs, using the inside of my calf if needed, not the back of my heel
  3. legs long in canter, not creeping up and using my heel to hold the canter
As I mentioned, Kacy at All Horse Stuff sent me an exercise and I mentioned it and got lots of comments and positive feedback. Then Kacy sent me more info, so I thought I'd share it and we can all try it, okay? Keep in mind, she was responding to the video I posted a few days ago about cantering last Sept. I was concerned about my stiff/jerky hands, and also I have set a goal to keep my legs long and heels down in the canter. Kacy set the stage by telling me:

"I'm no instructor, but I've taken so many lessons. My favorite and also, the ones I got so much out of-are the ones with my sissy. She trained with Hilda Gurney, Kevin freeman...and went all throughout Pony Club to an A or B level. She's old school dressage, and has evented. She drills certain thing s into my head, each time we ride, or she gives me a lesson. Things I may overlook, as they seem insignificant. But they do matter, and I'm more aware of them now..."

Okay, right off the bat I'm liking this. Hilda Gurney? Old school dressage? ... Yes!
Here is the first correspondence from her, which explains some background and the exercise (I have permission to share):

"I really don't want to come off critical or anything of that sort so, maybe you could do an experiment..and get back to me.
Set your video up again (or did you have someone? Can't remember). Do all you did before...but before you canter, do a little more trot.  On the short end of the arena, on a ten meter circle...practice playing the piano-with your toes for 2-3 strides. Just one circle, then onto the long wall.  It just means, as you sit or the sit phase of post, lift your balls of your feet off the stirrup slightly..or just lift your toes. Its subtle. Its nothing anyone should notice. On the long wall-try two point for 3 strides, then post 3. Note your leg. Then canter, the same, two point for 3 strides....On the long wall, sit the short. Note your leg. I'm interested in what you find!"

Here is the second set of instructions:

"The reason I mentioned the two point exercise at all is I noticed your toes going down(in video) and it caused you to be off balance, not having your leg where it needed to be. Which then can lead to stiffness in the upper body as you arms are doing jobs they are not supposed to!
Two Point will always show you where your leg and balance needs to you won't be able to stand up in your stirrups, without your leg being there! It is a GREAT recalebrating move to rebalance oneself. My sister has me do it along the whole long wall and sit the short ends...trot and canter.
I shake the venue up by sitting two and rising one or even changing the posting diagonal on the ten meter circle to the inside...helps the horse recalebrate himself too.
Tip- sometimes up one notch- in the stirrup department-is the key. If your feet can't at least rest flat in the stirrups, at walk(and be under you too) you're in for a tough go at'll always be behind the movement. (I found out that the hard way trying for longer legs)."

So, I really appreciate Kacy taking the time to watch the video and provide a detailed exercise on how to address the issues I'm having. I tried the exercise, and although two point doesn't come easily to Rogo and I at this point, we did it and it worked! Of course I'm not magically 'fixed' but my heel went DOWN. This is going to be added to our warm up / routine and we'll get better at it and I feel confident it will help with my equitation issues I've been stuck on. Thanks Kacy!
Today Rogo had a big workout - lunging, riding and free lunging. His contact was really noticeably improving today - when he'd want to stick his nose out at the trot I'd stay firm and he'd come right back to me. This is new. Yeah Rogo!  The legs still need work and with ice coming off the roof again and being there alone I didn't do a lot of now stirrups. I could, he's fine, but I'm nervous :(
I free lunged Savanah and Dan too, over jumps and ground poles. A good time was had by all.


Anonymous said…
Sounds like a great exercise! I had no idea her sister rode with Hilda Guerney, amazing! Kacy is quite an awesome person that I hope to ride the beach with one of these days:) So glad she was able to help you.
Hurricanes12 said…
that sounds like a lot of great advice! hope it helps :)
two point really helped me, as did shortening my stirrups a notch. i didn't know i'd been riding too long and during lengthenings or extensions i would become so unbalanced and lose my stirrups, so that's another good point kacy made :)
cindy said…
Two point can be very useful. I have used it to help my position and also as a warm up and cool down phase. Sometimes when I find my mare stiff at the beginning of a ride I do two point to get off her back for a round or two in each gait. It gives her a chance to loosen up. After a very good ride I use it as a reward and let her trot on a longer rein while I am in two point...she loves allows lots of stretch.
I'm am impressed with your dedication and go girl!!
juliette said…
I think I point my toes at the canter every few strides. The two point exercise sounds perfect. Now, if I could just start! I haven't cantered either of my riding boys yet.
TBDancer said…
The other thing to work on with two-point is having your toes NOT go "easty-westy"--my biggest problem. Right now we're in the midst of our third (or fourth--I've lost track ;o) snow storm, so riding is out of the question. I can't haul to an indoor or covered to ride because my truck is in the shop getting its yearly "look-see." So riding is out of the question--for now. However, I am enjoying Kacy's instruction--and she's right about stirrup length. One of my instructors, a German national, has said many times that one must EARN "long stirrups."
Rising Rainbow said…
Sounds like a great exercise. I can see how it would help. Thanks for passing it on.
Achieve1dream said…
Wow thanks for sharing. That's very interesting! I'm glad it worked so well for you. Keep up the great work.
I'm sure you're going to get much better at two point it's one of the best exercises you can do to weight your heels. I once had an instructor who took my stirrups away. We did a lot of sitting trot and two point that way. It sure gets your legs in shape.

You might find that you and Rogo like jumping, I think it's a blast. It's always been my favorite thing about riding. Don't do it much anymore but it is fun.

Thanks to you and Kacy for this post. I needed something to mix it up in our sessions and Val loves when I'm in two point ;)