FARMINGTON — The demonstration on liberty horsemanship, a late addition to Farmington Fair on Saturday evening, Sept. 23, found the pulling ring stands more than two-thirds full.

The ever-popular demolition derby was getting underway near the racetrack grandstand while musicians performed to a packed audience in the park nearby.

Avery Allumbaugh and Patrick Sullivan, who met through Modern-Day Horsemanship and its associated Gamilah Unbridled were married last month at Acadia National Park. Avery, originally from Pittston reached out about scheduling a demonstration during the fair.

Avery Allumbaugh Sullivan gives a liberty horsemanship demonstration Saturday evening, Sept. 23, in the pulling ring at Farmington Fair. She is riding Indigo using a saddle pad without stirrups and no bridle while directing Tess beside her and Nostalgia with a whip. The whip serves as an extension of her arm. Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser

“Liberty means freedom,” she said at the start of the demonstration. “We ask horses to connect with us using no ropes, no nothing.”

Avery spoke of the Gamilah Unbridled non-profit program where Patrick rode his Arabian horse, Gamilah “from California to Kentucky, in cities and over bridges with nothing over her head.”

Along the way they stopped to work with horse rescues and youth programs and worked with 17 different non-profits, she noted. “Some of the rescue horses were completely feral, had never been touched by humans,” she noted.


Through an application process, horses were selected then four months were spent getting them started before finding them homes, Avery said. All were trained with the liberty method, they had the choice to choose, she stated.

Nostalgia, a former bucking horse yawns during a liberty horsemanship demonstration Saturday night, Sept. 23, in the pulling ring at Farmington Fairgrounds. Modern-Day Horsemanship rescued the horse through The Medicine Horse Project in Nevada. Avery Allumbaugh Sullivan explained horses yawn to let out stress. Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser

Nostalgia, one of the horses used in the demonstration came from The Medicine Horse Project in Nevada, Avery said. “Based on the brands on her butt, she was believed to be from bucking stock,” she noted. “She was absolutely terrified. Now she is the kindest, sweetest horse. One and a half years ago you couldn’t get within 20 feet of her.

“Nostalgia was considered a throwaway. I worked with her in a new place, got her to connect with me.”

Horses can feel energy, are so sensitive, Avery stated. After Nostalgia yawned, she explained, “When a horse yawns it is a sign of letting out stress.”

Avery spoke of how riders often clamp down on a bit – the part of a bridle inserted in the horse’s mouth – without even realizing it. “In reality, a bit causes a lot of problems,” she noted.

Another horse, Indigo came from Pegasus Project, Inc., Avery said. A yearling at the time, she was one of close to 50 horses on a property that were being neglected, she noted. “I had to work really hard to touch her, then did ground work,” she stated. “Indigo would buck or bolt when I tried to ride her.”


During the demonstration, Avery rode Indigo using a saddle pad without stirrups and a loose-fitting rope around her neck. She was the only horse ridden as Leo, the horse Patrick had planned to ride became overstimulated with all the other activities going on near the pulling ring.

Rather than stress Leo out more, Patrick opted to return him to the barn.

Avery Allumbaugh Sullivan guides horses Tess, closest to her and Nostalgia during a liberty horsemanship demonstration Saturday night, Sept. 23, in the pulling ring at Farmington Fair. Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser

Tess, the final horse in the demonstration was a Bureau of Land Management mustang that was Avery’s draw for the Extreme Mustang Makeover  when she was a youth competitor. Two weeks after getting her, Avery had her first ride on Tess with nothing on her head.

“Tess was born in a holding pen, her mom was a wild horse out west,” Avery noted. “I got her as a yearling, had 90 days to get her adoptable. I have had her nine years. Tess can be quite challenging, is scrappy, makes up for her short size.”

Nostalgia and Tess are best friends, Avery said. “Tess doesn’t like being ridden,” she noted. “She can be, it is not her thing.”

Working Tess with Nostalgia helps keep Tess in line, Avery stated. “It doesn’t always go perfect,” she noted. When one or both of them decide to do other than what is asked of them, Avery said she works to get them back where she wants them to be.


“I don’t make a big deal of it, just continue on,” she explained.

Avery’s favorite part of the demonstration is working with all three horses at once. “There is nothing more powerful than having three horses working with me,” she stated.

A whip is used as an extension of Avery’s arm. It helps guide the horses and shows them where to go, she noted. “I use the whip to create a bit of energy,” she explained. “When I lower the whip, it lowers the energy, they become calm.”

The three mares are the first team Avery ever worked with. She didn’t know about the stigma associated with working mares together. “Very few in the liberty world work mares together,” she stated. “I didn’t know. I have been working together with them for seven or eight months.”

While Avery admits all three mares are opinionated and strong, once a connection was earned they were willing to work for her. All three were considered throw away horses, she said. “If you give horses an opportunity, try to communicate with them in a way they can understand, there is so much they can do,” she noted.

“It is crazy to see these horses putting their trust in us.”


In a Sept. 25 post on the Gamilah Unbridled Facebook page, information about what took place prior to the demonstration was mentioned. A photo was shared “capturing an unbelievably special moment, a moment that was the culmination of almost two years of dedication.”

The page noted, “Before the demo, we had a little meet and greet with the horses. We didn’t think it would be that busy, so didn’t think much of it. But almost immediately … a stream of people came over. Little kids with lots of energy, people in wheelchairs, babies in strollers, you name it.

“Nostalgia calmly greeted every single person. Letting them pet her, on her shoulder, neck, and even face. Less than two years ago, this horse stood cowering in a round pen whenever we stepped in, with so much fear radiating from her it would break your heart.

“This weekend she showed us that she’s truly a transformed horse. She was the best spokesperson for liberty and horses in need that we could ask for. That’s why we do it. And it’s why we’ll continue to do it.”

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