Dr. Elizabeth James


Co-Founder & CEO of International Liberty Horse Association

Over the past six years, Dr. Elizabeth James has tirelessly worked to bring her vision to life at the International Liberty Horse Association (ILHA), creating an organization and events that celebrate the special relationship between horses and humans. Her dedication and selflessness have been pivotal in building the ILHA from the ground up, with the sole purpose of realizing the dreams, aspirations, and opportunities of others. Elizabeth has united individuals passionate about Liberty horsemanship, establishing it as a recognized discipline more so than anyone else in recent years.

The ILHA provides a platform for equestrians of all levels, from amateurs to professionals, and across all age groups, from youth to seniors. According to her husband, Dan James, “The ILHA allows horsemen and women to showcase and celebrate a unique type of horsemanship. It’s not only the people who have greatly benefited from what Elizabeth has created, but also, and most importantly, the horses. The ILHA has given horses a voice of connection and the opportunity to build new relationships with their owners, enhance established ones, and offer hope where there seemed to be none. Through the ILHA, Elizabeth has designed classes that allow horses, who may no longer be ridden due to injury or other reasons, to regain a sense of purpose. The ILHA includes horses of all sizes, breeds, and ages, making it one of the few organizations that truly offers every horse a place and purpose.”

The community, relationships, friendships, and events that have arisen from Elizabeth’s efforts are too numerous to capture in a single nomination form. Among her most notable achievements is the launch of the first Liberty-focused podcast, “Life at Liberty,” in 2022. In 2021 and 2022, she held multiple Invitational Freestyle shows at Equine Affaire and Road to the Horse. In 2022, she organized the inaugural Liberty Festival at the Kentucky Horse Park, a sold-out event featuring over 200 competitors, Liberty discussion sessions, food vendors, product booths, an evening show, and internationally recognized clinicians like Pat Parelli, Warwick Schiller, and Dan James. The success of this event led the Kentucky Horse Park managers to invite Elizabeth to move her Liberty Festival to the Alltech Arena for 2023. The 2023 Liberty Festival attracted 1,800 attendees from 45 states and seven countries.

In just six years, Elizabeth has grown the ILHA to include over 23,000 social media followers in 48 countries and dues-paying members aged seven to eighty from 43 states and nine countries—all organically. Additionally, more than 30 breeds of horses have competed in ILHA competitions, a testament to her vision and hard work.

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