To prepare my riders for "No Stirrups November," I'm initiating "Two-Point October." I ride in my half-seat all the time, and I always preach to my students that they will learn to be comfortable and strong enough in their half-seat to be able to eat a slice of pizza while cantering around the ring. This month will help them get there.
For those of you who haven't heard of the terms: two-point or half seat, let me explain. You will hear a lot of slightly different definitions depending on the trainer and their background. To me, half-seat and two-point have been one and the same. "Two-point" is referring to having two points of contact with your horse: your right and left leg. "Three-point" would include having contact with your seat as well. In two-point, your seat should not touch the saddle. Two-point is also referred to as "Jumping Position" or "Forward Seat."
To rise up into two-point, the rider must drop their weight down into their heels while lifting their seat out of the saddle. To maintain balance, the hips shift back while the hip angle closes, bringing the upper body forward. The chest and shoulders remain open and the back long and straight. There must be a softness in the hips, knees, and ankles to absorb any concussion depending on your horse's gait.
The benefits of riding in two-point are immense. For the horse, it frees up their back, allowing them to move freely while galloping, jumping, or going up a hill. For the rider, practicing two-point in all gaits helps to develop a secure leg. It helps stretch the leg and get the heel down, all while improving balance. I am a huge advocate of the American Forward Riding System, preached by Bernie Traurig and George Morris. I attended a Bernie Traurig clinic over the summer during which Bernie praised my half-seat. I almost always show my hunters in a half-seat, although there are certainly times when a full seat is called for in training or showing.
For the sake of "Two-Point October," I will start by introducing the two-point position at all gaits: walk, trot, and canter. As the month goes on, students will have to hold their two-point position for longer stretches of time. By the last week in October, our goal is to spend an entire lesson in two-point position! In the past, George Morris has been known to put thumbtacks on his students' saddles to prevent them from touching down. Let's hope we are strong enough by the end of the month to avoid that tactic. ;) Hashtag your photos #twopointoctober and lets start a movement!