Susan E. Harris, Renowned Centered Riding® Teacher, Has Died

March 9, 2021, Bloomfield, CT – Centered Riding® Inc. is deeply saddened to share news of the death of Susan E. Harris, a well-known Centered Riding instructor. After a brief illness, Susan passed away on March 8, 2021, in hospice care in Ithaca, New York.

“The passing of Susan Harris is a great loss to the Centered Riding community and beyond – a loss that is made all the more painful simply because Susan was such a kind and amazing person in so many ways,” said Peggy Brown, President of the Centered Riding Board of Trustees, and a Level IV Clinician. “In 1989, when Sally Swift chose Susan as an apprentice, she certainly chose well. Susan’s dedication to Centered Riding, and to the well-being of horses and riders everywhere, was boundless. A friend and mentor to many, Susan will be deeply missed.”

Susan earned widespread, deep respect as a Centered Riding teacher, mentor, volunteer, and humanitarian. She was a renowned international instructor, clinician, author and artist/illustrator. Susan played a major role in helping to develop what is now a global community of close to 1,000 Centered Riding instructors – many of whom she taught and mentored personally.

Susan was selflessly dedicated to Centered Riding. As a volunteer with the organization, she served in many roles over the years. At the time of her passing, Susan was a Senior Level IV Clinician, Secretary of the Centered Riding Board of Trustees, Editor of Centered Riding News, and member of the Level IV Advisory Committee.

Susan has received many awards and honors. In 2004, the American Riding Instructor Association honored Susan as a Master Instructor. In 2020, Susan was awarded a lifetime membership in Centered Riding, in recognition of her tremendous contributions to the organization.

In 1989, Susan apprenticed with Centered Riding founder Sally Swift (1913-2009). Susan was a tireless, compassionate and gifted Centered Riding teacher, mentor and promoter. She maintained a rigorous schedule that involved riding- and horse-focused activities in her home state of New York, and across North America and the world.

For example, starting in 2009, the trailblazing team of Susan and Peggy Brown introduced Centered Riding to Japan, where there are now 10 Level I and Level II Centered Riding instructors actively teaching.

A prolific and skilled author and artist, Susan wrote and illustrated several equestrian books, including the ever-popular “Horse Gaits, Balance and Movement” and “Grooming to Win,” considered classics of their genre. Susan also wrote and illustrated several United States Pony Club Manuals of Horsemanship and guides to various horse-keeping skills.

Susan illustrated Sally Swift’s second book, “Centered Riding 2: Further Exploration” (Trafalgar Square Press, 2002) and she wrote the book’s chapter on Centered Jumping.

Susan also contributed her expertise and talents to many other books, including: “Horse Brain, Human Brain” by Janet Jones, Ph.D.; “Balancing Act” by Dr. Gerd Heuschmann; “The Horse’s Pain-Free Back and Saddle Fit Book” and “The Western Horse’s Pain-Free Back and Saddle Fit Book” by Dr. Joyce Harman; “The Dynamic Horse” by Dr. Hilary M. Clayton; and the art work and poster for the Breyer “Anatomy in Motion” model horse – to name just a few.

Susan was famous for her “Visible Horse” demonstrations and lectures, in which she created the “Anatomy Painted Horse.” As she painted the muscles and skeleton on a live horse, she would explain equine anatomy and function. Since 1996, and often working with Peggy Brown, as “The Visible Rider” on “The Visible Horse,” Susan painted on countless light-colored or white horses and ponies at many major equine expos and clinics in North America,  Europe, Australia, Iceland and Japan.

Susan is survived by her mother, Nancy Harris; her sister Robin; her brothers Chuck, Jon, Steve, and Ted; and several nieces and nephews.

Susan’s Centered Riding friends and colleagues mourn her passing, sharing in this sentiment: “Rest well and in peace, dear and steadfast friend.”

Susan requested that in-memoriam donations go to Centered Riding, at or:

Centered Riding® Inc.
One Regency Drive, P.O. Box 30
Bloomfield, CT 06002
Phone: 860-243-9501
Email: [email protected]
Centered Riding Inc. is a 501 c-3 non-profit organization; donations are tax deductible in the U.S.A.