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4.7 out of 5 stars
Centered Riding
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on February 26, 2004
My instructor recommended this book a few years ago and it has changed the way I ride and how I look at riding. I come from a hunter/jumper background but I think the ideas could apply to all types of riding. The hot horses go softer with these techniques and the quiet horses become more responsive. This book helps bring the rider's mind into the sport through exercises and diagrams that show new perspectives. Her second book is also excellent. This is one of my favorite books on riding, especially since I also practice yoga and martial arts.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on September 19, 2003
This book is fantastic. Now, it is not a "read this and you'll know how to ride" book. And that is a good thing! Afterall, if that was all it took, the world would be full of professionals! It is also NOT a book on how to train your horse. What this book is, is a great guide to improve your skills, so that you may learn to become a better rider and train your horse more easily.
For instance, most people know that they should sit a certain way and be "glued" to the seat. This book shows and explains how, through anatomy pictures and visualizations. It's kind of like Dressage meets Science meets Meditation. Everything is explained throughly and plainly.
I reccomend that all of my students buy it and read it.
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on August 1, 2002
I've read many of the reviews of "Centered Riding" and I would argue that it is a useful addition to any person's personal riding program if they want to achieve a better seat and better movement from their horses. I do not think that it is an adequate guide for learning how to ride or formulating a complete program, but it is not meant to be. Rather, it is a great addition to other resources including more detailed "how-to" books such as Jane Savoie's "Cross Training" series and one's own trainer. "Centered Riding" bridges the gap between the left-brain learning process, focused on a list of cues and movements, and the right-brain learning process, which provides the muscle memory and relaxation necessary for truly harmonious and graceful riding. I've found the book useful, but as some people have a more difficult time with visualization and much of the work must be personalized, it is best to read the book and find a trainer that can help you refine your seat and riding skills. It is immensely helpful to have someone tell you when something is "right" as part of becoming truly balanced may involve retraining your muscles, which is, at first, often uncomfortable. I have found centered riding has been a great tool to deepen my seat, relax tension, and become more aware of the horse's movement, which has drastically improved the movement of the horse in a short time and allowed me (a very type-A stressed person) to learn to relax and find a greater grace and joy in riding. I highly recommend everyone to check this concept out through the book, videos, or better yet, a trainer- it can make a big difference for a novice and refine those who are more advanced.
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on December 13, 2001
This is an excellent book if you are a beginner or intermediate level rider. I have rode with many different trainers, but none have helped me as much as this book. I bought it during the winter and read it cover to cover. Armed with this new information, I went out and started doing what the book said. At nights, I would re-read sections of it to make sure I was doing everything correctly. By the time my trainer came back out, I was riding much better. Over bigger fences, I have always tipped too far forward, therefore loosing my balance ending up on the horse's neck and causing the horse to hang. Not any more! My trainer thought I had been using a different trainer because there was such a difference in my seat and leg. The book also helped me produce better transitions because I have learned to create energy and hold it while changing from one gait to the next. I would say that this is an excellent book for anyone wanting to ride correctly. (I do the Hunters and many of the concepts where new to me. However, THEY WORK!!!) In fact, I am only writting this because I am now ordering another of these books for a lady that just bought one of my show horses and wants to learn to ride "as pretty as you do".
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on December 22, 2000
Well, I've looked at all the other reviews over and over again and can't understand why they love this book. I am a visual person and I learn through visualization and images. But you have to have good content to go with your images. Sally Swift is a really bad writer in my opinion. I've read some of the sections over and over again and they just make no sense at all. The one section on "centering" yourself especially ticks me off. It says to "point to your center" which is below your navel and in the middle of you. That's all she says about it. To point to it. From then on in the entire book she says to "go to your center", "center yourself", "breathe through your center"...what the heck is that supposed to mean??? She is just way too vague for me. But, I do think her ideas are good. I just got a new trainer who has studied Sally's ideas. In my one lesson a few weeks ago my trainer taught me one of Sally's techniques. It was simple and worked. Now a few days after that I got to that point in the book and it made NO SENSE AT ALL. Had I not been taught previously by my trainer I wouldn't have understood a word of it. I think the book is worth getting if you have the money because it may work for you. But for me it was horrible and I couldn't even finish it. I seem to be a magnet for bad books!
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on October 5, 2000
This book may not help the advanced rider who is experienced in the dressage type seat. BUT for people who are new to it from other forms of riding such as huntseat (that were taught to grip and never taught about balance)or have been struggling with the 'seat' this book will be a great help in opening the doors to new ideas.
I got this book when I was 15 and it helped me greatly make the transition from a huntseat-grip dependent seat to a relaxed balanced seat.
Someone had said riding involves muscles, and yes it does. You can not sit like a sack of potatos, but the body must learn to relax and follow the horse and get a grasp of a center of gravity. I believe the type of muslce contraction the book wants to avoid are the types that are the result of rider pain, fatigue or fear. It is foundation work to using the proper muscles in good riding. There are also 'thought' techniques to achieve a good frame of mind.
To this day I still use the breathing and vision techniques when I ride. I have kept this book on my shelf for over 14 years and have had countless new riders read it.
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on July 6, 2000
This is one of my horse's favorite books; I often work on the visualization techniques while with her. Chapters include anatomy, balance, the gaits, aids, transitions, salf-carriage, forces of energy, and collection/extension. Ms. Swift uses imagery to illustrate her points: like pretending to have a tree for your back in order to "grow" and stetch out the spinal cord. I found the frequent reminders about muscle tension and breathing to also be very beneficial. Working with a flighty mare, I sometimes forgot about the concept of breathing. By doing some of the breathing exercises in this book I learned how to "breath" my way through problems and am seeing remarkable success with calming my horse around pool heaters, chainsaws, and other scary things. I also discovered that this book is a great companion to Col. Alois Podhajsky's "The Complete Training of Horse and Rider." Ms. Swift works wonders for the rider and the colonel trains the horse. When read together the results are truly dynamic. Excellent book Ms. Swift! :)
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on February 23, 1999
This book is a must for all horse riders it is so logical. I am an endurance rider and a Natural Therapist for people and horses. I do a lot of sport therapy on horses that have problems with their rider! The rider thinks that it is the horse with the problem! Everyone rides differently depending on their body and where the aches and pains are, I know because I have a bad knee that was reconstructed 10 years ago and I find it hard to rise with my weight evenly in the stirrups, horses just put up with the problem until it hurts too much and then seem to be "disobedient" and not change leads or throw the head up, not flex one way etc. and so it goes on. If the riders take responsibility and concentrate on their balance they will have a lot less trouble with their horse. I also find that ill fitting saddles are a problem in causing pain over time they can be new and expensive saddles as well as old ones. You can find me in Australia e mail horses@tpg.com.au I am a certified practitioner of the Jack Meagher method of equine sports therapy. Jan C
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on February 23, 1999
This book is a must for all horse riders it is so logical. I am an endurance rider and a Natural Therapist for people and horses. I do a lot of sport therapy on horses that have problems with their rider! The rider thinks that it is the horse with the problem! Everyone rides differently depending on their body and where the aches and pains are, I know because I have a bad knee that was reconstructed 10 years ago and I find it hard to rise with my weight evenly in the stirrups, horses just put up with the problem until it hurts too much and then seem to be "disobedient" and not change leads or throw the head up, not flex one way etc. and so it goes on. If the riders take responsibility and concentrate on their balance they will have a lot less trouble with their horse. I also find that ill fitting saddles are a problem in causing pain over time they can be new and expensive saddles as well as old ones. You can find me in Australia e mail horses@tpg.com.au I am a certified practitioner of the Jack Meagher method of equine sports therapy. Jan C
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on March 12, 2001
This book has been in print for a considerable length of time - and for good reason. Sally Swift has a knack of generating useful mental models that help the learner rider grasp the elusive essentials. Riding is full of concepts that are difficult to convey to novices. It's rather like learning to ride a bike or swim - once you can do it you can't see what all the fuss was about.
Sally Swift's book should prove a useful adjunct to other instruction - whether had from an instructor or gained from books like those of Cherry Hill. The book, as its name implies, deals with the basics. In essence it aims to help you establish a "deep seat" and a "long leg" - the two basic requirements for more advanced instruction yet things that prove surprisingly difficult for most people to achieve.
I would rate this book a "good buy" rather than a "must buy".
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