Dr. Suzanne Ament
Professor of History, Radford Univ. VA
I first met Ana O’Brien at the Carlisle Academy in Maine on a gloomy fall day – I think the year was 2016. We were both there for a para dressage clinic. I, as a para rider who is blind, and Ana as a coach. We were matched together.
The light of Ana’s cheerful bright personality shoved away the rain and clouds and we made fast friends. I’ve seen her since at several clinics and always loved riding with her. She was my coach –or better to say I was her demo rider as she trained to be a certified para-coach doing shadow coaching.
Although we live in different states, we talk regularly about dressage, horse care, para- and more specifically blind riding.
More than any other coach, Ana understands the importance of having sound cues and has been actively working to create a system which would be useable and fair for all blind riders.
Sadly, it is a work in progress as technology doesn’t work in a small playing field like a dressage arena and the para-world doesn’t seem to think that blind riders need living letters to any large degree.
Yet, Ana, despite these challenges is always optimistic, encouraging and full of new approaches and ideas. She will help anyone who approaches her as much as she can.
We are currently working on having a blind rider zoom meeting in lieu of the planned blind rider clinic which was canceled because of the pandemic.
I don’t know how many times I have said both to myself and to Ana “I wish we lived closer to each other”.
If you are a para-rider or an able-bodied rider and want to pursue dressage, Ana is a terrific coach/ trainer and more importantly a tremendous human being who looks for the positive and the potential in everyone.
Dr. Suzanne Ament
Professor of History, Radford University Virginia