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Eileen O'Connor


Eileen was born and raised on the North Shore of Long Island, New York.  Her affinity for horses was evident early on, and she began riding lessons lessons at five years of age.  She later began training with Frank DiMarsico at what is now Silver Oak Stable in St. James, the hallowed ground where Harry DeLeyer's great showjumper, Snowman, rests.


  With Frank's knowledge and expertise guiding her, she excelled in Equitation and learned a true appreciation for classical dressage foundations, respect and care of the horse, and proper, patient training techniques.  When it was discovered that Eileen had severe scoliosis and needed to undergo full spinal fusion surgery, she competed in shows right up until the day before she was admitted to the hospital, then counted the days of a long year before she was given the all clear to start riding again.


  After graduating from High School, Eileen moved to Houston, Texas where she met and trained with Kathy O'Connor. Working with Kathy, Eileen had the opportunity to ride a variety of horses, from fresh off the track thoroughbreds up to a Grand Prix jumper.  It was also during this time that Eileen began volunteering with a therapeutic riding facility, where she trained horses and taught therapeutic lessons to children with physical, emotional, and cognitive challenges.  After completing her degree in Applied Design and Visual Arts from the University of Houston at Clear Lake, Eileen decided to pursue teaching, going on to earn her Masters in Education from the University of St. Thomas, and leaving her job working on the International Space Station with Boeing to begin teaching at-risk high school students in South Houston.  Her Masters Thesis was "The Physical, Cognitive, and Social-Emotional Effects of Therapeutic Horseback Riding on Adolescents with Autism", and her research was collected while volunteering with SIRE, the premier therapeutic riding program in the Houston area.


  Eileen's entire riding career had been based on riding other peoples' horses for them, until she fell in love with a skeleton of a horse for sale on Craigslist and bought Tag.  Tagasaurus, as he was affectionately known, recovered from starvation, and ended up being a true once in a lifetime horse- together they adventured into a wide variety of equine sports and activities, including jumping, dressage, trail riding, obstacle competitions, cross country, beach rides, cattle sorting, fox hunting, parades, and even jousting and medieval equine sports, just to name a few.  Eileen moved Tag to a high end hunter/jumper show barn, where she was then asked to be an instructor.  Eileen's true passion is sharing the love of horses with others, and she is an expert at instructing beginner riders, as well as "re-rider" adults who are coming back to the sport, often with fear and anxiety in tow. After about a year Eileen decided to leave the show scene to start her own riding program with a focus on slow, patient training of horse and rider, as well as rescuing and rehabilitating horses, some which went on to be lesson horses in her program.  


  When the opportunity to move from Houston to Elgin arose, Eileen made the difficult decision to leave both the school district where she had taught for over 13 years and the students and families who rode in her program- though she still keeps in touch and is visited by many at the new farm! A hiatus from both traditional and therapeutic riding instruction was needed in order to focus on getting the new farm in order, and getting up to speed at her new job as the coordinator of after school programming at an elementary school.  The draw towards sharing horses with others in a therapeutic capacity was still strong, and during this time Eileen earned her certification from PATH International as an Equine Specialist in Mental Health and Learning, earning the highest score in the horsemanship skills test.  Equine Assisted Mental Health and Learning is a facet of horsemanship that will be offered both at the farm and off site in the near future.  


  Having worked with and accepted equines from Animal Control, other local rescues, breed association groups, and individuals, the Browndog Farm is now at capacity with animals that have been rehabilitated and many are ready to start their new careers as lesson horses in the farm's animal assisted activities and riding program.  


The farm, and helping the animals who can then help people, is truly a lifelong dream come true for Eileen, and we are all excited to see what the future has in store for Browndog Farm


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