At my last lesson, Trainer D said that I needed to practice two point as much as I possibly could. I had agreed that that was a good idea and promised to do it. And I haven’t kept up with that promise. I’ve practiced the two-point intentionally just to practice two point once or twice since that lesson. That is nowhere near enough to actually build muscle up. So I need to make an effort to actually follow through with practicing this.
Friday, I was determined to practice. I knew that I wanted to practice my balance at the walk first rather than at the trot or the canter. The same muscles are used no matter what the speed but the canter is easier for me because of the horse’s movement underneath me. So I figured that would work perfectly for cooling out. I warmed Scarlet up and trotted over the poles set out in the arena. They rode odd at the trot and so I cantered past them on the side to see if they were set up for an okay canter stride length. Scarlet’s default stride is small-ish so it would have ridden odd.
When I was training with a dressage/eventing trainer before moving down to SD, she had been encouraging me to ride him forward at the canter, even to the point of it becoming a hand gallop. What she wanted was for an actual moment of air time. She explained that sometimes you have to ask for more and more forward from a horse before you can bring them back to a reasonable speed. Once we get the forward and suspension and then build up the muscle, then we can work on getting a smooth, unhurried canter. I hadn’t really been bugging Scarlet about moving out too much but I
I hadn’t really been bugging Scarlet about moving out for a while but I thought that might give me a good stride length for the canter poles, so I booted Scarlet forward. He was very willing to go forward but it took a lot more riding from me to keep him balanced. We went past the poles again and this time the striding looked better. The next time we came up to the poles, I asked him to go over them. It felt very bounce-like and Scarlet didn’t touch the poles. He also didn’t feel like he had to reach too much to keep the stride. We went over the poles like that a couple of times both ways. Then I decided that I wanted to go over jumps.
We went over the poles like that a couple of times both ways. Then I decided that I wanted to go over jumps. The line that had ridden odd the last time we jumped had been moved to a crossrail then vertical. I kept Scarlet at the good canter and turned him toward that line. It rode fantastic. He over jumped the first time but I’m always prepared for that with him as that tends to be his default. The second time was perfect. The other line that normally rides great rode really squiggly but I was very happy with his poles and the first line so I decided that line wasn’t worth it.
After the little bit of jumps, I put Scarlet back on the rail and rose up in my stirrups. Finding the right balance for my two point takes a bit. I think my stirrups were a bit long this time as my lower legs kept feeling like they were sinking down and down, rather than stabilizing me. I did manage to get two full laps at the walk and be able to move one arm at a time out into airplane position. Trainer D said it was okay to grab mane because I still have to use my muscles when I’m up there. I can definitely feel my back muscles working hard to keep me stable.
I got Scarlet a bit farther down the path to the trail as well. But, when I asked him to halt and just chill at the end of it, he was a little freaked out. He tried to spin and run back to the barn. He only really got the spin out as I was able to stop him from moving forward. Since he couldn’t move forward he moved sideways and it took a bit before he listened to my leg and stopped. I got him back to the path and we stood there for a bit before heading back. Progress but we aren’t going to be able to push too much more without him freaking out. I’m going to stay at that point for a bit so I can get him to relax and get used to being that far out on his own.
Saturday, I practiced two point again. I got about two laps of walk and two of trotting. I did raise my stirrups one hole and that felt much better as far as lower leg position. Amazingly, I was able to feel the shock absorbing movement of my hips this time at the trot. It wasn’t fantastic. I wasn’t able to move my hands much. But I was able to ride the two point and not splat. Go me!
My plan is to try to end each ride doing a bit of walk and trot two point until I feel like I’m secure enough to actually ride at the trot. Once I’m there, I’ll try to include two-point trotting in the middle of the ride, where I actually get Scarlet to move off of my legs and do things while in the two point. That might take a bit though!