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Meet The Founders

The International Liberty Horse Association (ILHA) is dedicated to promoting the discipline of Liberty training and celebrating Liberty horses, trainers, and competitors everywhere.


Dan James

Dan James of Double Dan Horsemanship has spent his entire career wowing audiences, pushing the bounds of equine entertainment, competing on an international stage, and educating horsemen and women around the world. Dan first learned about liberty training from world renowned movie horse trainer, Heath Harris. From there Dan went on to train liberty horses for television, movies, photoshoots, and the elite equine entertainment show Cavalia.

Dan’s expertise at liberty training has been recognized and celebrated by industry professionals and fellow trainers alike. Dan’s own liberty team has been featured in Heartland, country music videos, a Versace ad campaign, a Vogue cover photoshoot with Jennifer Lawrence and a high fashion photoshoot for Elle magazine with Alicia Vikander. Dan and his training methods have been showcased on Australia’s Got Talent alongside partner Dan Steers and in National Geographic’s Mustang Millionaire.

Dan has always strived to push the bounds of Liberty training by incorporating it into other established competitions. In 2014, Dan was the first Mustang Million trainer to work a horse completely at Liberty in the Freestyle competition where he debuted liberty circles, a long distance laydown cue, rolling up, a rundown and stop, and bareback & bridleless riding among other things.

Dan was also the first trainer to incorporate Liberty training into Freestyle Reining Competitions and has won multiple Freestyle Reining Championships on different horses all featuring different elements of Liberty. Specifically, Dan won the 2014 Kentucky Freestyle Reining Cup with Smart Little Elan riding half of the performance bareback, bridleless, and backwards. That same year Dan also won the QH Congress Freestyle aboard Smart Little Elan where he performed the first ever Liberty spin and exhibited the first ever Liberty sliding stop with IRA Top Gunner in the same performance. In 2016 Dan incorporated additional Liberty horses to his routine to win multiple Freestyle Reining Championships with Don Magnum including the Ram Invitational Freestyle Reining. Dan again featured his Liberty training with in 2018 when he won the QH Congress Freestyle.

In 2009, Dan Steers and Dan James of Double Dan Horsemanship began sharing their love of Liberty and their specific Liberty training program at clinics in the US, Europe, Canada, and Australia. This was one of the first times the general public was able to learn the art of liberty training. Since that time, Liberty clinics have become one of the most popular types of training clinics.

Dan has spent his career studying, practicing, perfecting, exhibiting, and sharing Liberty training with others. He is proud to promote and grow the Liberty discipline through the ILHA.


Dr. Elizabeth James

Dr. Elizabeth James comes to the ILHA from a 20 year higher education career in equine science. From teaching colt starting and equine science courses at several colleges and universities to riding young horses at ranches, Dr. James has dedicated her entire career to helping others learn and grow in an industry she loves.

Dr. James earned her Bachelors degree from the University of Nebraska in Animal Science with an emphasis on Equine Genetics. From there she earned her Masters degree in Equine Reproduction from the University of California – Davis with a thesis on Animal Assisted Therapy for children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. She went on to earn her PhD from the University of Kentucky in Experiential Education and Assessment.

Dr. James began her professional career teaching colt starting classes at Laramie County Community College in Cheyenne, Wyoming. She was also an instructor at the North American Racing Academy with Chris McCarron and spent 10 years as a professor in the Equine Department at the University of Kentucky. In her time as an instructor, Dr. James coached two students to win the Broke By Sunset Collegiate Colt Starting Challenge and helped seven students be selected for the highly competitive Legacy of Legends and Godolphin Flying Start Programs.

Dr. James has received the 2020 John W Galbreath Award for Outstanding Equine Entreprenuership, WEA Distinguished Educator Award, LCCC Outstanding Faculty Award, and the University of Kentucky Teacher Who Made a Difference Award. She was also nominated for the Ken Freedman Outstanding Advisor Award and has been inducted into the Phi Sigma Honor Society for Biological Sciences, Gamma Sigma Delta Honor Society for Agriculture, and Kappa Delta Pi Honor Society of Education.

In addition to teaching, Dr. James has owned and trained horses for decades and competed for the first time in the RRP Thoroughbred Makeover in 2018 finishing in the Top 5 out of 73 in the Freestyle Division with a routine that incorporated Liberty on the ground, Liberty off of a ridden horse, Liberty obstacles, and bareback & bridleless ridden work.

Dr. James has a passion for helping others achieve their personal and professional goals and is excited to dedicate her time to helping grow and promote a discipline loved by so many around the world.