Sarah O'Neill Dressage
Although I began to ride at a young age, I did not, as is often said, find myself on a horse before I could walk. Instead, I remember the early difficulties and still strive to improve: from struggling to master the posting trot, to the "ah-ha" moment when feeling the horse's response to a correct half-halt. I consider these memories of failure and subsequent success assets in my teaching; I understand the struggles of my students as they navigate their way towards better communication with their horses.
I am a USDF Bronze and Silver medalist, earning all of my scores for my bronze medal on my mare Isobel, whom I purchased as a 4-year-old and subsequently trained and competed to fourth level.
I am a graduate of the USDF “L” program. I have trained extensively with FEI**** (C) judge Sarah Geikie and 2008 World Cup competitor Jane Hannigan, and currently enjoy training under USDF Bronze, Silver and Gold medalist Kim Litwinczak.
I believe that correct training should not only improve a horse’s natural gaits, but should also empower the rider to become a partner with and leader of the horse, and to help both horse and rider to become more confident in their work together.
My instruction and training is based in the classical principles of dressage, as well as a modern understanding of the biomechanics of horse and rider. I believe that a harmonious and productive relationship between us and our horses begins with an understanding of the nature of the horse: how they perceive and react to the world (and us) as prey, as well as the structure of the horse: how we may strengthen (or harm) their natural movement and balance through our riding.
My passion, aside from horses, is teaching. Before deciding to teach and train full-time in 2010, I spent a decade in secondary education, with two years' time teaching at the undergraduate level while pursuing my master's degree. This time was invaluable in helping me to appreciate different learning styles; even when a student is passionate about a subject, he or she may still struggle to truly comprehend "traditional" instruction. I appreciate my students' love of this sport and the sacrifices they make for their horses. I strive to make every moment with their animals a positive learning experience.
I have a BA from Mount Holyoke College, and an MA from the University of New Hampshire