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        Student off an on for 30 years

I was one of those kids who started on trails at the local western stable where you learned to ride by watching cowboys on television. Staying on the horse while he galloped for the barn was both a thrill and a sign that meant “yes you could really ride a horse”.

In my twenties I went back to riding, but this time it was hunter jumper. This time it was all heels down, counting strides, poles, fences water jumps, different bridles etc. On a good day you didn’t have to do that boring flat work. Staying on that high strung Thoroughbred while he galloped, bucked and occasionally dumped you in a corner was both a thrill and a sign that said “yes now you really can ride a horse” One day there was a mishap. The stirrup leather came loose and the horse went over the fence and I went under it. This one really hurt but I got back on, galloped around and finished up.

This injury put me out of commission, but I was determined to get back on a horse. Some one gave me a book called Centered Riding to read while I was grounded. Another friend told me about The Alexander Technique a Nobel Prize winning physical therapy that was a significant part in the development of Centered Riding. Hmmm . . . physical therapy and horses! That sounded pretty good! I found the phone number of Cindi Leisure, She asked me about my riding skills, what I had been doing in lessons, what my goals were and later suggested I come and experience something very different!

What I soon discovered was that I had been riding all those years based upon my own athleticism-not based upon how to really engage with the horse, somewhat like surviving on the horse verses riding. Well I never had a lesson where I wasn’t galloping around Wow…sounds like I really didn’t know how to correctly ride after all. We spent a lot of time working on the lunge line, developing an independent seat, balance, security, body mechanics, getting rid of my hollow back and stiffened arms.

And guess what… I was more secure, more confident, had a good seat and balance, I very rarely fell off when I continued jumping. Unlike my jumper friends I could jump without stirrups and canter without them. And on that boring flat work I was the one who able to get her horse into a soft working frame, puffed up and stepping out. Cindi gave me the gift of appreciating when horse and rider when they can work together as a team. She gave me the balance to be a better and safer rider. I fell in love with the beauty and sense of accomplishment when things began clicking. Yes, now I really can ride a horse!

Michel Fox

        Student for 1 year

Cindi patiently teaches every detail of Centered Riding and Connected Riding. She is encouraging and understands well the cycles of learning.

Lessons with her have helped me to become more aware of the importance of detail and that small imperceptible changes in my position can make a world of difference in the learning of classical riding.

Her knowledge of the Alexander Technique has helped me ride more comfortably and softly, through correct alignment, tension releasing and balance.

Cindi is very perceptive to any tension in my body and can suggest innumerable ways of releasing it. She answers my every question thoughtfully and fully and does not mind repeating information until a concept is fully clear.

She understands that each student has different learning styles and always finds a way to explain or demonstrate techniques in a way that are comprehensible.

Thank-you Cindi, for the through sharing of your knowledge and your sense of humor!

Debbie Tong



        Student for 3 years    

When Cindi initially asked me why I wanted to take horsemanship and riding lessons, I told her that my goals centered around learning how to handle and ride a horse correctly and that I wanted to be able to control and communicate with the horse using my body with the correct aids so that the horse and I would both be safe, comfortable and enjoy our time together.

Cindi continues to excel in helping me accomplish all of my goals and to develop even skills within myself that I never knew existed!

Cindi is truly a dedicated professional. Her background and training are of the highest caliber. Cindi emphasis the importance of safety and she personally trains and oversees her school horses which is an added benefit.

Cindi is an excellent instructor who gives clear verbal instructions, as well as creative visual images and hands on demonstrations.

Some of the important principles to which she has introduced me to are Ground, Center and Grow. This is the way to bring about a real and very dynamic balance to the rider which influences the horse to reciprocate.

Cindi has always been very patient, kind, exacting and eager to share and give me answers to my questions.

Finding and working with her has been a true blessing in my life!

Patricia Eaton

        Student for 2 years

Although I had ridden and taken lessons with different instructors for several years, once I began lessons with Cindi, I quickly realized how little I had previously learned about riding!

Her teaching method corresponds to my philosophy as an educator – if a student is not understanding and able to apply the teacher’s instructions, then the teacher needs to find another way to explain it. Cindi is a master at this.

In her infinite patience, she has helped me become a balanced rider who can now generally feel how the horse is moving so I am able to ride in a way that is in tune with the horse.

Now, I truly understand what ‘Ground, Center, Grow’ means, and its importance to both the horse and rider. I knew that I needed to use my body to signal what I wanted to the horse, but had never learned how to do it.

Cindi uses clear visual images to help me understand what I need to do; this is useful to me because I am a visual learner. She finds ways to explain what works best with the student’s method of learning. If I do not ‘connect’ with an image, she continues until she finds one that works for me. Throughout my lessons Cindi strives to help me understand how the particular exercise we are working on affects the horse, what the horse’s body is doing, or should be doing, and why it is relevant. Her questions help me consolidate my knowledge which allows me to think about and figure out why my actions as a rider help or hinder the horse to stay balanced and moving freely.

Cindi has both the knowledge and the instructional skills to help me learn what others could not.

Pam Gordon

        Student for 2 years    

What Riding Lessons Mean To Me

By Kim McCourt, Marriage & Family Therapist

Dressage is teaching me who and what I really am; not what I think I am. In my lessons, I often think “I can’t do that”. But with the patient and practiced eye of Cindi, I am guided in gentle steps towards success at something I had no idea that I could accomplish. I have had many teachers in my lifetime, and Cindi is on the short list. She is kind, clear, visioned, patient, precise, talented, consistent and strong. She is interested in making riding a healthy event for my body, which she does with her Alexander skills as well as her many horsemanship skills. Her soft voice asking me to try an exercise and giving me beautiful metaphors for my mind to hold for that exercise are precious and invite me to think that I can maybe do that.

I have had an oppositional relationship with impeccability, thinking that I was incapable of doing anything with impeccability. I have learned that aiming towards high skill is different than expecting perfection without the preliminary steps. Cindi takes me on a riding journey towards high skill step by step. Then, sort of magically to me, I am able to do something that weeks prior, I had said to her “You want me to do that!? You must be kidding!” And she would kindly, softly and firmly say. “No, I’m not kidding.” In this way she has entrusted in me great respect for what she is asking me to do. If she says that I am capable, I believe her because she has shown me over and over that I am much more capable than I think I am. I see in her eyes that she sees something in me that I cannot yet see. So I try and practice with desire to improve and aim towards perhaps impeccability.

Fear of horses combined with a deep love and desire to be near horses is why I began riding. I wanted to face my fear of these amazing creatures. Every lesson I face my fears. There is always something to surprise me and some “problem” to solve, as it is all so new. Practicing being calm while not knowing is challenging and also deeply rewarding. My curiosity and accurate assessment that Cindi is trustworthy are two of the inner tools that help me face my fears at every lesson. She is consistently kind in her repetition of the instruction or the naming of the item, that she just told me for the last three months at every lesson. Wow.

Gratitude is deep for the attitudes that Cindi brings to her skills as an Instructor.

Kim McCourt


        Student for 11 years      

As a 50 plus year old woman with various physical limitations, Cindi Leisure's Centered Riding and Connected Riding lessons have allowed me to safely and confidently pursue my riding dreams. Cindi is quite a skilled and responsible teacher who cares very much for her students.

Her teaching methods incorporate all of the senses. She uses vivid images, hands-on demonstrations and body work as well as body awareness corrections to create a wholeness between the horse and rider.

Cindi, through constant questions and interaction, has the rider think about what is happening with her body in relation to what the horse is doing and his movement. She trains the rider for future independence, by developing regular techniques of self-assessment.

Centered Riding is very kind to the body. This method has allowed me to continue riding much longer than I thought was possible, it has now been 9 years! It has also been very kind to my partner, the horse.
Then there are those magical moments, when my partner and I dance as one.

Cindi's lessons are very informative, hard work, packed with Centered Riding techniques, Connected Riding, ground work and loaded with opportunities for self-growth, and best of all just plain fun!

Geri Henry



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