Gincy Self Bucklin is the daughter of Margaret Cabell Self, renowned riding teacher and author of over 40 books on horses and riding, including the classics Horses, Their Selection, Care and Handling, Fun on Horseback, and The Horseman’s Encyclopedia. Gincy’s mother was the first writer to produce a book intended for readers who knew nothing at all about horses.
Mrs. Self started her public riding facility in 1929, when the Great Depression forced her to find a way to support her beloved horses. She became fascinated with teaching and especially working with children. Eventually she founded the New Canaan Mounted Troop, an organization which uses a quasi-military set-up to teach young people responsibility through their love of horses. It is still in operation more than 60 years later. Mrs. Self’s motto for her students was, “It’s never the horse, always the rider,” a principle which Gincy absorbed at an early age.
Thanks to her mother, Gincy grew up surrounded by horses and horse people, and started learning to ride before she could walk. She advanced from quiet ponies to hunters, jumpers and dressage and was showing jumpers before she graduated from high school. She has continued to ride and train throughout her life, and her experience working with hundreds of horses formed her profound understanding of what a horse needs from its rider to become a safe and reliable partner and companion.
The Instructor and Trainer
Gincy began assisting in her mother’s riding program when she was twelve, launching a career that has lasted over 60 years. Teaching first in her mother’s stable and later in stables that she managed herself, Gincy has taught with the help of instructors whom she herself trained in her methods. Her pupils have included recreational riders of all ages and levels, many of whom showed extensively in hunters, jumpers, dressage and combined training, and often became professional horsemen themselves.
While most experienced instructors devote themselves to advanced riders, Gincy has always taught beginners and intermediates as well, because of her conviction that a good foundation is essential to riding success. The instructor who teaches only advanced riders finds it easy to put the burden of execution on the rider, but the teacher of beginners has to be able to explain to the beginner how to execute every movement. This forces her to analyze each movement carefully, because she quickly finds out what doesn’t really work. Gincy’s ongoing focus on the fundamentals contributed to the development of her special teaching expertise and eventually to her revolutionary, horse-friendly approach to teaching riding, How Horses Want You to Teach.
Over the years Gincy has held, attended and participated in clinics with many world renowned trainers and clinicians, such as Sally Swift, George Morris, Jane Savoie and Nuno Oliveira. In this way she has added to her store of knowledge and kept her teaching alive and growing. She qualified as a Level II Centered Riding Instructor (currently inactive), and is certified as Level IV Instructor in Hunters, Jumpers, Hunter Seat Equitation, and Combined Training with the American Riding Instructor’s Association. She also holds certifications for Instructor of Beginner to Advanced in Dressage and in Recreational Riding.
In 1987 Gincy began writing a biweekly column on riding for the Newtown (CT) Bee, which continued for 5 years. The column served as an anchor for the Bee‘s horse page, and its popularity eventually lead to the development of a monthly local horse magazine. At the same time Gincy wrote articles for such national horse magazines as EQUUS and HORSE Illustrated.
In 2003 she published her first book, What Your Horse Wants You to Know: What Horses ‘Bad’ Behavior Means, and How to Correct It, which has become a favorite among horse lovers of all ages and disciplines. Her second book How Your Horse Wants You to Ride: Starting Out/Starting Over came out in 2004, and its continuation, ‘More How Your Horse Wants You to Ride: Advanced Basics – The Fun Begins‘ appeared in 2006. All 3 books have received 5 stars from all reviewers on the Amazon website.
Currently, Gincy contributes a regular column to Riding Instructor, the official magazine of the ARIA, as well as guest columns in other equestrian publications. She is also developing several new book projects, and working on the launch of What Your Horse Wants, Inc., a non-profit organization devoted to sharing her methods with instructors in all disciplines.