Peggy Cummings is the founder of Connected Riding®.
She is a transformer: a conductor of information that changes how people ride, how they feel in their bodies, and how they perceive their horses and life in general. And she is an innovator: a creator of exercises designed to help horse and human dance together.
She has no doubt that promoting freedom of movement and reciprocity through elastic connection between horse and rider creates the magic of being ‘in sync’. It’s the memory so many people have of being on a horse as a child. With her Connected Riding®, Peggy Cummings has found a way of helping anyone recapture that feeling.
Always hungry for knowledge
Peggy Cummings grew up in San Salvador. Her mother was an American ambassador and her father an Englishman. When he would go to play cricket on Sundays, she would ride with friends, visiting plantations, exploring coconut groves and cotton fields, or splashing along the ocean beach. Life was idyllic.
At the age of 14 she went to boarding school in the United States. This school she had selected for herself because of the well-established riding program under the tutelage of an ex-Cavalry officer, ‘Skipper’ Bartlett.
Her transition to more formal schooling was a difficult one at first, but with perseverance she won the confidence of her riding instructor. He eventually invited Peggy to work with him at his summer riding school.
During her college years she started first as an assistant teacher in the summer riding camp. Within a year she was heading up the riding program. This job lasted 12 years.
During the camp years, Peggy married and had six children. She earned a Horsemaster’s Certificate from Potomac Horse Center and started her own training program. But when her twins were born in 1977, the challenge of juggling kids, camp and barn finally became too great. She gave up the camp and settled into teaching and holding clinics at home.
Always hungry for knowledge, Peggy invited some of the most innovative clinicians of the time to her barn in Maine. H.L.M. Van Shaik, Lendon Gray and others contributed to her riding skills. But eventually even the best trainers were unable to help Peggy progress. Frustrated and depressed, she finally had to admit that she could go no further, because of pain and discomfort.
Peggy finds her mentors
As she moved into her 40s, Peggy discovered like so many other riders, that the years of traditional riding had taken their toll on her body. Her back was in constant pain. Her legs were beginning to protest her daily riding routine. It was time to refocus her efforts. Now, instead of trying to find ways to improve her riding skills, she began looking for ways to recapture the joy and ease of riding she had known as a child.
For over 10 years, Peggy was closely mentored by Sally Swift and became, at that time, Sally’s Master Instructor, who was overseeing the training of Centered Riding instructors. Twice a year, Sally spent a week at Peggy’s home riding facility, developing Centered Riding work together. Centered Riding is one of the cornerstones of Peggy’s Connected Riding method.
Peggy became a certified TT.E.A.M. Practitioner II by attending numerous practitioner and continuing education trainings. For over 30 years, Peggy has enjoyed a close partnership with Linda Tellington-Jones and Robyn Hood and the Tellington organization. Connected Riding uses many of the Tellington methods in conjunction with Connected Groundwork. TTEAM has also integrated Connected Groundwork methods into their work with dogs. This reciprocal work has been designated as TTEAM-Connect.
Finally, Major Andres Lindgren taught her exercises to take care of issues with the horse. All three helped Peggy move in the right direction.
In the end, Peggy developed a unique riding and training method. It blended what she had learned from people with what she had learned from horses themselves. She conquered her own pain and, for the first time as an adult, rode with complete freedom – just as she had in San Salvador.
Living her purpose
Today Peggy shares what she has learned over a lifetime through a riding and training approach called Connected Riding®. Peggy teaches worldwide, all the while creating new educational materials for riders, mentoring riding instructors, and supervising the development of Connected Riding horses.
Leaving her home in Oregon for nine months out of the year, she travels across the country giving demonstrations, clinics, courses, lessons and seminars. She also holds seminars for instructors to teach them how to help their students gain an awareness of biomechanical and mental techniques that allow them to move in harmony with the horse.
It’s an all-consuming job that has taken the passion of a little girl and turned it into a mission for the grown woman. Peggy’s hope is that eventually the rigid, traditional ways of teaching riding will give way to the flowing, natural movement taught through Connected Riding®.
So at her clinics she will ask: “Who wants to learn how to dance?”. As hands raise one by one, she can’t help but smile: “All right then, let’s begin.”