Seven riders attended this meeting. After going through a detailed inspection, they mounted up. The members learned more about the basic balanced position and 2-point position. Each rider got the opportunity to practice walking and trotting over low cavaletti while in 2-point. Near the end of the meeting, Mary and Ginger asked to see the members canter to get a better idea of next steps.
Pony club teaches a 2-point balanced position as the foundation for riding over fences. Sometimes this is called half-seat.
A 2-point position is one where from the the basic balanced position, the rider folds at the hips and leans forward to so that the shoulder is directly over the knees and the hips and heel is still in alignment. As the hips fold, so do the knees and ankles so that the riders seat just hovers out of the saddle, and all their weight is in their heels.
Similar to the basic balanced position, the legs are draped around the horses barrel with the heels and toes pointed forward (not out to the side). Heels remain below the ball the foot.
The core is engaged and the back is straight (not arched or hunched over). Shoulders are in a relaxed neutral position and the seat is slightly lifted out of the saddle.
The head is up, alert, and looking ahead. Looking down at the jump as the horse goes over it is a common mistake. If you look down, you twist slightly in the saddle. This causes the horse to be off balance. Instead pick a spot in the distance and focus on that spot while your horse goes over the jump.
The elbows remain relaxed and move forward with the body. The hands remain soft and supple moving slightly up the neck to allow a release as the horse jumps. It is very important that the rider not use the reins to balance while in this position. If you find this difficult, use a neck strap to help balance so that you are not hurting your horse by pulling or jerking on the reins.
When jumping, it is critical that the horse and rider stay balanced together. The rider must follow the horse's movement over each fence. The larger the jump, the more the rider must fold their hips and knees to stay with the horse. For bigger jumps, riders will often shorten their stirrups before riding the course.
If the rider does not fold at the hips, he/she will be left behind when the horse jumps. This makes it impossible for the two of them to remain balanced and often the rider will hang on the reins which can quickly sour a horse to jumping.
If the rider leans too far forward, he/she will be ahead of the horses movement. This often causes a horse to refuse the jump, because there is too much weight on it's forehand. In this position riders are very unbalanced because their weight is no longer in their heels. This will also cause the riders legs to slip back and no longer stay underneath them preventing the legs from absorbing the impact when the horse lands.
Pony club teaches a basic balanced position as the foundation for riding.
A basic balanced position is one where the ear - shoulder - hip - heel are all in alignment. This balanced position allows the rider to be more effective in the use of aids and have better control of gaits. Because the rider is balanced on the horse and with the horse's movement the two are able to have a relaxed partnership instead of impeding each other.
Legs should be relaxed and draping around the horse's barrel with the heels down, open at the hips with knees and toes pointed forward. To achieve this, try dropping your stirrups and stretch your leg out then back, then try to pick up your stirrups without moving your thighs forward
Your back should be straight with your core engaged. Try not to slouch forward or hollow your back. This will rotate your pelvis and make your seat less effective. Rotate you shoulders back and keep your eyes up and looking ahead of you.
There should be a straight line from your elbows to your wrist and down the reins to the bit. Elbows should be softly bent and hanging vertically from your shoulders. Reins can be shortened or lengthened to achieve the optimum contact with your horse while still maintaining good position. Hands should be soft and steady to avoid jerking on your horse's mouth.
Four riders were present with their horses.
Mary and Ginger were instructing together. They introduced basic balanced position and 2-point position. Riders practiced both positions at the walk and trot. They also walked and trotted over ground poles.
It was fun to see the girls ride together as a group. Homework is to practice riding in the basic balanced position and then go up to 2-point for 4-6 strides, then back to basic balanced position.