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Centered Riding

4.38  ·  Rating Details  ·  937 Ratings  ·  37 Reviews
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,
Hardcover, 198 pages
Published January 15th 1985 by St. Martin's Press
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Mar 19, 2015 Pete rated it it was amazing
Shelves: horse
Centered Riding by Sally Swift is one of my very favorite books that I recommend to natural riders. There are so many well explained concepts of helping riders understand the subtle and not so subtle ways to generate the wonderful bonding between a human and a horse. It has been in my library it seems forever and is a must read for those who love horses.

I strongly recommend this especially for new owners who want to make their horse a friend and companion without fear.
Aly Stratton
Jan 06, 2016 Aly Stratton rated it it was amazing
An absolute must for anyone that considers them selves a horse-person I have read it, loaned it, lost, bought it over and again!
Persephone Abbott
Nov 30, 2011 Persephone Abbott rated it it was amazing
"Centered Riding" was recommended to me by an Alexander Teacher the first year I took up riding. As I remember I did "look through" it with interest, but was left with an impression that I hadn't really read the book since I had a hard time associating the concepts with physical movements -- having ridden so little. So I took the book up again and discovered that actually I had been using the ideas put forward these past years. What a surprise! Re-reading it was most interesting and I found that ...more
Sally Swift developed her method of riding through her own riding experience and the body consciousness she worked hard to attain in her efforts to manage her scoliosis. Her four basics (soft eyes, easy breathing, centering, and building blocks) help riders sink into their seats and stay relaxed and connected to their horses as they ride, which in turn helps their horses carry them with ease. She uses a lot of imagery to help readers visualize what they need to do (for example, “hold your reins ...more
Aug 26, 2015 Stephanie rated it it was amazing
This book is exactly what I was looking for! Having already discovered how helpful practicing yoga is, especially on lesson days, I was looking for a way to incorporate breathing and relaxation into my riding, and this is it. Already I have found that soft eyes make a huge difference in the energy required for a rising trot.. so much easier and more relaxed. Centered Riding is monumental and Sally Swift is my new hero. So stoked about this.
Cathleen Carstens
Aug 09, 2014 Cathleen Carstens rated it it was amazing
My riding has improved immeasurably since using the techniques discussed in "Centered Riding". As a result, I have developed a bond with my horse that goes beyond anything I ever imagined. If you're serious about riding well, you should study "Centered Riding".
Jacqui Lafrance
Jul 14, 2008 Jacqui Lafrance rated it really liked it
Recommended to Jacqui by: Sam and Chris
What an amazing teacher- analogies and metaphors are such strong teaching tools since they draw on the student's prior knowledge and Sally Swift uses these on every page with illustrations. Imagine you are...... suddenly the concept is conceivable and the reader can grasp what she is describing. This is the standard and classic text of dressage riding for riders who read. I am using it to help me remember what I was working with on my horse way back when- it is part of my powering up phase as I ...more
Jul 03, 2014 Whitney rated it it was amazing
This book was so insightful. Ms. Swift introduced me to entirely different way to look at my seat and my body's communication with the horse.
C.T. Griffith
Jan 21, 2016 C.T. Griffith rated it it was amazing
Love this! I've bought many second hand copies over the years and passed them on to new riders with their first horses.
Jul 11, 2016 UM-Flint rated it really liked it
Vera says, "Best self-help riding instruction book for beginners through experienced riders. A modern classic."
Jan 17, 2016 Paige rated it it was amazing
Fantastic book for beginning riders! Excellent visuals and imagery to use. Fundamental principles of dressage.
Feb 04, 2012 Natalie rated it really liked it
This book is an absolute must read for any rider, but is especially helpful to those of us who are not naturally balance or athletic. Swift's exercises have helped me to become more aware of how I use my body both in and out of the saddle. This has literally changed my way of life for the better! I am more balanced and relaxed and have used many of her centred exercises to relieve myself of stress and tension. This is a must for anyone who rides as well as those looking to understand how to use ...more
Apr 13, 2008 Lula rated it it was amazing
Sally Swift teaches what you really need to know about riding that no one quite explain. If you are working on improving your seat, and moving up to the next level as a rider, this book is a must read. No one else explains the physicality of riding with the detail and insight that Sally Swift does.

If you are learning dressage, you must read this book.

Apr 24, 2012 Kim rated it it was amazing
My best friend gave me this book knowing I am an English rider/jumper. I was in awe when I realized how much of this I NEED to be doing. I told my trainer I read the book and she said "Wow. It took a book to get that through your thick skull. I've been trying to tell you that FOREVER." I just had to laugh. So see...books can help readers and riders!!!
Sep 27, 2011 Gloria rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: People wanting to ride with their horse, not just on the horse.
Shelves: non-fiction
This is a slightly older book that has timeless wisdom. As a newbie rider, I have found it very helpful in understanding communication with the horse. Not just a how to ride book, but rather it encourages you to understand muscles and movement as well as tension. Very assuring. There is a video, too, and it is helpful as well.
Feb 18, 2014 Anna rated it it was amazing
Michael Oswald
Sep 16, 2013 Michael Oswald rated it it was amazing
Can't say enough positive things about this book. I'm nowhere near ready for half the content, but I read on to see what anecdote the author/instructor would use next to simplify an activity that is much more complicated than I ever imagined.
Feb 03, 2010 Debby rated it it was amazing
As a beginning rider, most of this book was way beyond me, but I think the first few chapters were very helpful. The main thing I learned was to be considerate of the horse and to stay centered in order to make his job easier.
Jan 02, 2014 Ciara rated it really liked it
Excellent descriptions in every way! This book really helped me picture and then apply some very diverse concepts to my riding. I really enjoyed it. My transitions absolutely improved as a result!
Heather Pundt
Dec 30, 2007 Heather Pundt rated it really liked it
A good book for any rider. I find that the exercises and visualizations are ones you can come back to for repeated review. This is one a rider can keep in their library as a reference.
Lisa Hoenig
Nov 02, 2011 Lisa Hoenig rated it really liked it
Picked up some really useful imagery from this classic riding book. I will try re-reading it in a year or so, as I'm sure it offers something to riders at every level.
Aug 25, 2015 Data rated it it was amazing
When I give classroom instruction on riding, I always recommend this book to my students. Swift gives lots of mental images and illustrations to help the rider.
Aug 09, 2008 Alleycatfan marked it as to-read
Recommends it for: anyone who loves their sister and horses.
Recommended to Alleycatfan by: Someone not cute but sexy and sophisticated.
Shelves: own
My sister bought this for me years ago when I moved to Colorado to play with horses. So I agree it is one of the best equine books ever.
Jan 12, 2011 Jessica rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: any riders or equine enthusiasts
The PERFECT riding book for any rider. Great especially for boosting confidence for both rider, horse, and trainer.
Dec 23, 2008 Ian rated it really liked it
A well written and thoughtful text that will get you thinking about what you're doing in the saddle.
Ammar Alhaddad
Dec 07, 2014 Ammar Alhaddad rated it really liked it
Simple short book for beginners. I like the fact that she starts with the basics and go from there.
Tanya Hill
Feb 12, 2008 Tanya Hill is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
A great read for anyone learning to ride or to use as a refresher for those more experienced.
Karen Jaunarajs
Jul 27, 2012 Karen Jaunarajs rated it it was amazing
Awesome! Anybody that rides should read this. Loved the visualization exercises. Really helps!
Jan 08, 2016 Melissa rated it really liked it
Very helpful and unique visualizations to assist even the most skilled horse back riders.
May 29, 2008 Donnamarie rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone taking riding lessons.
Recommended to Donnamarie by: my trainer!
Best book to read before, during and after riding lessons - especially for beginners.
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At seven years old, a scoliosis appeared which became part of her daily life and was later instrumental in her development of Centered Riding. After the diagnosis and well into her twenties, she worked with Mabel Ellsworth Todd, author of The Thinking Body. Mable Todd was Sally’s first teacher in “body awareness” and encouraged Sally to explore her new “awareness”. This early training was enhanced ...more
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“Remember, the conversation between you and your horse must never be dull or inert. It should be, “Ask, receive, give. Ask, receive, give." Ask with your body and legs; receive through your body into your hands; give primarily with the hands, but also with your body and legs, so that you can ask all over again, receive again, and give again. The give is your thanks. If you don’t give, you must ask harder the next time, and even harder after that, until you end up with a dead or resistant horse. I have heard Major Hans Wikne, coach of the Swedish dressage team and head of the Swedish National School for Instructors, say so many times, “For everything you ask from your horse, your must give back a little more. The give is more important than the take." Riding is much more than a push-me-pull-you between leg and hand.” 1 likes
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