In her youth, Sally took lessons from some fa­mous in­struc­tors of the day, in­clud­ing Vladimir Lit­tauer and Col. Guirey of the Boots and Sad­dles School. Decades later, af­ter she re­tired from work, she once again be­came ac­tive in the eques­trian world.

EQUUS - - Eq Conversati­ons -

keep my back straight, eyes up, heels

down and legs on. And, amid all of

that, I was told to re­lax!

Some riders are gifted “nat­u­rals”---

they don’t know how they do what they

do, but it comes eas­ily to them (and

many of them don’t understand why

the rest of us mor­tals have such trou-

ble with the skills that come nat­u­rally

to them). That’s where Sally was so

dif­fer­ent. She taught us how to get the

rider’s body to achieve those things,

how the rider’s state of mind af­fects

the body, and how both in­ter­act with

the horse. It won’t make the av­er­age

rider into Char­lotte Du­jardin or Beezie

Mad­den, but it can help riders of any

level of skill or ex­pe­ri­ence be the best

they can be.

An­other pow-

er­ful as­pect of

that first clinic

with Sally was

her pos­i­tive atti-

tude in teach­ing,

and the af­firm-

ing learn­ing

en­vi­ron­ment she

cre­ated. I had at­tended many clin­ics in

which I’d heard not only neg­a­tive com-

ments from the clin­i­cian but a cho­rus

of snarky com­ments from the specta-

tors; you have to put on your men­tal

ar­mor to ride in such a sit­u­a­tion. In

Sally’s clinic, she mod­eled a clear

and sup­port­ive teach­ing style, so that

by the first morn­ing, when some­one

got some­thing right or showed even

a small im­prove­ment, the au­di­ence

broke into spon­ta­neous ap­plause. I

wanted more of that!

Who was this re­mark­able lady and

how did she be­come one of the most

in­flu­en­tial rid­ing teach­ers in world?

Sally would tell a lit­tle of her story at

ev­ery clinic, and I still do, too, so here

it is, as she told it to me and oth­ers.

IN THE BE­GIN­NING

Sally Swift de­vel­oped what came to

be called Cen­tered Rid­ing be­cause she

had a dis­abil­ity. She had se­vere sco­lio-

sis as a young girl (pos­si­bly from an un-

di­ag­nosed case of po­lio), and if you saw

her walk­ing, you might think, “What a

crooked back that woman has.” In the

l920s, she was in dan­ger of liv­ing with a

heavy back brace and pos­si­bly a wheel-

chair. Her par­ents sent her to a pioneer-

ing phys­i­cal ther­a­pist and body­worker,

Miss Ma­bel Todd, who wrote a book

The Think­ing Body. Miss Todd taught Sally about func­tional anatomy,

called

and she in­tro­duced her to “ideoki­ne­sis,”

which means “the pic­ture you hold in

your mind moves your body.”

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