How difficult is 2 point? What does it take to do it well?
I haven't started learning it yet, but it makes me a bit nervous. At what point in lessons does someone usually start learning it?
You usually begin learning it after you have the posting trot down, or at least on its way to perfection. Some trainers teach the 2-point before the sitting trot, which, IMO is not correct. IMO, a rider should learn a sitting trot first, then 2-point, then posting, but that's just me, lol. I learned these things from an older German Dressage trainer/rider and that's the order she taught me (or re-taught me, as the case may be, lol. she didn't like my foundation, so she started me over). Once you have the feel for the sitting trot, you can more easily learn to two-point, which leads to solid posting.
Anyhow, it's not difficult really, but it is tiring. You have to stand in the stirrups, relax your heels down, keep your back flat (bent at the hips), your upper body over the horse, shoulder's back but not tense, and only lightly rest your hands at the base of the horse's neck. This takes a LOT of core strength and leg muscle. You need to do all of this while keeping your knees, hips, and ankles loose, so they can absorb the bounce of the trot and your back stays level. I had a hunter trainer who made us 2-point around with a small foam ball at the small of our backs. Yeah, that was fun, lol.
To prepare for this intense workout, get some Pilates DVDs or take some Pilates classes. Get a big exercise ball and work on sit-ups, back lifts, etc. using the ball. Go to the gym or YMCA and swim laps using a kick board. Also work on the leg press machine, light weight and LOTS of reps. Have a weight trainer show you how to use the machine correctly, even if you think you know how, just to make sure you're targeting the correct muscles.
If you do the above, trust me, you'll be the best prepared beginner of your group, and your trainer will love you for it, lol. If you don't, then prepare for some serious torture and start carrying ibuprophen with you to the barn... ;-) I do NOT have fond memories of learning the two point, either time I went through it, lol.
I second the explanation above... However I don't remember the pain! I don't think I found it that hard, but I learnt it after I had beenr iding for a while, so I had the basics down pat. I would make sure you can walk/trot/canter all with an independant seat, as the wirst thing you can do when elarning 2 point is to balance off the horses mouth. However I was also taught never to lean on the neck, so you really need an independant seat to be able to balance.
im on my way then! i post and sit the trot pretty well. I'm focusing a lot on making sure my hands stay steady and my legs stay still but my seat is doing well.
luvs2ride, I will definitely take your advice and work on my core muscles. I am definitely not in the shape I used to be.
Wow, I'm really surprised at how long you guys wait to learn a 2 point! I start teaching it during the very first lesson! Right after they learn to steer. It's a great way of explaining balance and why you keep your heels in a straight line down from your hips. I have them get up into their 2 point and push their legs way forward and they can feel their upper body fall back (and push their legs back, etc). Granted at this stage they have to lean on the neck for a bit but as their legs get stronger I make them take their hands off and use only their legs. It is one of my favorite leg strengthening exercises because it is hard. But also it's hard to get into a proper 2 point with your leg in the wrong place. So it makes them work hard, with their leg in the proper position. As opposed to posting, lots of people can manage to post with an improper leg. So we do a LOT of work at the 2 point! Luvs2ride gave a great explanation on how to do it well. The key is to keep your 'angles' relaxed. Your hips, knees, and ankles will absorb the motion so if you get stiff it's easy to lose your balance.
There's one problem with teaching it early, it can reinforce the "fetal position". When a lot of people get scared on horseback, they lean forward, curling into a fetal position. This of course is dangerous and usually ends up with the rider on the ground...
To teach balance, my Dressage/Eventing instructor had us stand in our stirrups, but stay straight in our upper body. This was more difficult than a 2-point for balancing, and made our balance or lack there of quite apparent.
I've been teaching my daughter from the start (she first was on a horse at 8 months old!), and a few of her friends ;-). I'm no pro-trainer/instructor, but I have had a lot of training myself (showed to 2nd level Dressage and 4' jumpers) and I do enjoy teaching people things (I'm a college instructor for computers and web design). I have them all learn bareback first (on a bareback pad w/handle) and a lunge line (no reins). We work on balance on the lunge line at the walk and trot by doing work with our eyes closed, hands out to the side, hands straight up, hands straight out, then all the hands/arms work WITH eyes closed. The girls really like it (tons of giggling going on, lol) and it really seems to work on their balance and core strength. Only when they're confident with a sitting trot on the lunge (a slower trot, but still moving out well) do I give them a saddle and let them learn to use the reins. Once they master steering (at the walk and sitting trot), stopping, and backing up, then they learn two-point and posting, in that order.
The above is a slower process, but I'm not doing it for money and the girls don't have any agendas (we don't have many shows around here). They all have great seats and can sit some nasty spooks! When my mare's in season, she thinks everything is a boogeyman, lol. I don't let the girls ride her while she's in season until I think they can handle it though, but I do put them up there! It's a good learning experience. Bridgette doesn't spook too bad, just spins, goes sideways, or "scoots" forward, then stops. She never runs off, rears, or bucks.
Anyhow, I've written a book. Time to go make breakfast and get my day started!
I see some of the instructors where I go teaching 2 point to beginners, but those are usually the younger children. Unfortunately, I think if I had been asked to do 2 point my first day, or even first week, I would have been discouraged. My balance is good, but my muscle strength is just coming back to me.
I think I learned the 2 point early on, but not within my first couple months of lessons. It does take a lot of balance, which many riders don't have yet when they're just starting to learn. It's easy once you get it though! You just have to really work on your core and your leg strength! Good luck! :-)
Don't be nervous, it's not that difficult. You usually start learning it after you have your posting trot down. To do a 2 point well, you need some muscle! It is tiring work at first! A good one for leg muscle is wall-sits. A wall sit is when you lean against the wall and go down in a squat but you stop at a 90 degree angle and stay in that position for a while. It is harder than it looks to do a wall-sit!
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