All this month we are “Remembering Sally Swift,” Trafalgar Square Books’ beloved first author and the creator of Centered Riding the book, and the now revered organization found in countries all over the world.
How did Sally Swift’s ground-breaking book Centered Riding first come into being? Caroline Robbins, publisher at TSB and Sally’s editor (she handled both Centered Riding and Centered Riding 2) shares her side of the story here, for the first time in a long time:
“Both my husband, Ted, and I were taking lessons from Sally here at the farm,” Caroline remembers (TSB’s editorial offices are located on the Robbins’ farm in North Pomfret, Vermont—you can read more about it here). “Ted, was a very beginning rider in his late thirties, and as a physician, he had a tendency to ask anatomical questions related to what his body was actually doing in the saddle.
“Ted’s questions led to many a discussion over meals on our back porch—and Sally’s portable ‘skeleton’ (he stars in both her books and DVDs) usually joined us. As we both pressed her for information, the effort eventually led to the revelation that Sally had something about all this ‘written down.’ Needless to say I asked to see it, and a very, very rough manuscript duly was handed over.
“You might think was the end of the story—that the original manuscript was in the hands of a publisher and ‘voila,’ a bestseller was born. But that wasn’t the case, as Sally’s work—her theories, ideas, and visualization techniques—was very much ‘in progress.’ She gave me many additions of various sorts, all scribbled on the backs of envelopes, napkins, or anything she’d had on hand while she was being driven around Vermont or flying somewhere. And of course, all this happened, in the ‘early days’—we still used typewriters, not word processors, so organizing the resulting mass of material was a bear!
“As our riding lessons went on, many questions continued to be asked, and much new material was generated and the book began to take real shape—this was a process that lasted many years. Eventually, we all came to the conclusion that the material was ready for viewing, and nervously, I decided to print a very limited number of books—about 3,000 I think (at the time TSB was a book distributor and not an actual publisher, so this was a real jump into uncharted waters for me).
“And well, the rest is history. Sally’s enthusiasm was completely infectious and there was no way anybody could ignore it. We got swept up on the Centered Riding train—in a very big way, as it turned out.“
When Caroline says “a very big way,” she is referencing the fact that since that initial run of 3,000 copies or so, Centered Riding has sold more than 800,000 copies worldwide, and Trafalgar Square Books (formerly Trafalgar Square Publishing) has published more than 350 books and DVDs. Certainly, we can say that Sally Swift started her own legacy, but in a very significant way, she was the start of Trafalgar Square’s, as well.