Laura Corsun: Founder and Executive Director
As the Founder and Executive Director, Laura is the woman behind all the magic. High & Mighty was founded in 2011 as a PATH Member Center, became a 501(c)(3) in 2013 and in 2019 became a PATH Premier Accredited Center. None of these accomplishments would have been possible without her whole-hearted dedication to the High & Mighty mission. Prior to founding High & Mighty, Laura obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Dance and a Masters in Education. Her role as the Executive Director is multi-faceted. Laura maintains the finances of the organization, develops the goals and mission of High & Mighty, provides leadership to the staff and volunteers, reports organization information to the board, and oversees the daily operations of High Mighty. She is also a PATH Certified Riding Instructor and a PATH Therapeutic Driving Instructor. Throughout these roles Laura finds enjoyment in the involvement of all aspects of our mission as well as in watching our participants, volunteers, staff and horses develop and change due to the work we do. It could be watching a horse drop their head and breath into a child’s hand, or an adult while riding who tells you they have never felt their body balanced before. When she has free time, Laura enjoys being outdoors, traveling, learning new things and spending time with friends and family. Laura is proud of what High & Mighty does, who we serve and is truly inspired by the community that supports us!
“Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is the future. Today is a gift.” – Bil Keane
Rachel Conaway: Coordinator of Programs and Equine Health
After graduating from SUNY Cobleskill with a Bachelors in Animal Science, Rachel joined the High & Mighty team in 2014 as an Instructor-in-training under Laura’s mentorship. In April of 2015, Rachel became a PATH certified instructor and began working part-time teaching lessons. Her dream of making equine assisted therapies a career came true in February 2018, when she became a full-time staff member. Her favorite part of being an instructor is watching a student master a skill that they have been struggling with. When she is not teaching, Rachel spends her time at the farm developing programs and keeping the herd in tip-top shape. Rachel enjoys each of their horses’ unique personalities and has a hard time choosing one that stands out as a favorite. She believes that they each excel at a different part of their job as therapy horses and she loves finding out what their strengths are. While she is not at work, Rachel enjoys traveling and trying new food with her husband Rhett and cuddling with their two cats: Talia and Wayne. In the future, Rachel would like to become certified as an Interactive Vaulting Instructor and an Equine Specialist in Mental Health and Learning.
“You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter than you think.” -Winnie the Pooh
Rachel Butler: Volunteer Coordinator
Bio on it’s way!
Julia Nevid: PATH Certified Therapeutic Riding Instructor
We welcomed Julia as the newest member of the High & Mighty team in March of 2020. Julia graduated from SUNY Cobleskill with a Bachelors in Therapeutic Horsemanship in 2019. This is also where Julia became a PATH Instructor. She is hoping to complete her certification as an Equine Specialist in Mental Health and Learning very soon. Prior to college, Julia spent time in Arizona, Massachusetts and camped in the Grand Escalades; but she grew up just down the road in Dutchess County! While she has only been with us a short time, her heart has already been stolen by Cooper. He was the first horse she rode at High & Mighty and his amazing soul and kindness was captivating. The most enjoyable aspect of her job is the ability to facilitate growth and a love of horses in her students. She loves to see how horses can bring people joy, whether on the ground or in the saddle. In her free time, Julia enjoys spending time with her cats, and watching Science Fiction/Fantasy TV shows, movies or reading the same genre of books.
“Everyone is different in their own way.”
Dianne Ortmann, MSW: Development Director
As Development Director, Dianne has one of the most important jobs on the farm. She is in charge of all things fundraising! This includes grant writing, appeal letters, event planning, board recruitment, acquiring new donors and maintaining our current donors. Without her, High & Mighty truly could not operate. Dianne has a special attachment to Cooper, because she and her daughter Louise are his owners! Cooper took such good care of Louise as her competition horse, that Dianne knew he would excel at taking care of our participants as a therapy horse–and she was right! Dianne enjoys seeing how Cooper and the other herd members benefit so many different people. When she is not busy at High & Mighty, Dianne enjoys riding, reading and watching movies with her family. Her family includes her husband Joe, daughters Tess and Louise, as well as two dogs, two cats and three horses.
“There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.” – Winston Churchill
David Smith: Facilities Manager
If there was a prize for the longest employment, it would absolutely go to Dave! He has been with High & Mighty from the very beginning, since 2007 to be exact. As the Facilities Manager, Dave’s daily activities can have a vast range. Some of his duties include regular repairs and maintenance, clearing and creating trails, mowing the grass and fields, plowing snow in the winter, painting buildings and fences (as well as our fabulous signs!), helping with the care of the horses and jumping into program as a horse leader or sidewalker as needed. Honestly, if there is a job around the farm that needs to be done–Dave can do it! He is always coming up with clever ways to utilize his handyman skills, no matter what the challenge or request. High & Mighty truly could not operate efficiently without him. His favorite part of his day is opening the barn door in the morning and hearing all of the horses talk to him. He especially enjoys hearing Shorty. Dave has a soft spot for big horses and has always been drawn to Shorty’s gentle eye. When he is not hard at work, Dave enjoys hunting, fishing, metal detecting and spending time with his friends and family.
“Happiness is in wanting what you have, not in having what you want!”
Cindy Smith: Equine Advocate and Social Media Specialist
Cindy has been a member of the High & Mighty team for many years, but she officially joined our staff in 2018. Her initial job duties were mainly barn-related and included feeding horses, cleaning stalls, turnout and barn cleanliness. We soon discovered that Cindy had many more hidden talents! She is now the go-to for treating our herd’s cuts, scrapes, bumps and bruises as well as keeping us stocked up on homemade horse bug spray in the summer months. Cindy is also the manager of our High & Mighty Facebook and Instagram pages. Those adorable photos and funny posts that you see are all thanks to her. If you have had the pleasure of visiting our High & Mighty shop, you have also seen Cindy’s handywork. Several people (including Cindy!) create and donate handmade treasures for our families, visitors and community to purchase. Cindy works diligently to maintain a rotating stock of these items. Of her many roles, Cindy enjoys night check the most. There is something very special about the peaceful nature of being on the farm in the moonlight. When she is not on the clock, Cindy enjoys gardening, sewing, spending time with her family and summer field tripping with her grandsons. And of course, spending as much time as possible with Jack, the most handsome horse on the farm!
“Believe you can, and you’re halfway there!” T. Roosevelt
Ally Bray: Barn Assistant
Ally joined our team as a volunteer before we came to our senses and hired her as a member of our barn staff in 2014. As a volunteer she showed us that she was determined, ambitious and organized–all qualities that continue to make Ally a valued member of our team. The best part of Ally’s day is being able to interact with the horses. They each talk to her using the language only they have, and it requires her to know without words what they are conveying. One horse that Ally is an expert at communicating with is Sonya. Ally thinks that she and Sonya get along so well because of their similar personalities. She loves that Sonya is calm and collected and always listens when you give her 100% of your attention. Ally is currently a student at Columbia Greene Community College majoring in Social Science; she hopes to transfer to SUNY Cobleskill to major in Animal Science with a focus in Equine Science.
“You get what you give!”
Paloma Talbott: Barn Assistant
Paloma has been a part of High & Mighty in one way or another for many years. She began as a barn and program volunteer, where her obvious skill and work ethic made hiring her an easy choice. At first Paloma only worked on the weekends, but we are happy to say that in 2019 she was able to join us during the week as well. Paloma is the first person that the horses see many mornings and she says it is the best part of her day. They are always so excited to get their hay and greet her in their own special way. When Paloma isn’t busy feeding horses, turning them out, cleaning stalls, sweeping the barn, filling waters or any of the other daily tasks on the farm; she especially enjoys spending time with Thomas. She says he has the cutest personality and never fails to make her laugh or put a smile on her face.
“You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending” -C.S. Lewis