Driving Clinic Photo Critique #4 - By Suzy Stafford

Monday, April 13, 2020
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Overall: This first impression exudes confidence. Horse looks active and the driver capable.

Lower Body: As you can see the hip to knee angle level. I would like to see the hip above the knee for better center of balance for the driver. A wedge seat cushion could benefit this driver’s stability. Her knees are politely together with her feet placed firmly on the toe rail. A toe rail is a bar bolted to the floorboard of the cart. It allows you to either rest your toe on the top of it or you can hook your toe underneath for more stability. These can easily be added to most carts.

Upper body: The posture of this driver is stunning. Perfect shoulder to hip angle with her eyes and chin up. This gives a very confident look. I like how she is using her core for stability. Most cart have a back rest, but the driver should never utilize this for balance. When you lean on the back rest you unintentionally apply more pressure to the reins. I like to see air between the back rest and the driver.

A fun way to improve core strength (besides all the obvious torture moves- planks, crunches etc.) is to sit on a yoga ball while using your rein board. You can also use another person of the end of the reins, let them tug on the reins a bit (like the horse may do) and see if you can hold your balance while making corrections with the reins.

Arm: Here you see a lovely arm position, a nice soft bend in the elbow and hands over the knees. Her left hands looks a bit higher that the right but could be the angle of the photo. This is a reinsmanship A+

Rein: The connection from the hand though the rein to the bit looks consistent and even. She has the extra bit of rein in a tidy, safe position in her left hand.

Horse: This guy is in good weight with a lovely shine. He has nice reach through the shoulder with an active hock. I would like to see the hind leg angle a bit larger. This could be just the timing of the photo as the hind leg does look quite active. The neck has good length with the horse right on the vertical. I would again like to see the horse’s poll be the highest point. This gives the picture a bit of a downhill appearance. There are many different variables to properly access this issue.

Turn-out: This turnout is the first segment of a ride and drive ring class. In this class the driver wears his/her riding attire with an added lap robe. The driver looks classy with well-tailored garments. This allows her position to stand out. The turnout has great uniformity and balance. Her whip is the appropriate length. The cart looks well fit and adjusted to the horse. The shaft line in perfectly level with the ground at point of shoulder height. The braids are nice and tidy, as you can see the tail is braided as she will be riding hunt seat in the ride portion of the class.

This team surely has a bright future ahead in harness and under saddle.