Connected Riding

Connected Riding is a method of riding taught by Peggy Cummings http://www.peggycummings.com

INSTRUCTOR PROFILE: Diane Sept Sutton

One of Peggy Cummings' original certified Connected Riding instructors, Diane has been teaching Connected Riding to gaited horse riders for more than 13 years. A warm, witty, and insightful instructor, Diane is highly acclaimed for helping riders of every experience level get the most pleasure and performance from their gaited horses - the natural way, without devices or gimmicks!

An accomplished horsewoman, Diane has been training and riding Tennessee Walking Horses since 1970. She has coached and ridden Walking Horses to several National Versatility Championships. Over the years, she has worked with many smooth-gaited breeds, including Rocky Mountain Horses, Paso Finos, Peruvian Pasos, Missouri Foxtrotters, and Icelandics.

While she is sought after for her expertise with gaited horses, Diane's experience extends to the non-gaited breeds, as well. She is currently a licensed judge through the Independent Judge's Association, and she judges many open, 4-H, and Tennessee Walker shows.

Diane's breadth of experience in the horse world allows her to incorporate a range of teaching and training modes and translate them effectively between "walk-trot" and gaited horses. While living and training in Canada for eight years, Diane helped write the competitive dressage tests for Walking Horses in Canada - the first competitive standards for gaited dressage anywhere. She also studied with Linda-Tellington Jones' sister, Robyn Hood, to learn T.T.E.A.M. training methods. Currently, Diane performs nationwide at National Centered Riding Symposiums, as well as in Connected Riding demonstrations with Peggy Cummings. Diane has even been known to give bridleless riding demonstrations at various venues.

Diane's thoughts on riding and training gaited horses:

Gaited horse owners have been told for years that shank bits, long toes, weighted shoes, cutback saddles, and action devices can "correct" a horse's gait. Diane disagrees. She takes a more natural approach, based on balance and an elastic connection between horse and rider. "Anything else is a 'quick fix,' throwing the horse into just enough imbalance that it has to do some form of a four-beat gait. It may feel smooth, but the timing, purity, and quality of movement suffer," she explains. "Both horse and rider end up stiff, sore and frustrated."

"Freeing up and allowing the natural abilities of any breed to express themselves is what Connected Riding is all about. Once we understand the mechanics of the gait we are striving for, then it's a matter of allowing our bodies, coaching our bodies, to athleticize the animal to achieve that goal. Gaited horses are bred to give us a smooth gait.

We just have to help them into self-carriage to allow that natural gait to come through."

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