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Centered Riding would like to remember past members who have passed from our lives. If you would like to remember a departed Centered Riding friend please send a photo and a memory to Marie Westlake at the Centered Riding office to include on our website.
A Horse’s Tribute to Sally Swift
The horses of the world would like to come forth to honor our dear departed friend Sally Swift. A strong New England horsewoman, Sally lived a good life and ran a long, strong race. Her Centered Riding teaching technique has been a breakthrough worldwide, improving the lives of horses and their humans. Sally showed riders and trainers how to put their attention on themselves, before they put all of their attention on riding and training their horses.
We horses have worked for centuries for mankind. Some of us run fast, jump high, pull heavy loads, thrill the show ring crowds, herd cattle, follow the hounds, cover miles of trails, softly carry special riders, bravely patrol busy streets, and quietly listen to our humans’ hearts and dreams. Sometimes however, our riders and trainers fail to understand our cautious and alert nature, our extreme sensitivity, our strength and speed, and our great primeval concern over maintaining our balance. There are some humans who have only seen us as beasts of burden, or as pieces of sports equipment, and think only of taming us, using us, or training us to do their bidding.
Sally Swift, through Centered Riding, understood us and helped people learn to “speak horse” to us through the balanced use of their bodies, their breathing and their centers. Sally showed riders how their minds affected their bodies and how their minds and their bodies affected the horse’s body. What had so often been unclear to us horses, and sometimes even frightened us, became easy to understand as our riders began to realize that often their bodies would actually tell us the exact opposite of what their brains, their spurs and their hands expected us to do. We horses clearly understand Centered Riders.
Sally was a gifted and generous teacher who skillfully guided riders and trainers around the world in an approach to teaching and working with horses in a humane, compassionate way, while at the same time incorporating the age old classical techniques that made the lives and training of horses better. Sally’s hands, voice and her clear intent calmed, balanced and empowered horses and humans alike.
Sally Swift leaves this world a better place with the legacy of her books, teaching and exercises, and with a network of over 700 teachers of Centered Riding worldwide who offer the riders of the world techniques for working to balance and educate themselves in order to communicate and work with their horses. Thank you, Sally, from the horses of the world for making our riders and our lives better. You are a treasure and you ran an incredible race for us.
By Peggy Brown, Centered Riding Level IV Clinician, © 2009
Haven’t we all met with someone who we come in a very immediate contact with? A person that we would like to spend more time with and learn more from and about. Exactly like that was it when I met with Stephanie Hornung the first time. She was a Level II CR-colleague at the time attending an Update I gave in the south of Germany, in 2008.
Stephanie was a multi talented person. An experienced Tellington TTouch Instructor, as well as a splendid rider and horse trainer. She travelled a lot and educated herself in various fields around horses and humans during her travels. Our contact was mutual, and we started a cooperation with me coming down to Berlin almost every month giving lessons and discussing CR, horses and even life itself.
When Stephanie and her wonderful partner Ingvil (also CR-colleague) bought their farm I was invited there; and it very much became a home away from home for me. We gave over 50 clinics together, me and Stephanie. I had the privilege to mentor her through Level III. And when I came down to Germany to give a Level I Clinic I could always trust that the participants were prepared by Stephanie in exactly the same atmosphere that I have interpreted in CR myself. An air of tolerance, acceptance, including, non judgmental and professionalism. Such as I learned CR from Sally Swift, way back in 1992.
I was proud to be Stephanie’s mentor and friend. And so many off us that miss her so terribly.
We lost her to cancer very fast in the summer of 2016. Awfully too young, with so much more lovely knowledge to spread. On my note board, in the hallway of our home in Stockholm I have a picture with Stephanie’s smiling face on. And almost every morning I notice it and it makes me smile and remember her in light and joy.
Lotta Månsson-Söderström, Level IV, Sweden
Centered Riding Mourns Saundra O’Reilly
Centered Riding has lost one of her special jewels in the recent passing of Saundra O’Reilly. Saundra was a Level I Instructor who came into Centered Riding many years ago when she lived in Michigan and she carried Sally Swift’s teachings with her when she moved west, with family and horses, to California.
Saundra truly loved Centered Riding and was one of the most grounded and centered people I have ever had the pleasure to have met. She approached each day with a positive step, constantly marveling in the world around her, cherishing her wonderful family and her many friends, and treasuring her beloved horses Boo, Reno and Chagall. Saundra’s love for horses was evident in her teaching and in her great desire to experience new ideas and new exercises to share with others. A solid lifelong horsewoman, Saundra freely shared her years of knowledge and experience with her students.
Saundra clearly demonstrated her volunteer spirit for many years on behalf of Centered Riding by serving as chairwoman of the Sally Swift Scholarship Committee and, most recently, as the Regional Representative of the Southwest region. Her commitment to Centered Riding was deep and genuine and she approached new horses and new situations with a smile on her face and an eagerness to learn – I remember her at clinics where she would politely accept the horse who was difficult, or the saddle that didn’t fit her very well, and she graciously made the best of every situation and rode every horse with genuine and centered care and affection. To me, in her horsemanship, her teaching, and in how she lived her life, Saundra O’Reilly emulated the very best of Centered Riding and her kindness, warmth, and generosity will be missed.
May 7, 2018