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Sally Swift and Centered Riding

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    05-20-2011, 11:08 PM
The pub date on my copy of the book is 1985, which makes her 72 at the time.

All I can say is this: If I'm still plugging away and riding horses at 72, and have some *actual* wisdom to pass down (and do that!) I will be thrilled, and consider my life to have been an uncomplicated success!
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    05-21-2011, 12:54 AM
Originally Posted by GeminiJumper    
...How do you learn, Bsms?
Apart from doing, I like a precise description. For example, the cavalry manual says to rotate your pelvis back until you start to feel the fleshy part of the butt, then roll it forward until that feel is gone. For western riding, I've been told to do the first part, but then not roll back forward. Those are descriptions I understand.

I also prefer reasons WHY something works. I started taking lessons about a month ago, and I like being told why something works, or how it affects the horse. When I understand why, I remember. It also helps when I switch saddles from english-western or back...some things apply to both, but some vary with goal and tack. The instructor I'm getting lessons from now is good at explaining how what we do affects the horse's capability or perception, which I really like. The last lesson emphasized timing your cues so that it was physically possible for your horse to flow into the next phase, instead of just deciding you want something and cuing until the horse figures it out. I can understand how that would help calm an excitable horse, while screwing up the timing would make her more excited.
    05-21-2011, 12:56 AM
Originally Posted by serafina    
Jacket copy on my book says she was born in 1913. I don't know that she's died, but the odds are in favor of that outcome...she'd be 98 now.
She died in April 2009.
    05-21-2011, 02:50 AM
She did die recently. Her students continue to teach her methods.
When I was first learning to ride, a lot of her ideas helped me . A lot, too many to recall all of them.
I liked the idea of riding as if you had no lower leg (an amputee).
Grow up and down, like the tree.
Soft Eyes
Think of the horse coming up and under you in the halt, so you creat a place for him to come up into.
The eye in the middle of your chest, let it lead you.

All these things come back to me over and over again. It is a great book to start out with. You can add more later.

Without a horse, well, you can practice walking upright, growing up/down with your spine and feet, leading with the eye in your chest, and keep soft eyes.
All can be done while just plain walking around in everyday life.
    05-21-2011, 09:39 AM
I actually met her at a clinic back in the mid 90s, and worked with several of her students. She was a neat, neat, lady, funny and utterly unpretentious and unimpressed with her own fame. Her methods definitely have value, and the techniques helped me with my own riding and helped me help my students.

Because Centered Riding teaching is based heavily on imagery and metaphor, some of it is going to work for some people and some isn't. The images just aren't going to make sense for some people. And if your learning style is different, like bsms's, it isn't going to work for you at all. Centered Riding, like a lot of other training methods and systems, is something where you need to pick and choose what works for you and ignore the rest. It isn't necessary to "drink the kool-aid" and slavishly adhere to every exercise to get benefit from the method.

I still use Centered Riding exercises to teach following seat; I've just never found anything better. And I still recommend the book to riders who are struggling with a hollow or overarched back. If you are a rider or are teaching a rider that struggles with body awareness (doesn't realize where their lower leg is without looking) it's a huge aid in developing that awareness and some "feel."
    05-21-2011, 04:10 PM
Originally Posted by maura    
I actually met her at a clinic back in the mid 90s, and worked with several of her students. She was a neat, neat, lady, funny and utterly unpretentious and unimpressed with her own fame.
Hehe. That is definitely the vibe I get from her and her writing without ever having met her. She doesn't seem like one of those people who are like, "its my way or the highway."

Originally Posted by maura    
Because Centered Riding teaching is based heavily on imagery and metaphor, some of it is going to work for some people and some isn't. The images just aren't going to make sense for some people.
Yep! And I think her books aren't really about training. Its about, like you said, body awareness, improving it and being able to see how fixing yourself can help your horse. Especially in her second book.
    05-21-2011, 08:12 PM
I LOVED her centered riding book! My instructor uses a lot of ideas and images from her book so reading it is very informative. I had no idea there was a second but now I will so buy it! P.S She died sometime over a year ago. All I know is that I had found out that she had died last year.
    05-22-2011, 01:05 AM
My daughter takes lessons from a Centered Riding instructor who worked with Sally Swift for many years (10+) and she has learned a ton! The lessons are fun, active and very productive. I would HIGHLY recommend anyone to take Centered Riding lessons if they are available. Personally, I think any rider could benefit from a few lessons. We have also recently started with a dressage trainer and it is amazing some of the similarities between the two!
    05-22-2011, 11:16 AM
I love the second book. I took a clinic where we did most of the exercises in it. They are very eye opening in terms of body awareness. The one where you shake your limbs out is great. I did just one arm, looked in the mirror after and found the arm I shook out was a full 4" longer than the other one! Also the soft eyes exercise is great. If you bounce on a trampoline holding reins and switch from soft to hard eyes, your reins instantly start bouncing until you go back to soft eyes. I highly recommend the second book.
    05-23-2011, 11:50 AM
Its so great to see how many people enjoy her and her books! I think it'd be amazing to be able to take lessons from one of her students. I can imagine it would be so eye-opening!!

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