Sally Swift, Creator of “Centered Riding,” Dies at 95

15 years ago StraightArrow Comments Off on Sally Swift, Creator of “Centered Riding,” Dies at 95

BRATTLEBORO, Vt., Apr, 3–Sarah Rodman Swift known the world over as “Sally Swift,” and the creator of Centered Riding, a riding method she developed, died on April 2, 18 days from her 96th birthday.

Swift was the author of two books, Centered Riding and Centered Riding II – Further Explorations, which, together, sold more than 860,000 copies worldwide in 15 languages.

She was the founder of Centered Riding, Inc., a non-profit organization that oversees the worldwide membership of instructors and riders. Swift began Centered Riding at age 62 when she retired from the Holstein Association in Brattleboro, Vt. Her first book, Centered Riding was published in 1985.

Swift was inducted into the United States Dressage Federation’s Hall of Fame in August, 2006. In June, 2008, she was presented with the seventh annual Equine Industry Vision Award by Pfizer Animal Health and American Horse Publications in recognition of innovation, ingenuity and service across the entire equine market.

Sarah Rodman Swift was born in Hingham, Mass. At age 7, she was diagnosed with scoliosis, lateral curvature of the spine. She worked for many years with Mabel Ellsworth Todd, author of “The Thinking Body,” who believed that parts of the body could be controlled by the mind when they could not by directed with physical movement. Swift used some of the same concepts to develop the Four Basics of Centered Riding.

Swift was home schooled until seventh grade and then attended Milton Academy for seventh through 12th grades. She graduated from Cornell University in 1947 with a B.S. in agriculture. She worked for 21 years at the Holstein Association of America in Brattleboro, Vt., retiring in 1975.

On retirement, she began teaching her friends for $10 per lesson and $50 per day for a clinic. She never advertised; her teachings spread by word of mouth. She was in demand as a teacher along the East Coast of the U.S. Although more than 70 years old, in the early 1980s she traveled throughout North America and Europe. In 1988, at the age of 75, she went to Australia to work alongside Richard Weis, who was her first apprentice.

Plans for a memorial service in honor of Swift will be announced at In lieu of flowers, donations in Swift’s memory can be made to Centered Riding, Inc., P.O. Box 157, Perkiomenville, PA 18074; Windham County Humane Society, 916 W. River Road, Brattleboro, VT 05301; The Heifer International Foundation, 1015 Louisiana St., P.O. Box 727, Little Rock, AR 72203, or Amnesty International, 16th Floor, 5 Penn Plaza, New York, NY 10001