To help TSB celebrate the 30th Anniversary of our first horse book CENTERED RIDING, this month some of our top authors will share their Sally Swift memories and “aha” moments. Here, TSB author Linda Benedik (YOGA FOR EQUESTRIANS; YOGA & RIDING DVDS; LONGEING THE RIDER FOR THE PERFECT SEAT) tells us why CENTERED RIDING was so important to her riding, teaching, and writing:
“Baby birds in the hand. Barbershop pole as rotating spine. Energy directed as water through soft garden hose arms. Dropping a heavy, anchoring chain from the center. Legs so long that riding boots reach the ground. The iconic spruce tree and the growth it inspires.
“Creative images like these from Sally Swift’s CENTERED RIDING are indelibly committed to my memory, as well as the collective conscious of a new generation of riders and teachers. Easy to perceive and precisely descriptive, these visuals give shape to the mounted movements and feelings that riders experience. The concepts and images introduced in CENTERED RIDING illuminate the process of becoming a rider. They also provide effective tools for guiding both students and teachers in mutually positive directions, and demonstrate that ‘feel’ is more achievable and teachable than one may believe. In my (soft) eyes, Sally Swift has been an influential and groundbreaking equestrian educator. By integrating her own personal experiences in bodywork and practices from outside of the riding arena into her methods, she led by example and showed the horse world that, as riders and instructors, we are all bodyworkers.
“CENTERED RIDING posed introspective questions, prompting equestrians to develop the mind-body awareness essential to riding. It also provided a direction for that awareness by offering a pathway that led to a powerful grasp of the physical language of equitation. With this deeper self-knowledge, riders could more compassionately communicate with horses. Building foundation skills in any language is necessary before conversing, and through the CENTERED RIDING system, which is clear-cut, well-illustrated, imaginative, and inspiring, Sally gave riders a tangible way to become fluent in this language. Achieving fluency in personal bodywork enabled riders to then more effectively work the body of the horse, prompting horses the world over to join together in communal rejoicing!
“As a career-based teacher of rider body language, CENTERED RIDING taught me that creating an environment conducive to eliciting feel in a rider is accomplishable. As I reflect back on my long-lasting relationship with this book—an enduring work that continues to benefit horses and riders—I am reminded of how strongly Sally’s principles and images impacted my personal experiences, inspired me as a rider, trainer, and author, and paved the way for my own contributions to the universal equestrian library. To this day, CENTERED RIDING resonates and supports my perception that the rider’s body is a symphony of parts, and not only must a rider master each part—each instrument—but they must also conduct the symphony. While this may sound like a monumental task, CENTERED RIDING offers manageable steps toward developing this dexterity and provides coherent tools for connecting and conversing with horses.
“My gratitude to Sally for these teaching essentials is immeasurable, and I am honored to have the opportunity to express my appreciation during this 30th year anniversary celebration.”
Trafalgar Square Books, the leading publisher of horse books and DVDs, is a small, privately owned company based on a farm in rural Vermont.