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What is Centered Riding?


Centered Riding founder Sally Swift developed the principals of Centered Riding (Breathing, Soft Eyes, Centering,
Building Blocks and later Grounding) as tools to improve the balance and effectiveness of the rider. There are
Centered Riding Instructors worldwide that can help you along the journey that Sally Swift started over 30 years ago.  Some would say she was ahead of her time.


"The ultimate goal of Centered Riding is not to be a discipline unto itself.  It must go forward in it's purest
and least complicated form so it may be integrated into all disciplines of riding."   Sally Swift

The Basics of Centered Riding

Centered Riding is an innovative way of expressing the classical principles of riding, using body awareness, centering, and imagery. Centered Riding encompasses all seats and styles of riding. It teaches a language that allows clearer communication between horse, rider, and instructor. Centered Riding was developed by Sally Swift, author of the best-selling book and videotapes, and is now taught by Centered Riding Instructors around the world.


Centered Riding is based on a knowledge of human and horse anatomy, balance, movement, and on understanding how the mind affects the body and how both affect the horse. It uses centering and grounding techniques from the oriental martial arts, along with body awareness, mental imagery and sports psychology. Through increasing body awareness, inhibiting old patterns, and replacing them with a more balanced, free, and coordinated use of self, both horse and rider can move more freely and comfortably, and develop their best performance.


The Four Basics of Centered Riding, as expressed by Sally Swift, are:


Soft Eyes - Encourage visual and physical awareness, better peripheral vision, and improved “feel.” 


Breathing - Using the diaphragm and breathing correctly for better posture, relaxation, and energy. 


Balance or Building Blocks - Aligns the riders body for improved balance, straightness, and ease of movement. 


Centering - Using the center of balance, movement and control, located deep in the body, gives quiet strength, harmony and power, as in the oriental martial arts. 


These fundamentals, along with clear intent for effective control, direction and use of aids, and grounding for stability and balance, promote freedom of movement, confidence and harmony between horse and rider, and can help in solving many problems.


What are the Benefits of Centered Riding?


Centered Riding teaches you how to help your body do what you need to do in order to ride well. Centered Riding techniques help promote suppleness, stability, and clearer aids, making riding more comfortable for both horse and rider. As you learn and experience the principles through your horse's motion and responses, you and your horse tune in to each other and work together in harmony. These techniques can increase confidence and enjoyment and release tension in horses and riders, making training easier. They also help people cope with old injuries or chronic conditions that cause pain during or after riding.


Centered Riding is used successfully by riders and instructors of all ages, interests, and levels, from pleasure riders to international competitors, and in therapeutic riding. It can be applied to any type of horse or horsemanship. Most of all, it makes riding more enjoyable for horses and riders.

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