Centered Riding

Centered Riding – the original study of biomechanics!

I found Centered Riding when I was looking for a breakthrough in my dressage riding. I had reached a plateau and was consistently battling the same old habitual patterns in my equitation and the timing of my aids. My right hip was always stiffer than my left hip. My left hand blocked my left hip during transitions. The more I tried to force my body into doing what I wanted it to do, the stiffer and more tense I became. When I first attended an open Centered Riding clinic, we studied the anatomy of horse and rider in depth and learned creative imagery that was more effective at getting our bodies to do what we wanted them to do. An image you create in your mind has been proven to be more effective to an athlete’s performance than practice alone. I worked toward my Centered Riding Instructor certification and I am now a Level II Instructor. Centered Riding integrates a vast range of mind-body modalities to improve the rider’s equitation and maximizes my tool box when I am working with riders.

One great thing about Centered Riding is that it is a great foundation for jumping. Sally Swift’s work influenced many top hunter/jumper riders including Kim Walnes and Denny Emerson.

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Sally Swift was the founder of Centered Riding. She was diagnosed with scoliosis at age 7.  She worked with Mable Todd, author of The Thinking Body.  It was through Mable Todd that Sally became educated in body awareness and correct use of self.  Sally used these concepts to develop the Four Basics of Centered Riding, which is now taught worldwide by certified Centered Riding instructors.  Sally studied other mind-body modalities including Tai’Chi and the Alexander Technique during her life. Centered Riding incorporates the use of a variety of techniques known to improve riding. Centered Riding also encourages life long learning and the use of other disciplines to improve riding.

‘Centered Riding is a new way of expressing the classical principles of riding, using body awarness, centering, and imagery, developed by Sally Swift. Centered Riding answers the question of “how” when your instructor tells you “what” to do to communicate with your horse. Many people are caught in the trap of unconscious habit.  The way you use your body feels normal and familiar, even if you have habitual patterns which cause you to be stiff, crooked, or out of balance.  Of course, your horse feels and reacts to the way you use your body, right or wrong, which can lead to mis-communication and discomfort.  Centered Riding helps you to become more aware of your body and its potential.  You discover an inner balance, serenity, and control that allows for greater freedom, suppleness, and coordination; your horse will respond with increased balance, poise, and forward motion.  You and your horse become one, enjoying open communication and ease of movement.’               – Centered Riding, Inc.

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  • deeper, more balanced position in the saddle
  • efficient use of the aids
  • work in greater unison with the horse
  • better self control for riding movements and techniques
  • develop better understanding and physical feel for the horse
  • the horse is more willing and cooperative become more aware of your anatomy and physiology to help you identify crookedness or old habits that interfere with the horse
  • A HAPPY, COMFORTABLE HORSE!“Centered Riding is a new way of expressing the classical principles of riding.  It involves learning and discovering awareness of one’s self, of where your body is, its different parts and how they work as a unified whole.  The student discovers an inner balance, serenity and control that allows for greater freedom, suppleness, and coordination.  This immediately allows the horse to respond with increase balance, poise, and forward motion.  Horse and rider become one, enjoying the common communication and greater ease of movement. Introduction to the Alexander Technique changed nothing of what I was teaching but it solidly confirmed my work and brought more insights, subtlety and sophistication to Centered Riding. The philosophy of learning to become aware of your body as it is in movement, and as it could be, and of the need for recognition of the movement to wait (inhibition), and then to allow the intent (direction) to come through, have significantly strengthened my work.” – Sally Swift 1993  Sally published the bookCentered Riding in 1985 andCentered Riding 2: Further Exploration in 2002. She has also produced two video tapes, Centered Riding 1 and Centered Riding 2.  For her great contributions to riding, Sally received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Riding Instructor Certification program in 1997.  She was inducted into the United States Dressage Federation’s Hall of Fame in 2006. She was awarded the Equine Industry Vision Award by Pfizer Animal Health and American Horse Publications in 2008. In 2010, she was posthumously awarded the United States Equestrian Federation Pegasus Award. Her impact on the horse world will remain for many years to come. Please read more about this remarkable woman at



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