‘Fraidy Cat Eventing had a really great blog post on two-point position not too long ago that resonated a lot with me. Her theory is that a rider has a solid position over fences if you can erase the horse from the picture, if the rider, (while maintaining the same position) drops straight to the ground, stays upright (you know, not face-planting or ass-planting). I really liked this description because you see so many different types of two-point from world-class riders that the definition of “perfect two-point position” gets easily muddled. Plus, I’ve always felt that rider body type isn’t taken into consideration enough in this discussion.
First, I want to look at some of the different styles of two-point that I’ve noticed. I’m not here to say one is more correct than the other, as these are all really great and accomplished riders. But their form is quite different. Obviously there are many factors that come into play here, including height and width of the jump, pace, distance, desired result, etc. etc. These factors all play a part in the minute difference’s in each of the rider’s two-points below, but at the end of the day they are all doing the same thing: guiding a horse over a jump. It’s the rider’s job to get the horse to the jump, and the horse’s job to actually jump the jump… on a very basic level, once in the air, the rider is just trying to stay out of the way.
Of course, that’s a very dumbed down version of what all is occurring, but the point is that the equestrian industry’s top riders all have very distinct differences between their two-points. While I think that we as riders are constantly working to improve, I also think it’s important to keep in mind that what is ideal for one person might not be ideal for another… for a variety of reasons.
It’s easy to get sucked into the trap of comparing yourself to others. I enjoy looking at photos, especially of my friends, and it’s hard not to get down on myself about the things I need to work on (of which the list is very long). But I also need to cut myself some slack, because I don’t ride the same way they do, I don’t have the same exact goals, and my horse doesn’t go around the ring the same way.
My style of two-point is not popular in the hunter or equitation rings. I look more like I’m going cross-country then I do jumping a 2’6″ hunter brush box, and I’m pretty self-conscious about that. While my jumping position still leaves a lot to be desired, it’s actually improved a lot in the last few years, which I’m really proud of. But my hip angle still doesn’t close like Kelley Farmer’s… or the other girls I ride with.
In a recent lesson, this topic came up briefly and my trainer made a few comments that hit home. She said “I don’t want you to look like that, because you’re not built that way.” And she’s right. I’ve always struggled to keep my weight down in my lower legs because I physically carry more of my weight in the upper half of my body. To be blunt — my boobs are way bigger than my ass. It’s just how I’m built. So bringing my upper body back (or opening up my hip angle AFTER a jump) is always going to be more difficult for me.
The second thing she said is: “If you had a pre-green horse that you knew wasn’t ever going to play after the jumps, maybe I would be more concerned about [your breakover].” Again, spot on. I love Miles, but sometimes he plays after the jumps, and if my weight is too far forward, I roll right off his shoulder. So I need to keep my weight back a little bit, just in case. For a better rider, they can still breakover and snap back up just fine… but I’m still working on that skill.
So, I guess my point is this: there’s no such thing as “one correct two-point” position. It depends on the horse, the rider, what the pair is doing and what the goal is. For my horse (who sometimes plays after jumps), and myself (someone who carries too much weight in the upper half of my body), and the fact that we’re jumping 2’6″ hunter fences, my jumping position is just fine. Of course, I’m always working to improve things, but just because it isn’t stylish, doesn’t mean it’s wrong.