Ellie Phipps Price and Chris Towt
Ellie and Chris bought Montgomery Creek Ranch (MCR) in Northern California in 2012 after rescuing a herd of 173 wild mustangs from Nevada. They have been developing MCR into a facility to train their young prospect horses to be adopted out, and respectfully give back freedom to the rest of the herd.
Ellie and Chris met while horseback riding in Colorado. They share a love for wildlife, wine and horses. Ellie's first mustang Dunstan is named for their winery in Sonoma, CA.
Ellie is the Executive Producer of AMERICAN MUSTANG, a documentary released in 2013, that shows wild horses in 3D for the first time. The movie has raised awareness about the plight of America's wild horses, and aims to inspire legislative protections for mustangs.
Nancy O'Neill Lombardo
Nancy got her first horse at age 8 and has owned and ridden for others since then, working at a guest ranch for fifteen years, and as an assistant trainer and barn manager to a performance horse trainer for five years before joining MCR.
Nancy also gained invaluable animal health experience working along side several well respected veterinarians caring for herds of up to ninety horses.
She is an avid amateur naturalist and hiker and has already set up trail cameras around the ranch, keeping track of our horses and learning the rhythms of the local wildlife.
Nancy and Santino met while riding and continue to enjoy riding together at home and on pack trips in the Sierra Nevada mountains.
Santino ('Tino') Lombardo
Santino was born and raised in rural Northwest Pennsylvania where at a young age he worked for a cattle ranch and dog training facility. There he developed his passion and deep respect for the land, livestock, and wildlife.
Immediately following high school he joined the US Army where he served as a Military Police Officer during Operation Desert Storm. He spent much of he is service in the Republic of Panama.
Upon relocating to California, Santino managed both large and small horse and cattle ranches and gained the practical and technical knowledge that he will use to improve and maintain the safety and health of the Montgomery Creek horses.
Archie Criner (left) and Seth Kirby (right)
Archie hails from the local town of Stonyford, CA where he learned about taking care of horses while growing up at home. He has become a skilled all around ranch hand at MCR — whether its driving a tractor, maintaining equipment, fixing fence, or feeding horses, Archie is at home on the ranch. For fun, Archie enjoys the bull riding at the Stonyford Rodeo.
Seth is originally from Yuba City, is now happily settled in Stonyford where he and his wife Chandra are enjoying raising their children in a small town. Seth came to MCR with some experience in construction and landscape maintenance, which makes him an invaluable member of the MCR team. While primarily responsible for the care of the horses, Seth can be found wherever the action is at MCR. As one of our original team members, Seth now knows the names of many of the 200 wild horses in the main herd, and knows the quirks and antics of the young horses in training as well as anyone. For fun Seth enjoys riding dirt bikes more than horses.
Carina is one of our top riders at MCR, riding the training horses, enthusiastically exploring the trails, and putting on the miles that make our horses so good at what they do.
Carina is a UC Davis graduate in Animal Science with a double focus on equine and companion animals and lives in nearby Stonyford. She calls her life there a “a little slice of heaven”.
Carina started riding at age 7, has ridden competitively for the UC Davis Hunter Jumper Team, and is currently competing in 3 Day Eventing.
What Carina likes best about MCR: “I love, love, love riding! So far I’ve loved each and every horse, figuring our their quirks and preferences, they’re so full of personality. I’m really excited to work under Nancy and learn from her – and I’m also really excited to continue to watch the babies and the training kids grow. Such a wonderful, wonderful, once-in-a-lifetime experience.”
Casie Jo Butrick
Casie Jo Butrick of Elk Creek, CA is an all-around horse person in the best sense of the word. She has done a little of everything, from riding school in W. Virginia for jumping and dressage to reining and working with cattle.
Casie Jo enjoys working cattle, riding the hills of MCR, and happily takes on some of our greener horses to give them the polish and sensibility that will make them dependable mounts.
Casie Jo likes “the positive work that MCR puts into the horses – and the influence that we’ve brought with the mustangs into the broader horse community”.
We are very lucky to have her in the saddle at MCR!
Brian is a traditional farrier who makes his own shoes and puts the horses’ health first. He primarily shoes performance horses in Northern California and has won major farrier competitions across the country.
In addition to shoeing the saddle horses at MCR, Brian and his team, farrier DJ Fiske and Tiffany Gonsalves, also trim the big herd of almost 200 wild horses at MCR twice a year in a squeeze/tilt chute. This is a huge task, taking up to 4 days and requiring a fair amount of skill, strength and courage. He was at first skeptical about the process, but quickly realized it is the safest way for horses and people and gets the horses hooves trimmed.
Asked why he would take on this responsibility, Brian’s main concern is to help the horses, and support our efforts at MCR, but he also enjoys learning from them.
Brian explains “ To trim 70 horses in a day, every 6 months, and follow their feet over time with records and photos, is a strong research project and a real learning experience. Conformation and genetics will establish what you’re working with, but of course environment, care, and activity all add to the equation.”
(Since the wild horses at MCR do not run enough miles on sand and rocky soils, their hooves need to be trimmed. Its also a chance for us to worm and vaccinate and keep an eye on their overall health. We are very grateful to have someone as capable as Brian helping us with our mustangs!)
Tiffany is Brian’s niece and has been working with him since she was ten years old. She’s a Cal Poly Graduate and has a career in agriculture inspection.
DJ has been a professional farrier since graduating from college. He also had a sixteen year career in government packing –maintaining trails and resources for Forest Sevice in California.
Tara (Arrowood) Pynn
Tara joined the team in 2012 and has been the key source of the fantastic photography of our wild herds. Tara is a professional photographer, specializing in fine art equine photography and wedding and lifestyle photography. You can view her work at Arrowood Photography and on her blog. She frequently visits MCR, and beautifully documents the ranch and the horses.
Suzanne is Campaign Director of the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign, and is a 20-year animal welfare professional. During her career, she has worked to improve the plight of elephants, chimpanzees, marine mammals and other animals both in captivity and the wild. In 2009 she turned her attention to the fight to save America's wild horses and burros. Under her leadership the campaign has grown to include over 50 coalition partners whose memberships represent over 10 million American citizens. Suzanne has facilitated the rescues that brought many of the wild horses to MCR, and continues to be an advisor and asset to the ranch.
Erin Gilmore is an equestrian photographer and journalist who has traveled around the world covering the top level of international show jumping. A native of Oakland, California, Erin’s lifetime of riding experience gives her a deep personal connection with the equestrian industry and the people it serves. Erin has contributed to and managed several equestrian magazines, as well as freelancing for media outlets around the world. In 2013, Erin expanded her capabilities to include marketing and brand identity strategies for equestrian-related businesses and media outlets.