DRIVING PONIES | DRIVING DAILY
Driving Clinic Critique Driver #2 - By Suzy Stafford
Monday, April 13, 2020
SUZY STAFFORD - STAFFORD CARRIAGE DRIVING | DRIVING CLINIC PHOTO CRITIQUE BY SUZY STAFFORD
Overall: A pleasant and focused looking team. Both horse and driver’ determination and purpose is evident. A well balanced, prepared duo.
Lower Body: The drivers’ hip to knee angle is slightly closed. I would like to see her knees with a tad more straightness for balance and stability. Her legs are mildly spread apart. This is fine as long as you don’t go overboard as it makes for a sloppy look and makes it more difficult to use the brake pedal (if you have one) efficiently. If your carriage is not “perfectly” set up for your leg length or height you can try a lower back pad, add a cushion under your bum or add a floor wedge to test a few different body angles before you commit to a pricey carriage modification.
Upper body: Her shoulder to hip line looks nice and straight. Her eyes are up, looking well ahead of her horse. A nice general reminder, your point of focus should be one horse length (for singles) in front of your animal.
Arm: The line from her elbow through the wrist to the rein is lovely. From this angle her elbow looks somewhat closed into the sides of body. I would like to see her elbow positioned away from her body slightly. To do a self-check while driving try touching just your thumbs together and roll your shoulders in a backward motion a few times. This will reposition the angle as well as release any tension in your shoulders and elbows. Her hands are perfectly sitting over her knees. Because her wrist angle is good the whip is correctly sitting at a 45 degree angle in “resting“ position.
Rein: The rein contact looks soft with good connection with even pressure. I am happy to see she has the bit (excess) of the rein up off the floor and tucked nicely in her left hand. This is a question I get asked a lot. “What do I do with the extra rein? Hold it? Sit on it? Leave it on the floorboard? The safest thing to do is keep it in your hand, across your wrist or utilize the pinky loop. You never want the risk of the excess rein dropping down near the wheel or getting caught up in your brake pedal! (ask me how I know!)
Horse: This guy looks to be in great weight with a nice shine. He looks well-muscled and developed for the job at hand. I love his focus on the driver. Listening with both ears to upcoming cues from his driver. The energy from front to back looks very symmetrical. The leg triangles are even in the suspension phase of the gait. Ideally you would like to see the triangle of the hind legs to match the triangle made by the front legs in the moment of suspension. I would love to see the horse working more in an uphill posture. This of course is based on stage of training, strength and conformation. I love the length of neck and throat latch position. The horse’s nose is pleasantly right in front of the vertical.
Turn-out: This pair looks clean, tidy with safe, well fit equipment. What stands out visually for me is the apron. I would love to see an apron color that blends in with the carriage a bit more seamlessly. It is tradition that the apron matches the seat fabric. That being said, I am not a traditionalist, but I do think the color choices should blend from one to the other. I love the fall colors of the jacket and hat. Very well tied together with a clean fit to show off this drivers good posture! I like the jewelry accents, subtle and classy. This pair looks ready to take on the competition.