DRIVING PONIES | DRIVING DAILY
Driving Clinic Photo Critique #3 - By Suzy Stafford
Monday, April 13, 2020
SUZY STAFFORD - STAFFORD CARRIAGE DRIVING | DRIVING CLINIC PHOTO CRITIQUE BY SUZY STAFFORD
Overall: A cute and well put together team with a workman like expression.
Lower Body: It is hard to see the entire lower half of this driver in this photo. Her hip to knee angle is a bit closed. This tends to pull your center of balance upward and slightly back. Most driver compensate for this feeling of imbalance by rolling their shoulders forward and rounding their back. This driver looks as though she has a slight roundness to her back. A possible solution with a cart like this would be to try a wedge shape seat cushion. As you can see, this cart has a flat cushion. The cart also has a flat floor, this makes it more difficult to position your feet out in front of you. A good way to help keep yourself balanced from front to back is, with your knees together, rest one foot in front of your hip and the other foot behind your hip.
Upper body: Her shoulder to hip angle is a tipped a bit forward. Therefore, her shoulders are a bit rounded, that has in turn dropped her hands a bit. I think they may be caused by fit of this cart to the driver and horse (more on that later). See above for good carriage solutions. She can also try engaging her core and rolling both shoulders backwards as a relaxing warm up. She is looking up and forward with the Eye of the Tiger" concentrated expression.
ARM: I like the angle from her elbow thru the reins. I would prefer to see her hands a tad higher but I do think this is a residual effect of the rounded back. Her hands look nice and tidy. The whip is sitting on a slightly forward angle. She could be in “mid swing” but at resting position I would like to see the 45 degree angle shifted closer to her left shoulder. A good exercise to practice using your wrist to gain more precise control of your whip aid is, without losing contact, touch the shaft with just the lash on both sides. This allows to practice dexterity and precision without “bothering” your equine. You can also use a rein board. Position a few objects in front of you (similar to where the horse’s sides would be) and practice touching them without losing arm position or contact.
Rein: The rein contact looks ideal. A good connection with equal pressure. The angle of the rein from the horse’s rump to the drivers’ hand is at a downward angle. We will suggest corrections for this in turn-out as well as the low hand position explained above.
Horse: He looks like a perky little guy. Forward thinking and attentive to his surroundings. I do believe he is so happy in his work he is smiling! His coat is impeccable with a glorious shine. He is working well through his body with nicely matching leg angles. I would like to see a more uphill posture with this guy. The neck is nice and long with the nose slightly in front of vertical. I would love to see the poll as the highest point. This will come with more strength, engagement and training.
Turn-out: A nice country style look that matches the pony and driver well. I like how she tied the jacket/blouse and apron together with the accents on the hat. I do believe this driver has better posture than the jacket is allowing to show. The front on the jacket is tending to gape open in a sitting position. An easy tip- Pick driving jackets that button up to the chest line or higher. This easily corrects this issue. You don’t want your attire taking away from good posture and all that hard work you have put into your position! The cart looks a bit short for this pony. You can see the shafts are angled downward from tip to the body of the carriage.
The dash is also a tad low. I do think this issue has a small part in the reins being angled downward as well. A possible fix would be putting a larger size wheel on this cart. This issue may take away from the aesthetics of the turn-out BUT not necessarily the function and safety. It is subtle. I love to see a whip long enough for the lash to reach in front of the saddle. This one looks a bit short but could be the angle of the photo. The harness looks taken care of, clean and well adjusted. You can see on the breast collar she may be on the last hole (or close to it).
A good rule of thumb is to keep your hole adjustments even from one side of the horse to the other and avoid the first or last hole on your settings. You can see the excess of the strap is hanging past the breast collar, although this is perfectly safe it is a bit distracting to the eye. In your turnout the main focal point should always be the horse (in my opinion) You want to do your best to not have equipment be a distraction from the animal’s performance. These two look game and ready to get back out into the ring!