Icelandic Horse Connection

Centered Riding

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Centered Riding, Inc. was founded by Sally Swift, author of the book, Centered Riding. Centered Riding is for anyone who wants to ride in better balance with their horse; who wants to ride without pain; who wants their horse to move freely and perform to the best of its ability. Centered Riding has been developed over the years to teach these techniques to riding instructors and students in order to unlock the potential in their horse's way of going. Finding your balance and matching it with your horse's balance and movement will enhance the horse/rider partnership Centered Riding is for all ages, riding disciplines, goals and levels. It is especially good for Icelandic Horses.

Centered Riding Clinic Report:

Overall impression, very good. Everyone left with improvements and something to keep working on, and the instructor was very patient and explaining and explaining and helping everyone. We had 5 riders total, so we split into two groups for our mounted exercises. That helped me 'cause I really like to watch how someone does something, and we got to hear her comments to the first group. She put my horse and his other crazy TB buddy, in the second group. After groundwork on the 4 basics (eyes, breathing, building blocks and centering), the riders got on and walked for a while, coming back in to tell her what they found hardest. That's where she had us focus (centering and building blocks for me -- I'm STILL tending to perch up with clenched butt pushing me onto my crotch, which was really a bummer to learn) during our ride.

She then had walkers lead the horses while the riders worked on stopping their mounts with their breathing only - no stirrups for this first part btw. I had a hard time with this one, but when I raised my arm on the in breath and held it there I found it much easier. She then had the riders close their eyes and call out what direction they were travelling in, while minding how their body felt. All of us found that we were one or two strides to tell turns, and we rocked or got pushed back away from the turn. She then had us go again, this time with the walkers calling out direction and when they would stop to see if we couldn't get more centered and move more in line. It helped.

The TB's also got to work on some turning exercises, using the body by pointing our arm in the direction of the turn, not our reins. My horse and I didn't do well, but the other TB was good. Later on, I did this exercise again without pointing, but with my arm overhead and using my legs and head to turn -- worked muuuch better, and my horse even dropped his head and went all round from behind in response to my much deeper, non-perched seat. I find when I raise that one arm, it forces me to sit back on my seat bones and feel more through my gluteous maximus (ie butt and down my back thighs). Hmmm...these dressage people may be onto something with this seat business. The real change was in the canter for me -- with that arm up, my departs remained very through and Stirling stayed round, and I sat the canter better than ever. Yup, I'm gonna be spending a whole LOTTA time riding with an arm stuck in the air now.

For working on jumping, she really focused on keeping the geometry of our position (triangles) correct and keeping the building blocks in line and the body centered. We also worked on eyes -- up and looking beyond, 'natch. When we finally jumped, it was only 18" at a trot, but with a placing pole before and after, and the second set of jumps an 18" spread (two whole rails!), I admitted to getting antsy. I refused to go first, but after watching everyone else, and trusting Stirling to go over, I trotted in. The instructor really called out helpful comments, and got me in better balance -- so much so that even though my horse drifted horribly, I really didn't notice the whole "jump" thing. By the end (a whopping 6 times over -- even in the watered sand ring, the ground was too hard to push too much), I was able to keep him straight and didn't even move when he decided it would be cool to take the placing pole on the back as a bounce. It felt solid enough that I could have taken two or three bounces like that -- VERY good for my confidence. Yup, after riding around with my arm in the air I wanna JUMP!

My horse had a couple of goofball moments, unfortunately. He spooked with me, and then spooked bigger with the instructor when she got on the help him with balancing through turns. And when we tried to mount from the off side he flipped -- odd, 'cause I can get off on that side. My only real complaint about the clinic was that when she got on a couple of the horses she did not put on a helmet -- I really don't approve of that in an instructor, esp. one who's teaching a kids' clinic.

All in all, though, a very successful day for me. I still suck, but I'm getting some good advice for how to handle it, and I faced down some fears. Now I just have to see how sore I am later!

To order the book, click here:
Centered Riding, by Sally Swift


http://www.centeredriding.org/ (Find an Instructor)








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