Susan Harris Personal Page

 

Hello, I'm Susan Harris!

 

I’m an international equine instructor, clinician, writer and artist. I travel throughout North America and around the world teaching Anatomy in Motion,  Horse Gaits, Balance and Movement, Centered Riding and other horsemanship clinics. I also write and illustrate horse books. When I’m not teaching or at the drawing board or computer, I enjoy riding (trail, dressage, jumping, hunter paces & foxhunting, and western), taking care of horses, reading, painting, theatre (especially Shakespeare) and folk music. 

Here's Boo, my demented white cat with a vampire complex, who annihilates mice, flies through the air after moths and pounces on my neck when I sit at the computer too long.

My family includes my mother in Tryon, NC , four brothers (Steve in Oswego, NY, Ted in Columbia, SC, Jon in Jacksonville, FL, Chuck in Landrum, SC), and my sister Robin. I also have nieces and nephews ranging from toddlers to grown up & married.  Robin is also a Centered Riding Instructor & Clinician, who teaches in Jacksonville, FL. 

My mother, Nancy Harris, is a retired artist and art teacher, and has taught "Horses and Art" workshops with me. 

Kelly Rhinehart Harris, my sister-in-law, is also a creative photographer (she took many of my professional photos).

I live in an old carriage barn, with an apartment and several stalls, so my horses are my roomates. I can run out and feed in my bathrobe!

 

I've recently been restoring the carriage barn where I've lived for 30 years.

5-H Acres School of Horsemanship  1970-1979

 

I was the Director and Head Instructor of 5-H Acres School of Horsemanship in Cortland, NY from l970-79.  5-H Acres was a 2 year private trade school for riding instructors and trainers, founded by Capt. Sam. Hendrickson, one of the last graduates of the US Cavalry School at Fort Riley. Lin Sweeney (then Linda Minard) and Lorraine Day (both graduates of the Riding Instructor Course) were the other primary instructors. We also taught local lessons, the college riding program for SUCC Cortland, showed, trained & raised horses, and had a summer riding camp.

 

The 2 year Riding Instructor Course had l8 first year students and 6 to l0 Seniors each year, who lived on the farm. Our student instructors learned hunter seat, dressage, eventing, foxhunting, and western, in addition to horsemanship theory,  teaching, stable management, horse care & veterinary knowledge, conditioning, and training, and they also took college courses. To graduate, they had to ride 2nd level dressage, ride on the flat and jump 3' to 3'6" courses in the ring and across country; they also trained colts, competed in shows & eventing, and graduated with over 500 hours of practical teaching experience plus college credits. Most 5-H Acres graduates went on to manage stables, train, show, judge and/or teach riding.  Captain Hendrickson died in l973, and the school was sold in l979; it closed a year later. I really value the years I spent teaching at 5-H Acres; it was a great place to teach, learn and grow.

 

I'd love to hear from former 5-H Acres riders and teachers, particularly graduates of the Riding Instructor Course. Maybe we'll have a 5-H Acres reunion someday!

5-H Acres School of Horsemanship

Captain Hendrickson and students in drill team

Donovan, one of 5-H Acres' School Horses

Susan Harris teaching a jumping lesson

5-H Acres School of Horsemanship

Captain Hendrickson and students in drill team

Donovan, one of 5-H Acres' School Horses

Susan Harris teaching a jumping lesson

People I Know And Places I've Been

 

Sally Swift, my mentor and teacher, passed away April 2, 2009, just 2 weeks before her 96th birthday.  She is greatly missed, but as I mourn her passing, I also celebrate her life and will continue to carry on with her work in Centered Riding.

 

I apprenticed with Sally Swift in 1989, which was a wonderful learning experience and quite an adventure-- I traveled to 16 clinics in 4 months, got to ride everything from an FEI dressage horse to a mule, and missed the San Francisco earthquake by one day!  I illustrated Sally Swift's second book, Centered Riding II: Further Exploration,  and I wrote the chapter on Centered Jumping. It has been translated into several languages andis becoming as big a hit as her first book. Sally has been an inspiration to all of us --I hope I’ll be as vital as she was as I age. For more info on Sally Swift and Centered Riding, just click on her name above. 

 

Kate, Joan and Glenn Goldwyn at Strawberry Fields Farm in Cortland, NY, have been good friends and partners in teaching and horse care. They lease my horse Max and keep him fit and happy in their riding school while I'm traveling (Max loves being the center of attention, especially when the students fight over who gets to ride him!), and I enjoy trail riding on their farmland. Both Kate Goldwyn and her mother Joan  are Centered Riding Instructors, specializing in teaching hunter seat. They kindly loaned "Zippy" (her real name is "Star Spangled Banner"), a former champion Welsh hunter pony, for Visible Horse demos on the Syracuse International Horse Show and others. Joan is also a physical therapist, so she is able to help riders with stiffness, balance and body problems, and she helped me recover from a fractured knee so I can ride again.

 

 

Travels And Amazing Places

 

Vienna, Austria and the Spanish Riding School!  

 

I was a presenter at the first Centered Riding International Symposium, held at the University of Vienna, Austria in November 2011. Peggy Brown and I collaborated on a presentation on "The Effect of the Rider's Seat on the Performance of the Horse," and I also gave a presentation on Centered Riding and Centered Jumping.

 

I also taught a Centered Riding Update Clinic at Edelhof, an Agicultural School in upper Austria. Since I had a free day in Vienna, I spent it at the Spanish Riding School and walking around the old part of Vienna. I saw a formal performance of the Lippizzaner stallions, including a special demonstration of the Haute Ecole movements ridden on the curb alone, with one hand, and  the beautiful Airs Above the Ground (capriole, and a courbette with 4 leaps!) Vienna is amazingly old and beautiful, and the Viennieze wienershnitzel, pastries and coffee are temptations I couldn't resist!

 

The Centered Riding Symposium also featured presentations by Artur Kottas, former head of the Spanish Riding School,  with his students, and Eckart Meyners. A highlight of the Symposium was a dinner at the Spanish Riding School of Vienna, with a tour of the stables and a special presentation of the training of the Lippizanner stallions and the "eleves," or young riders in training. (We got to sit in the Imperial Box--I think I could feel the ghost of Queen Maria Theresa nudging me to move over!)  The stable tour was marvelous--we met the Lippizanner stallions in their home stables, each with a beautifully carved life size marble horse head above the stall. 

Spanish Riding School

At the Spanish Riding School dinner

Pages from my sketchbook at the Spanish Riding School

Japan!

 

Peggy Brown and I traveled to Japan in May, 2009, to give the first Anatomy in Motion and Centered Riding clinics in Japan. The presentations were held at a 3 day expo in the Yamanashi district, in the mountains west of Mount Fuji. We had a large and enthusiastic audience for the Visible Horse and Visible Rider, and a very successful Centered Riding Clinic, with Japanese riders on Thoroughbred ex-racehorses, warmbloods, Quarter Horses, Arabians, dressage horses, jumpers and a very nice Haflinger. We also saw a Japanese Kiso horse (the type ridden by Samurai warriors) and Peggy got to dress up in Samurai armor. 

 

We enjoyed sightseeing in Tokyo and in the beautiful Japanese countryside, and saw Shinto shrines, temples, Japanese gardens and the Seven Mountain Range. The food was wonderful, and I enjoyed visiting an art store that sells hand-made Japanese brushes, special paper and colors ground from semi-precious stones.

 

We returned to Japan to teach more clinics, and a Centered Riding Instructor Course.On our last trip, we were sponsored by the Japan Racing Association and gave presentations at the Japan Horseracing School and at the Racing Training Center at Ritto, near Kyoto.

Japan

Yashuda Garden Bridge

Temple in Tokyo

Japanese Kiso Horse

Turtles and Temples

Scandinavian Travels

 

Peggy and I have traveled to Sweden and Norway to give Centered Riding and Anatomy in Motion Clinics. In Sweden, we enjoyed seeing the lakes, fields and farms of Central Sweden, and we visited the famous Swedish Riding School at Strömsholm, with its famous cross-country course and beautiful riding halls. 

In Norway, we first taught a clinic in Narvik, in the north--the site of one of the oldest Viking churches and also the World War II German coastal gun emplacements. We then traveled down the Norgegian coast by car and ferry to Asen and Trondheim, enjoying the wild northern scenery, ancient towns and Viking gravesites. I was particularly enchanted with Norwegian folk tales of trolls and the wild countryside that looked decidedly troll-ish!

Iceland

 

Peggy Brown and I traveled to Iceland, to teach at the Icelandic National Horse School at Holar College. We drove through "the land of fire and ice,"  seeing lots of ice and snow, lava beds, geothermal hot springs, geysers, and most of all, the wonderful Icelandic horses. We saw an Icelandic horse competition on ice, on a frozen lake, and bathed in the geothermal Blue Lagoon, staying warm even in a sleet storm! Peggy learned to ride the tolt, and we gave Visible Horse & Visible Rider demos, taught Centered Riding, and were on Icelandic television. I have illustrated 4 riding manuals for The Icelandic Agricultural Collage at Holar, who hosted us; we also visited Helga Thorrodsen at Thingeyrar, the largest horse farm in Iceland. Both host tourists for riding tours in the summer.

 

For more information on riding in Iceland, please click on either of the following links:   

 

http://www.thingeyrar.is/    or     http://www.holar.is/english.htm 

Iceland

Australia

 

Peggy Brown and I have traveled to Australia twice for Equitana Asia Pacific ,  where we presented the Visible Horse and Visible Rider demos. (We've been to Australia on previous trips, and even got to shoot our Anatomy in Motion videos in Perth, Australia.)  Equitana is a remarkable show, with wonderful Australian hospitality. We saw a campdrafting competition, an excellent horse show, and great competition in dressage, reining, showjumping, and even indoor eventing, as well as many fine clinics and demos. 


We drove down from Brisbane to Sydney, taking time to explore Lamington National Park , the Waterfall Way,  the Blue Mountains and the beautiful Megalong Valley. I got to cuddle a koala, pet a python, watch thes Crocodile Hunter feed his crocs, and hang out with kangaroos, wallabies and emus. Australia is a wild and beautiful place, with incredible land, wildlife, and wonderful people.

Ireland

 

I got to live out a lifelong dream and visit Ireland, the Mecca for all horse lovers. It's a wonderful friendly country, with lovely green hills, magical ancient sites and castle ruins, warm, delightful people and great pubs, and of course, wonderful horses and ponies. Irish horses and riders are legendary jumpers, due to the many stone walls, ditches, Irish banks and bohereens throughout the countryside. I galloped an Irish hunter on the beach, visited the Irish National Stud, and drove through beautiful Connemara, finding ponies in the heather whenever the mist lifted. I taught an Open Centered Riding and Jumping Clinic at Island View Riding Stables in County Sligo; we had excellent riders from kids to professionals and even grandmothers, riding lovely Irish Draughts, Thoroughbreds, Connemaras, Irish Cobs and Tinkers. I also gave a Visible Horse Demo, using a grey Connemara pony, of course! I'm looking forward to returning to Ireland again. 

 

Switzerland

 

I have taught Centered Riding Clinics at  Stall Christa and Reitzentrum Twirrenhof, near Zurich, Switzerland, and Peggy Brown and I have given our Anatomy in Motion presentations at the Swiss BEA Expo (Swiss Agricultural Show) in Berne. There are many different types of horses in Switzerland, including sporthorses, Arabs, Irish Tinkers, Freibergers (Swiss Mountain Horses),  Haflingers, Tarpans,  ponies,  and donkeys.  Swiss, German, Italian and Irish Centered Riding teachers have participate in the clinics, riding warmbloods, Quarter Horses, Paints, Haflingers,  Friesians, and Icelandic horses.  One nice thing about teaching in Switzerland is getting to travel around and see  the beautiful Swiss countryside and the Alps. 

The Netherlands

 

I've traveled to Holland and Belgium  to teach Centered Riding Instructor Clinics, and Peggy Brown and I gave Visible Horse, Visible Rider and Centered Riding presentations at the Equistyle Event near Bruges, Belgium. I also have given Visible Horse and Centered Riding demos at The Horse Event, the largest horse expo in the Netherlands. 

 

I was lucky to visit this small but beautiful land during tulip time, when you can see huge fields of flowers in vibrant colors. The clinic was in the center of horse country, with lovely Dutch Warmblood mares and foals all around us, as well as riding schools and riders training, riding and driving through the countryside. We had excellent riders in the clinics, including good dressage and jumping riders on Dutch Warmbloods,  Friesians, Lippizaners, Andalusians, Arabians, Irish Tinkers and Fjords. There was also time for some sightseeing, including a trip through Zeeland to see traditional barns and farmhouses, dikes, windmills and polders (land reclaimed from the sea.) I also enjoyed canal boat tours through old Amsterdam and Bruges, with tree-lined canals, bridges, the flower market, great museums, and many bicycles. One of the highlights of my visit was a drive through the Arnhem forest behind a lovely Friesian. 

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