She HAS a trainer and has been taking lessons. Sounds like she is working with Standardbred people and is coming out with a very nice horse, however much it is different from how we do things and what we'd like to see.
I have to admit I disagree with some things the trainer is doing, but the more you read of her posts they are making forward progress and she is working on her equipment issues. Better than some who never actually get driving as Lost Farmer would say
Grace - you already know people would like to see you in a taller carriage... The issue is cart balance and I'm hoping this little experiment will help you see what we are talking about - also works for the rest of us... Sometimes its a shock to find the cart you think was so balanced isn't really. We see a lot of front heavy vehicles around here, especially the front entry ones.
So here's a small cart balance experiment to try (and yes I know you are working on your equipment and this is not a dig at you, just an explanation). I know you said you lowered the shafts - which would help the problem - but try this to see what happens to the balance of the vehicle as was, as is, and where it should be to be in balance.
Hook up the horse, put a piece of tape around the shaft at the back of the tug loop to mark where to hold the shafts later to get a feel for what the horse is experiencing. Now find a 4-5 foot board and mark the height your shaft is sitting now. If you can also mark where it used to sit.
OK... now remove horse and working with an assistant, you can check the cart balance.
Your assistant should hold the shafts at the tug loop mark you made on the shafts and then raise the shafts to the original height pictured. Now you get in the carriage. If we are right and the carriage height/shaft height is an issue the shafts should want to tip up, possibly rather dramatically, dumping you out of the vehicle. This means that upward pressure is exerted on the girth of the horse. You'll probably also notice your seat is lower at the back than the front and you have to lean forward a little to balance. This will push weight down on the shafts (and on the saddle).
Now lower the shaft height to your new setting and you will probably feel some improvement both in your position and the pressure up or down on the horse.
Now lower the shaft again until you feel the seat is relatively flat and your assistant reports little to no pressure on the shafts. Mark this on your board so you can see what that looks like when you are out of the carriage. This is the height this carriage's shafts are supposed to be when the cart is balanced. I'm guessing its going to be a lot lower than where you currently are.
Again, no dig, just hoping to help you see what the issue is.
Edited to add... the shafts should have very little, if any upward or downward pressure on them... your assistant should be able to balance them comfortably on one finger of each hand.
Last edited by Drive NJ; Jan. 28, 2009 at 10:19 PM.