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June 25, 2017: What Would Sally Swift Do?

Quite often, the Level Four instructors bring up Centered Riding founder Sally Swift’s name, this in the context of an insight, an anecdote, or body awareness-related insight. I had attempted to do the same. Problem is, my repeatedly doing this while around the Level Four instructors has come to feel a tad bit disingenuous. I passed by her place often in my early adult years I routinely hitchhiked from NY to NH and back again.

I appreciated what the elders had to say – this added credibility and depth to what was a high level of instruction. But I am wondering if my referencing her verbally added credibility and depth to my instruction. The same thought must have

occurred to those who followed the teaching but did not know Jesus Christ.

No doubt about it, Sally was a powerful presence in the lives of the Level Four apprentices – she shaped their thinking on many, many levels and opened career doors. And because they worked with her directly, they did not have to face some of the obstacles that have beset me.

I became very discouraged. In the end, what mattered most to the Level Fours that evaluated me was my ability to ride non-gaited dressage horses in an arena setting and instruct those riding non-gaited horses in the same. I attempted to make up for my lack by going to the east coast and doing a month-long internship in a dressage barn. I didn’t spend enough time there. And I can’t afford to make up for my supposed deficit by going back there or elsewhere.

What didn’t matter was what not visible to the Level Fours – my anatomy and physiology training, my Feldenkrais training, my Tai Chi training, and as well, the fact that I organized a total of six Centered Riding clinics here in Alaska. I was also on committees and a regional representative.

I at first felt down about what transpired last week after the clinic, that is the Level Fours telling me that they would not, at this time, write letters of recommendation for me, (these need to be included in a file which the Level II committee aye or nays).

I was, I realized, caught in a rhetorical bind. Raise any objections, talk about any self-goals, and the powers that be would say that I was end-gaining, that is attempting to move up the ladder too soon. Problem is, I am, have always been, all about process. I’ve thrived on it. For instance, my filing cabinets are filled with unpublished poems and manuscripts. Try and explain this to someone who is evaluating you.

I then realized that I was banging my head against a wall. I stopped banging it and suddenly felt better. With the absence of pain came the realization that I can still do what I want to do – which is assist distance riders in making the self-and horse-related body awareness connections while on the ground. And obstacle work is central to this.

I am, as I said before, now going to take some differing paths. I do not know yet what these paths might be. No worry, no hurry. Best to know that for now I have made the right decision.

Next: 173. 6/26/17: A Conversation with Stormy, the Goat

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