Executive Director

Connie Sue Ellis

With over 30 years of horsemanship experience and a background in education, along with a history of nonprofit leadership, Connie Sue joined our executive team in March 2019. A graduate of Oklahoma State University, she has made her home in Craig, Colorado for the past 11 years. Since Freedom Hooves' inception in 2012, she has served in nearly every role possible in our organization: facility owner, volunteer, committee member, advisory board, interim program director, instructor, participant, and now executive director. She and her husband make their home warm and inviting as the hosts of the facility that Freedom Hooves calls home. In her current position, her goal is to train up the next generation of leaders, always willing to step aside and allow others to live more fully in the roles they embrace.

Program Director

Talisha E. Bambrough

As a recent graduate of Utah State University, Talisha joined the Freedom Hooves executive team in April 2019. Her skills in communication and leadership, coupled with her talents with both horses and people, enable her to serve the community in Northwest Colorado in a way that provides a path to improving the mind, body, and spirit of its citizens. Her background in the equine world enhances her life goal of changing lives to bring health and harmony to individuals and families. Talisha is a PATH certified Therapeutic Riding Instructor who is continually striving to learn more so she can be more effective in her goals. Freedom Hooves soars under the helm of her leadership in our programs.

Ranch Hand Supervisor

Jesse Gifford

"I've worked as a farm/ranch hand at various times since grade school. After my honorable discharge from the united states navy in 1979, being a man excited by the temptation of parts unknown, I’ve worked my way around the Pacific Northwest, Alaska, and Colorado, finding employment in many capacities that include fire fighter, commercial salmon fishing. I’ve worked in the agricultural, timber, automotive, and oil/gas industries. I consider myself as a jack of many trades and a professional laborer. I came to Freedom Hooves in the spring of 2017 and was, very proudly, recognized as volunteer of the Year. In 2018 I was hired by FH as a supervisor for the ranch hand program and continued in that position for the 2019 season. Some of my intentions, concerning the ranch hands, are to help instill in them qualities of character built on a foundation of honesty, accountability, respect, and the importance of teamwork. My involvement and experiences with Freedom Hooves are definitely a shining star in my life."

The Board


Gar Williams

Gar has returned to the board after a short break. He brings a wealth of knowledge from the state sector including law enforcement, fire mitigation and extensive EMT training. He has taught EMT courses at CMC and CNNC and earned his degree from Penn State University in Drafting and Design Engineering.


Gail Katz

Gail brings a wealth of professional experience to the Freedom Hooves' Board of Directors with a background in nursing, education, administration along with service on non-profit boards. She raised her daughters to learn about and care for their six horses and understands how precious the relationship with a horse is, and how beautiful, to mind-body-spirit. She hopes to provide compassionate input and support of therapeutic horsemanship using her years as a horsewoman combined with the care that a nurse has, along with her love and respect for horses with at risk populations and individuals with special needs.


Tilila Gunderson

Tilila has a daughter who is completing her fifth season in the Freedom Hooves program. She can see how Freedom Hooves benefits the community and individuals, and wants to be a part of the wonderful work that they provide to both. Tilila works on the Fundraising Committee.

Board Member

Carolyn Walsh

A longtime resident of Moffat County and an accomplished horsewoman, Carolyn brings both experience and enthusiasm to our Board of Directors. She volunteers for therapy, fund raising, Tuesday Night Training, and more.

Board Member

Rene Littlehawk

Rene has called Moffat County home for many years. She grew up on horses and continues to enjoy this passion. She enjoys her music and art as well, but her horses are always first.Rene is an outdoors person and spends what little time off she has horseback riding the wilds of Moffat county.For the past many years she has been a Direct Support Professional with Horizons Specialized Services, in Craig, another of her passions.

Board Member

Additional Advisory Board Members

Wayne Davis, DVM

Joan Heinz

Meet Our Herd


Dude is a 12 year old Saddlebred gelding owned by Morning Star Equestrian Activities (Connie Sue Ellis) and shared with Freedom Hooves. Dude is a super sweet boy with lots of personality. Fun fact: Dude is one of the most ticklish horses you'll ever meet!


Libby is a 23 year old Quarter Horse mare owned by Morning Star Equestrian Activities (Connie Sue Ellis) and shared with Freedom Hooves. Libby is calm and quiet and has been a favorite horse among many young riders. Fun fact: The Ellis family has owned Libby for 14 years and she's been a part of the Freedom Hooves program for more than 10.


Jill is a 19 year old Percheron/Standardbred mare owned by Morning Star Equestrian Activities (Connie Sue Ellis) and shared with Freedom Hooves. She is a very versatile horse and is able to help many different riders. Fun fact: Jill has been our number one therapy horse for many years in a row.


Beast is a 8 year old half Belgian, half Percheron draft horse owned by Seth Christansen.


Jackson is a 19 year old Percheron/Standardbred gelding owned by Morning Star Equestrian Activities (Connie Sue Ellis) and shared with Freedom Hooves. He and Jill are half siblings and were born within weeks of each other. Fun fact: Before coming to Freedom Hooves, Jackson and Jill were a carriage pulling team.


Chance is a 4 year old gelding owned by Freedom Hooves and the newest member to the herd, joining us in March 2019. He is a friendly quarter horse that loves people.