Sue Leffler

International Centered Riding® and Balimo™ Seat Clinician

About Sue

Who Sue is

Sue Leffler is a much in demand international clinician teaching both Centered Riding® and Balimo™ Seat Clinics throughout Europe and North America.


Sue was invited to the 2014 Global Dressage Forum NA in Wellington Florida February 15-16 where she presented Centered Riding for Dressage riders. 


She was also invited to join DressageMeetingOnline's group of experts. Here she is presenting Centered Riding and other webinars through this exciting new educational approach for riders.


Sue continues too hone her teaching and training skills by regularly attending clinics and workshops with top international clinicians.


Sue's Background


When Sue and her brother got a pony for Christmas in 1955 her parents  never realized that this would be that the beginning of a life-long passion! Involved in Pony Club and showing in the pony hunter/jumper ring, in 1961 she got a Thoroughbred mare and competed with her in the hunter ring as well. By the late '60's Sue discovered Dressage and was facinated by it. By then Sue was taking lessons from ex-calvary officers who had emmigrated from Europe and was exposed at a young age to classical training methods.


In 1973, Sue and her parents bought a farm outside Ottawa, built a stable and later added an indoor arena. Sue took in boarders, did some teaching, started raising Canadian Sport Horses, hosted horse shows, competed at local Dressage and Breeder Shows.


From 1971 to 1997 Sue worked as a researcher in Animal Genetics and Animal Behavior at Agriculture Canada. In 1997 Sue, opting for early retirement when the research centre closed, opened a small riding school at the farm offering Centered Riding instruction to the public. In 2003 Sue made the decision to sell the farm and that October moved to Stittsville giving her more time to ride, travel to teach clinics and do some free-lance teaching. 


In January 1985 Sue met Sally Swift, founder of Centered Riding, outside Toronto at a CADORA Ontario Coaching Conference. She was fascinated by how quickly and easily the demo riders were able to change. In the spring Swift was in London Ontario to teach the first Centered Riding Instructor Course in Canada. Sue took advantage of this opportunity and attended the course. In 1986 Sue hosted a Centered Riding Instructor Course at her farm getting more in-depth training from Swift and her Australian Apprentice Richard Weis. 


After yearly Update clinics from 1987-89, at Swift's urging, Sue began her three and half month Apprenticeship with Swift in 1990 earning her Centered Riding Senior status now called Level IV. Authorized to teach Centered Riding clinics and Instructor Courses, Sue continues to update her Centered Riding skills since Swift's death in 2010 by working with other Centered Riding Level IV Clinicians.


In the late '90's Sue participated a clinic in Maryland to work with Jill Hassler Scoop. At that time Jill was developing her Intigrated Approach to Teaching and Learning Program (IAT&L). This program was aimed at instructors and included Sport Psychology, Tai Chi, Yoga, Massage Therapy and of course riding. I joined the first course for instructors as the sole Canadian and graduated from it in 2000. 


By 2003 Jill had met Eckart Meyners, Professor of Kinesiology at the University of Lunenburg Germany. Feeling he had much to offer American riding instructors,  she brought him to the USA to give some Seat Symposiums. Sue attended his first Seat Symposium in Rhode Island in 2004 and said to him "This is the Science behind Centered Riding and is why Centered Riding principles work so well." Sue was hooked and was determined to work with Meyners when he came back in the USA. 


Easter weekend 2005 Meyners was to be in Dallas TX for a course and Sue immediately registered for the course, booked her flight and a room! Imagine her surprise when Hassler Scoop contacted her and said she and Meyners were developing an instructor program. They were inviting a few select people to be the initial core group of instructors and they wanted Sue to be one of them! 


Additional workshops were given in Colorada and Germany in 2005 to get the program up and running and Sue was at all of them. Sue was a member of the first group to graduate following the workshops in Germany in September 2005. As a graduate she is authorized to teach Balimo Seat Clinics. In 2006 Hassler Scoop asked her to join the faculty. She updated annually until the program closed in 2010. Now she updates twice a year with Meyners in Germany at the Bewegunstrainer (Movement Trainer) EM updates.


With a very busy travel and clinic schedule, Sue does not have much time at home. Her horse Woody is enjoying retirement at an excellent stable near Ottawa. In July 2012 she lost her Vizsla, Maddy. They had great fun doing Agility and even competed in a few Trials with Maddy earning her Agility Dog of Canada Title in April 2012. Maddy is very much missed but a busy travel/clinic schedule for 2015 means she will wait before getting another dog. In the meantime she dog sits for her brother and volunteers at Agility Trials when she is home.

Why Sue?

Sue's personal philosophy? 

"Riding and training must be as much fun for the horse as it is for the rider."


Sue encourages riders to be responsible for their own and their horse's training: to be proactive in the learning process.


Sue has an extensive background in the Classical training of horses and is experienced in working with a wide variety of breeds of horses as well as teaching riders of all ages, levels and disciplines.


Quickly seeing the root of the problem, she is able to effectively explain to the rider the "how" and "why" of fixing it. Sue believes that riders must also understand the reasons behind the school exercises: how, when and why they should be used, to help horses remain sound and useful well into their senior years. 


Using exercises from the Balimo program, both on and off the horse, enables the rider to be responsible for their own development. The use of Centered Riding techniques teaches the rider how to effectively influence the horse and improving the harmony between the two.


Sue is a true movement mediator with a sound background in the biomechanics of both horse and rider. She teaches students in their own learning and communication style, making it easier for them to learn new skills.


Every horse and rider in Sue's clinics makes dramatic changes during the course of her 2, 3 and 4-day clinics. More exciting though is the fact that when she sees these riders again in 6-12 months, they are even better than when she last saw them and ready to learn more!