Centered Riding®

“This clinic was probably the most informative and in-depth clinic that I have ever participated in. I have found a new understanding of the relationship between my horse, my body and my riding.” – Marilee, Centered Riding clinic participant

Centered Riding was developed by the late Ms. Sally Swift. It offers an innovative way of expressing the classical principles of riding to all levels and disciplines. It is based on a knowledge of human and horse anatomy, balance, movement, and 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. It addresses rider’s posture and movement using Sally’s personal experience with the Alexander Technique. This work teaches riders how to re-educate their mind and body towards greater balance and integration. 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, comfortably and confidently.

The Four Basics of Centered Riding

  • Soft Eyes – Encourage visual and physical awareness, better peripheral vision, and improved “feel.”
  • Breathing – Using the diaphragm and breathing correctly improve posture, relaxation, and energy.
  • Balance (Building Blocks) – Aligns the rider’s body for improved balance, straightness, and ease of movement.
  • Centering – Located deep within the body, use of centering gives quiet strength, harmony and power.

The Basics are enhanced by Self-Awareness, Clear Intent for effective control, direction and use of aids, and Grounding for stability and balance. Application of these principals help solve many problems that horses and their riders face.

The Benefits of Centered Riding

Bodywork is included in Centered Riding Clinics to help participants relax into proper alignment.

Centered Riding teaches you how to help your body do what you need to do in order to ride well and allow your horse to do his job well. It’s techniques 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, creating harmony. These techniques release tension in horses and riders, reducing stress, creating confidence and making training easier. They help people cope with old injuries or chronic conditions that cause pain during or after riding. Centered Riding offers Pleasure Riders to International Competitors discover a softer, more connected, effective and enjoyable way to ride.

For more information about Centered Riding, visit:

Listen to Rick Lamb’s 1997 interview with Sally Swift, in which he talks with Sally about her life and the Centered Riding concepts.  Rick calls this his all-time favorite interview on the Horse Show.

Sally Swift with her teaching partner Herman.

Heidi’s journey with Centered Riding began in 1998. She studied directly with neighbor, friend, mentor and CR founder, the late Ms. Sally Swift. Her education was enhanced with her studying under several other Level IV CR Instructors across the globe. Heidi is currently 1 of 15 Level III Centered Riding Clinicians in the United States. Her many years studying and training in Traditional Eastern Martial Arts led her to choosing Centered Riding base her riding and teaching on. The principals blend perfectly, creating success, security, enhanced communication and enjoyment for horses and their humans.

“My hips were very stiff and by Sunday they were very relaxed. During bodywork my legs “grew” about 4 inches! It was amazing!! The breathing made a huge difference in my horse, she became very relaxed and did not notice all the “scary” things normally out to get her.” – Clinic Participant

“Your clinic provided a very special weekend for me. It was my first professional riding lesson. I learned and experienced more than I ever anticipated. Moreover, the inspiration went even further than my lesson. I strongly feel that this was felt by all that attended your clinic.” – Florence, Centered Riding Clinic Participant

Centered Riding Clinics