Widely known for her innovative teaching philosophy stressing body awareness, the value of “soft eyes,” proper breathing, centering, and balance, Sally Swift has been a pioneering riding instructor for half a century. In book form for the first time, her methods enable horse and rider to achieve harmony, working together naturally, without pain.
Unlike traditional teachers, Sally Swift does not believe in forced training techniques that cause stiff bodies and tense riding. Instead, through the use of vivid, unusual, and highly creative images that transcend mechanics (“Pretend you’re a spruce tree; the roots grow down from your center as the trunk grows up”), plus a thorough knowledge of human and equine anatomy, this wise and inspiring teacher enables the conscientious equestrian to reassess habitual responses, in order to ride in natural positions, break through frustrating plateaus, and achieve every-rising goals with comfort, vitality, and precision.
Precise illustrations and photographs never before used in riding books explain anatomy and image work to give mind and body new and relaxed approaches to the inner process of riding.
This book is for those with little experience all the way up to world class.
(hardcover, photos, illustrations, 190 pgs.)
Excerpt from the book:
Quiet, sensitive hands are important in all aspects of riding. Your arms and hands, from he shoulder joints to the tips of the fingers and through the reins, belong to the horse. He directs the movement of your hands, and the level of his head determines the level of your hands. Your back, seat, and legs control the horse’s hindquarters, and the arms and hands control the forehand. Synchronized, they direct the energy of the entire horse.
All major motion of the horse’s head will be absorbed by your shoulders and elbows. Noted dressage trainer and author Charles deKunffy says that God created riders with the wrong conformation. A rider’s forearm should be long enough to extend from the elbow to the bit so you could hook your fingers in the bit, or better yet, over the corners of the horse’s mouth. Then you’d really have a sensitive and direct feel! You can, however, be sensitive even with the use of reins. Many small and subtle indications to the horse come solely through your fingers and hands.
Good hands are profoundly dependent on a good seat, one that is soft and deep. Unless the motion of the horse is largely absorbed by your hip joints, knees, and ankles, your shoulder will jump and your head will bob. When this is the case, the rough motion will be reflected in your unsteady hands. “No seat, no hands” is a true statement!
Sandy Mckay –
I have had this book for years and refer to it from time to time when I get “stuck”. The visuals are extremely useful and the exercises are very helpful, especially if one tends to be tense and rigid. Sally Swift’s own physical challenges were a gift that allowed her to see and feel things from the perspective of the “athletically challenged” or physically ungifted rider. So many have benefited from her teachings.
I read this book years ago, but picked it up again this year. Revisiting the word pictures and visual images has improved my riding more than I anticipated. Her creative descriptions of how the rider’s body might feel or how to think about your movement evokes a fluidity in your riding, as opposed to the stiffness that “shoulders back, heels down, etc” often creates. Highly recommend this book as a reference for equitation.
This is such a pragmatic book. Sally Swift’s communicates these important concepts in an easy to understand way. These are proven methods that make a tremendous difference for you and your horse. It’s a book to keep and refer back to regularly. Your horse will thank you.
An excellent book for help with your riding. So much information for just $40. Highly recommend this book. It’s easy to read and easy to understand and apply the knowledge. Very insightful.
Sally’s intuition is spot on and she shares what she knows to help others enjoy the thrill of being with horses. She’s such a wonderful teacher I keep her books on hand and almost daily I can find the answers I need to any situation I encounter. Her visualizations are fantastic and so dynamic to use especially while in saddle. Thank you, Sally, for all you have taught me and others who have put your words in our minds.
Sally Swift’s book is an excellent instruction manual for correct riding. It is well written and covers all aspects of proper form. Sally Swift was a great instructor and that really is coveyed in her book. I highly recommend this book to everyone who is looking to improve their ridong technique.
This has been my go to reference for fixing my riding problems for the last thirty years. This book and it’s successor, Centered Riding 2, help me to fix my rider errors (the source of nearly all horse problems). Sally Swift has an in depth understanding of both equine and human skeletal and muscular anatomy as well as an intuitive gift for describing how things feel when they are right. Her vivid imagery and detailed exercises help me find the flaws in my seat, legs, shoulders, ect as well as providing the tools to fix them. She covers every thing from simple things like finding your center of balance to adjusting how your pelvis tips for better circles and lateral work.