MEET OUR STAFF
The Best Educators
Elizabeth always had a love of helping people. At a young age she volunteered at Helen Hays Hospital as a Candy Striper. Her love of horses also developed at a young age. However, she didn't start riding till the age of 29. Fast forward to Freedom Horse Farm, a combination of her two loves. She is very proud of what Freedom Horse has become and is excited to see it evolve. While she is the director of the program she is also anAdvanced Therapeutic Riding Instructor, Equine Specialist in Mental Health and Learning as well as a Mentor, certified by PATH International. She is also EAGALA Certified.
Leslie Terzuolo is a New Jersey farm native who started her life with horses at a young age with the purchase of her first pony, Sonny. Her professional career was kickstarted during her college years when she started working as a wrangler just north of Asheville, NC. Upon moving back to the north east she began working and training with several top trainers and professionals in the hunter jumper rings while showing her horse, Walter. While working for Nona Garson she traveled on the AA circuit and continued networking and learning the business of horses. After taking a break to start her family she began instructing full time. Leslie also loves everything there is about dogs, Harry Potter, food, and enjoys truly just doing anything outside.
Nicole Gonzalez is a New Jersey native who started with horses showing in the Arabian circuit at 8 years old. She has earned both her Bachelor’s Degree and a Master’s Degree of Animal Science from the University of Connecticut, with a focus on equine science and research on the equine gut microbiome, as well as a minor in Therapeutic Horsemanship Education. She came to Freedom Horse Farm in 2017 where her love for teaching therapeutic riding flourished and has now been a PATH International Certified Therapeutic Riding Instructor since 2018. Nicole also loves spending time with her horse Flame, finding a good book to read, and spending time outdoors.
Renee Mareski began her journey into the horse world by learning to ride at Somerset County’s own Somerset County Lord Stirling Riding Stable in Basking Ridge. She continued riding by competing on an intercollegiate level at Springfield College and St Lawrence University.
Renee’s education has stayed as close to animals as she could get by earning a BS in Biology from St Lawrence University and MS in Animal Science with a concentration in Equine Nutrition and research in equine lactation from University of Kentucky.
Upon returning to Somerset County after living several places in the Northeast, Renee joined Main Stream as a volunteer, progressing to a PATH Certified instructor in 2002 and a NARHA Certified Mentor in 2010. She has continued her journey by participating in the Therapeutic Riding At Centenary (TRAC) program and Somerset County Park Commission (TRAILS). She is now at home at Freedom Horse.
During the week, Renee is a purchasing agent for Opici Family Distributing and a member of the Bedminster Township Committee. And when she gets a few minutes, she spends time with her husband Joe and dog Jenny.
Veteran Riding Instructor
Melanie is a full time Recreation Therapist with the NJ VA hospital and has been an equine enthusiast her entire life. She is active in educating and building the equine assisted services offered within the VA and has participated in numerous therapeutic riding and education programs across the United States. She specializes in the use of equines to aid in personal growth and development while learning new skills. She believes that everyone is able to gain something from a horse. “In my opinion, you don’t have to ‘need therapy’ to get a therapeutic outcome from their presence.”
As the great Winston Churchill said, “There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man”.
Maria has been volunteering with Freedom Horse Farm for years. She has taken on the role of Volunteer Coordinator and does a wonderful job of making sure that our lessons have help. This is not an easy position as she has to keep us all in line!! Thank you MARIA!
Veterans Program Director
Elise has been volunteering at Freedom Horse Farm for years. She loves helping all, but she pours her heart out helping the Veterans. This is the perfect position at the farm for her. She is upfront, doesn't hold back and is supportive at the same time. Being able to share her knowledge and love of horses has been helping the Veteran find support, compassion and a listening ear and a willing horse partner make for a healing experience.
Dominick attended a Veteran program at Freedom Horse Farm. He developed a special bond with a horse named Murphy during that program that lead to a permanent position at Freedom Horse Farm. He continues to help make repairs, update the facility and now is an integral part of our Veteran Program.
Patty came to Freedom Horse Farm with her partner Lucian. Lucian suffered a serious Traumatic Brain Injury and had a love of riding horses. Fast forward several years and now and Patty is the Barn Manager. Patty has a long history of working with horses. From working with race horses and now our horses we know they are in good hands.
Nandini has been volunteering with Freedom Horse Farm for several years. She helps new volunteers find their way around. Nandini has the pleasure of living a hop away from the farm, so if there are any mischievous runaways, she is there to herd them back in. Ask her how many times she has gone over to assist in a loose donkey and she will roll her eyes
Emily started riding when she was 8 and is currently a sophomore at Centenary University studying to be an equine veterinarian. She also volunteers at the therapeutic riding program at Centenary and is planning on becoming a certified therapeutic riding instructor next year. Emily’s favorite on the farm is Darma.
Faith started riding when she was 6. She is now a Centenary College student studying psychology and therapeutic riding. She will graduate in the Fall of 2022. Her favorite horse on the farm is Poker!