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Two Point and Cross Rails

Two-point position keeps you close to the saddle but off your horse’s back as he gallops and jumps. In this position you will be over your horse’s center of gravity and in correct balance for jumping.  Once you can get into and stay in a two-point, it is time to start going over small cross rails. Cross rails are the easiest obstacle for your horse to jump.

Two Point Position

To begin jumping small fences you need to know what a two point position is and how to ride in it effectively. Two-point position, also called a half seat, is used to get your weight off the horse’s back when jumping. To get into a two point start at a halt, sink all your weight into your heel and gently lift yourself off his back, creating a small clearance between you and the saddle.  Place your hands about a third of the way up his neck. Press down lightly into his neck with your hands.  Make sure your legs are underneath yourself and your head is up. Once you get the hang of it at a standstill move on to the walk. When you are comfortable practice this position for short amounts of time at all three gaits, then you can work on your position without using your horse’s neck for support. Start getting into two-point about 2-3 strides before you go over trot and canter poles, again add speed as you gain confidence.

2 point
An example of two point position.

Cross Rails

Set up a small cross rail once you feel your two-point position is secure. The fence can be as tall as you feel comfortable; 12 inches high is a good place to start. Anything lower than that most horses just step over. Start working in a steady trot. Look up at the fence keeping your horse straight between your hands and legs. Once you get about 3 strides away from the jump get into two-point, look up, and focus on the top of the jump and a spot beyond it. Press your hands about halfway up your horse’s neck in a long crest release. For your first few jumps grab some mane when you get into your two point before the fence. You want the horse to enjoy jumping, making extra sure that you don’t pull on his mouth. Stay focused on your position while your horse makes an effort over the jump.

Tips

How did your jump feel? Did you feel out of balance? Did your horse jump huge? Did you lose your position? Try having someone record your ride to see exactly how your position and horse look while jumping. You may be making a mistake that you would not otherwise notice.

trot pole
Look where you want to go, over the jump.

If your jump went great keep practicing both directions over the cross rail until you feel comfortable to move on. If you felt out of balance go back to trotting and cantering over poles in two-point. If your horse spooks over the jump go back to lunging him over the same jump you plan to use under saddle. If while jumping you feel like you’re losing your position stop jumping for now and work on your leg strength. A good strengthening exercise is holding a half seat on the short side of the arena then go back to a full seat for the long side, gradually building up how long you can be in two-point.



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