Most horse enthusiasts have heard of Centered Riding® and Sally Swift. This method of teaching riding uses many techniques of body awareness to help riders develop more understanding of typical movement patterns and how they can help or interfere with the horse's movement.

CENTERED RIDING® has been developing over the years to teach these techniques to riding instructors and students in order to unlock the potential in their horse's way of going. There are now several levels of certification available to instructors who are trained in Centered Riding®. Maine is fortunate to have top level instruction available, not only for students who wish to improve their own riding, but also to instructors who wish to learn these techniques to add to their own particular teaching methods.

JUDY CROSS-STREHLKE of Dover-Foxcroft, Maine has been studying with Sally Swift since 1980. Judy is currently a Level IV Centered Riding® instructor and Clinician. There are only twelve Level IV Senior/Advanced instructors of this discipline in the U.S. In addition to teaching Centered Riding® since 1980, Judy completed -10 days of assisting Advanced Instructors as well as undertaking an additional study of body awareness, such as Tai Chi, Alexander Method of Body Control, Movement therapy.

At NORTHERN MAINE RIDING ADVENTURES in Dover-Foxcroft, Judy uses Centered Riding® to teach her students who compete in Dressage and Combined Training as well as work with adolescents with emotional and behavioral disorders. Judy is the Coach of the University of Maine's Equestrian Team,which competes in Hunt Seat in The Intercollegiate Horse Show Association. Judy also teaches instructors of special needs populations. The use of hands on body work and ground exercises develop an understanding between the instructor and student in a non-threatening environment. Unlocking a body helps unlock emotions which very often are the cause of problems in riding as well as daily life.

CENTERED RIDING® is a way of expressing the classical principles of riding, using body awareness, centering, and imagery, developed by Sally Swift. Started over 30 years ago, this method answers the question of "how" when your instructor tells you "what" to do when riding your horse. It can give you a new perspective on riding and other aspects of your life.

JUDY CROSS-STREHLKE has been teaching and following the discipline of Centered Riding® Since 1980 when Sally Swift first started teaching in Maine. Judy has had the good fortune to have been trained by Sally Swift extensively over the last 20 years and is currently certified as a Level IV Instructor and clinician.


CENTERED RIDING® helps you become more aware of your body and it's potential. Many people are caught in the trap of unconscious habit. The way you use your body feels normal and familiar, even if you have habitual patterns which cause you to be stiff, crooked, or out of balance. Your horse feels and reacts to the way you use your body, right or wrong, which can lead to confusion and discomfort. Centered Riding® techniques help you discover an inner balance, serenity, and control that allows for greater freedom, suppleness, and coordination; your horse will respond with increased balance, poise, and forward motion.


SOFT EYES allow a greater field of vision, more awareness of your own and your horse's body, less tension, and easier, freer forward movement.

PROPER BREATHING reduces tension and fatigue, lowers your center of gravity, engages your deep inner muscles, and helps your horse become quieter and more responsive.

CENTERING takes you to your center of control and energy, deep in the lower body, making your seat stable and secure. Centering techniques can help you achieve the quiet power and clear intent which characterize the oriental martial arts.

BALANCE OR BUILDING BLOCKS aligns your body and gives you true and consistent balance over your horse's center of gravity, allowing you to stay secure while following his movements smoothly and comfortably.

GROUNDING results in better balance, security, and stability, through increased awareness of your connection to your horse and the ground through your seat bones and feet.

CLEAR INTENT allows riders to direct their intention to the horse through positive thoughts and strong energy.


CENTERED RIDING® USES MOUNTED LESSONS AND UNMOUNTEDEXERCISES "GROUNDWORK" to teach you about anatomy and function, or how the human body works and interfaces with the horse's movement and balance. Techniques from the Alexander Technique, Tai Chi, and other disciplines help educate the mind and body toward greater balance and integration, with special emphasis on posture and movement. Reading the book,Centered Riding®, and/or viewing the Centered Riding® videotapes is a good introduction to the concepts. However, lessons or a clinic from a qualified Centered Riding® instructor are the best way to experience Centered Riding® and apply it to your own riding needs.



Centered Riding® helps riders reach their own and their horses' best potential by removing fear, pressure, and unnecessary tension. Centered Riding® techniques are used by riders, trainers, and instructors of all levels, from pleasure riders to Olympic competitors. Centered Riding® is used extensively in therapeutic riding, and has helped many riders cope with old injuries or chronic physical conditions.


CENTERED RIDING® WAS DEVELOPED BY SALLY SWIFT author of the best-selling book and videotapes. Today it is taught by Centered Riding® instructors around the world. Instructors become qualified by completing a Centered Riding® Instructor Course, and may advance through four levels. Periodic updating is required. You can find Centered Riding® Instructors, clinics and information at the Centered Riding® website at

(The name "Centered Riding®" is trademarked and only qualified Centered Riding® Instructors may teach Centered Riding® lessons and clinics.)

CENTERED RIDING®, INC. is a non-profit educational organization established to teach and promote Centered Riding, train Centered Riding® instructors, and carry on Sally Swift's ideals and work. Centered Riding®, Inc. publishes Centered Riding® News, Centered Riding® eBulletin, a Clinic Schedule and a Centered Riding® Instructor Directory and holds an Annual Educational Symposium. Membership is open to riders and friends of Centered Riding®, business members and Centered Riding® Instructors.

For more information, please visit the Centered Riding® website at or contact CENTERED RIDING®, INC., PO Box 157, Perkiomenville, PA 18074.

For More Information Please Click Below:

Judys' Interactive Book

Various international photos of Judy teaching.  To view photos:    click here

Biography of Judy

Judy Cross has been teaching riding for over thirty years. Her early training was in Western and trail riding. She was introduced to Dressage and Combined Training thru Pony Club in Maine as a teenager. During college in Equine Science, she started competing in Combined Training Events. As a young professional rider and instructor, she was coached by members of the US Olympic Three Day Team. She continued to compete herself and coach young riders for over 25 years.

In 1979 after riding and teaching professionally, Judy returned to Maine for surgery to correct congenital bone defects in her feet. As she was returning to riding, she had the opportunity to take a clinic with well known author and instructor Sally Swift. This was a life changing experience for Judy and she began to pursue the Centered Riding path by studying extensively with Sally. She became an Advanced level IV instructor in 1999, one of only 17 in the US and Europe. Judy's own struggle with chronic back pain and incorrect habitual posture gives her a unique perspective in helping others over come physical challenges that prevent them from achieving their riding goals.

This path led her to Therapeutic Riding. In 1980 she started one of the first Therapeutic Riding Programs in Maine after attending the Cheff Center. She became a NARHA member in 1984 and is currently the co-chair for the State of Maine. She is an EFMHA member and offers Adventure Based Learning programs out of her facility in Dover-Foxcroft, Maine. She and her husband Bob Strehlke run an active boarding stable, offer wilderness trail rides, and teach children with learning disabilities and mental health challenges. Judy's special interest is on children on the autism spectrum.

The personal growth workshops for women at Northern Maine Riding Adventures incorporates a synergistic new form that blends riding with reflective round pen work assisted by a therapist. This unique combination releases the power of the Mind/Body connection to access emotional and physical issues using much of the Epona methods. She incorporates Brain Gym and Centered Riding body work in all her lessons.

Judy's studies on the bio mechanics of riding and habitual holding patterns in the body include Ti Chi, Alexander Techniques, Neuro pathway work through Feldenkris and TEAM, Centered Riding and Brain Gym. She is an advanced NARHA instructor and an Advanced Level IV Centered Riding Clinician. She currently teaches Centered Riding to instructors throughout the US and Europe and Integrated Riding Techniques the physio- therapists all over Europe and The US.

Centered Riding®

Centered Riding® is a method of riding that can improve the balance and Relaxation of every rider regardless of what discipline they ride. This method has been taught to western, to saddle seat, for dressage and combined training, for hunters, and for the disabled and for jumping.

Judith Cross-Strehlke has been teaching and following the discipline of "Centered Riding® Since 1980 when Sally Swift first started teaching in Maine. Judy has had the good fortune to have been trained by Sally Swift extensively over the last 20 years and is currently certified as a Level IV Instructor and clinician.

For more information about Centered Riding®, click here .

Integrated Riding™

Integrated Riding™ is a unique blend of Movement Based Learning activities used to increase the neruo sensory reactions in the Brain to facilitate whatever learning activity is taking place. This innovative use of Brain Gym, Centered Riding, and Balimo activities, based on the work of Eckhart Meyners, includes exercises on the ground and on the horse. This combination enhances whole brain activity to combine kinetic learning, necessary for improved riding skills, with cognitive learning, necessary for technical skills.

Habitual posturing and movement creates one set of overdeveloped nerve pathways. This interferes with the body's ability to learn a new movement because of the impact habituation has on the brain's ability to send information to the muscles through the different nerve pathways.

By using a combination of specific types of exercises in a riding lesson, the emotional centers in the brain are blended with the body to access the whole Brain This allows a blend of improved physical and cognitive learning. Emotional stress whether through trauma or abuse, creates a blockage in the body's ability to balance physically. Hands on contact, combined with relaxation techniques, helps the body release these holding patterns which in turn opens up the body's ability to learn.

Actively moving the body in a new way retrains the nervous system to improve balance and movement.Certain exercises and types of touch help to stimulate areas of the brain responsible for our survival responses and our emotional reactions to situations. When we move a certain way, we enhance our ability to balance what our body feels with what our senses tell us. When we blend riding and handling horses with certain exercises, we provide physical stimulation that increases Neruo pathway development.

These easy to do exercises enhance the ability to learn to process information and respond to the world around us in a positive and effective way.A 6 point program taken from the Balimo System helps to develop the neural connections in the brain which are essential for riding. The exercises are appropriate for all ages and levels of learning.Targeting 6 specific areas of the body through certain exercises help reduce stress and retrain the brain for greater integration of balance and movement. Riders of all abilities are able to reduce stiffness, develop greater balance, and increase tone and flexibility.

For more information about Integrated Riding™, click here .

Journey into the horse's world

The Journey is a unique co-operation between three international instructors, each experts in their own fields.

It is a three year training program, which covers the essential elements that come together with working with horses.

Piet Nibbelink will guide you through the first part of the program, where you will learn about communication between horse and human.

Judy Cross-Strehlke (USA) is a level IV Centered Riding instructor and will guide you through part two, which is about body awareness and effective movement in riding.

The third and last part will be guided by Sarah Jane Clarke, a classical dressage specialist trained by the riding school in Jerez. She will teach you about training horses.

For more information about the journey, click here .