Celtic Cross Equestrian Center
Marilee Tussing - Owner/Trainer
Marilee Tussing began riding at age 2 in the Pony Rings in Toledo Ohio. She was a horseless child herself and has a passion for enabling horseless riders to pursue their goals. As a child, she rode in Riding Academies in the Chicago area and bought her first horse when she graduated from Illinois State University with a Bachelor of Music. She was the first to recieve a Master of Music Education with Kodaly Emphasis from the University of Oklahoma. In 2019 she retired from 42 years of teaching elementary music and doing her horses on the side, to full time at Celtic Cross Equestrian Center and playing Irish music on the side.
She earned a Riding Instructor Certificate from Shenandoah Riding Center in Galena, Illinois studying every event in the Quarter Horse Rule book. She was then hired as an English trainer at that facility. She is qualified to teach Western and English lessons. Marilee enjoyed fox hunting with the Cornwall Hounds while living in Northern Illinois.
After moving to Oklahoma, she began studying Dressage and Eventing with Olympian Mike Huber. She was a member of the Area V Adult Eventing Team and competed at Kentucky Horse Park in 1993. She was silver medalist at the Sooner State Games in Eventing. Marilee has been an active leader in the United States Pony Club (USPC) since 1985 founding the Sooner Pony Club, and in 2014 Celtic Cross Pony Club Center. She has served on numerous committees for the National Organization. In 2021, she was silver medalist at the USPC National Festival in Western Dressage Level Marilee has shown in A-rated Hunter/Jumper shows from 2007-2011.
Her interest in Dressage has grown from eventing to both Western and Classical Dressage. She competed in the Western Dressage World Championship Show in 2014, 2019 and 2021. She currently competes in both Western and Classical Dressage on a regular basis.
Tori Tussing - Owner/Trainer
Tori Tussing has Grown up around horses her entire life. A a child her parents taught lessons and sponsored the Sooner Pony Club from it's inception. Tori rode and participated in local horse shows and the USPC events throughout her childhood.
Although she focused on her theatrical and musical skills, she never went far from her horse roots. Tori became a cosmetologist jduring high school and went on to Persue a Masters of Entertainment Business from Oklahoma City University in 2004, She received her Master Instructor of Cosmetology degree in 2008 and went to own her own Salon. In 2009 Tori became one of the first instructors at Paul Mitchell the School Norman where she taught through 2013. She was invited to audition to become a National Educator for John Paul Mitchell Systems in 2010 and has gone on to travel the country in that compacity ever since,
In 2013 Tori was given an opportunity to help her Mother Marilee with Celtic Cross' Barn Management. It didn't take long for Tori to realize how much she had missed the horses and so she began to ride again,. Marilee would occasionally ask her to substitute teach. Soon Tori began the Instructor Certificate Program offered by St. Gregory's University. Tori has since competed at the Novice Level throughout USEA Area V events. She has also jumped hoof first into the Welsh Pony and Cobb Society of America on which she sits on several boards. She owns, breeds, trains and coaches many of the Welsh Ponies at Celtic Cross, Tori has also won numerous awards across the Local Eventing Circuits as well as the Raise the Bar Hunter Jumper Association.
Beth Hurst, Ph.D. - Riding Instructor
Beth combines her love of music and social science Ph.D. with horses to gain a holistic understanding of human-horse relationships. She is passionate about introducing beginners to the wonderful world of horses!
Beth has been involved in horses her whole life, having grown up on a farm with horses and with both parents in the equine industry. As a child, Beth was very involved in 4-H and competed in the 4-H horse bowl. Beth also took lessons in trail/obstacles and western until high school. During high school, Beth began taking lessons in hunter jumper and competed in East Tennessee Hunter Jumper Association shows. Beth would go on to ride with Wesleyan College’s Equestrian Team, showing with the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association as an intermediate and later novice rider on the hunter jumper team and the western team. In college, she aided with horse camps and acted as assistant barn manager over the summers. While back on the family farm, she would also host her own week-long horse camp. After college, Beth took a break from serious riding to live in Germany. While on this break, she was fortunate enough to attend multiple training sessions at the Spanish Riding School in Vienna, Austria, where she watched the famous Lipizzaner stallions in training. Beth returned to the United States to complete her Master of Science in Communication and Information Science at the University of Tennessee. Following the completion of her master’s degree, Beth moved to Oklahoma to attend the University of Oklahoma, where she completed her Doctor of Philosophy in Communication. During this time, she realized that she desperately needed horses in her life.
Thus, she began working as a working student and taking lessons at Celtic Cross Equestrian Center. Here, she met Alfie and fell in love with Welsh Ponies. She would go on to buy and train a yearling Welsh B, named IRS(Iris) “Spring Breeze”. She is currently a member of the Welsh Pony and Cob Society of America (WPCSA). Following completion of her Ph.D., Beth began working at the Center for Applied Social Research and the National Weather Center in Norman, Oklahoma as a social science researcher. Throughout her time as a student, she also taught piano lessons, including at the Georgia Academy for the Blind and the Norman Music Institute, where she still maintains a handful of piano students. Beth has also taught college-level courses in public speaking and communication studies at the University of Tennessee and the University of Oklahoma. While she currently works during the week as an applied social science researcher, her passion has always been teaching. She continually seeks out ways to incorporate her spirit of teaching and learning in all aspects of her life: music, research, and horses!