|Certificates:||Riding Master VI|
|Current Position:||Instructor and Trainer at New Leaf Equestrian, in Long Island, NY|
|Advice:||Have a repertoire of skills. To make things happen, you have to make a plan.|
August 2006 - Katrin Boniface met her business partner Jennifer Smedley on a July Fourth excursion to Ocean City, Maryland, when she was just 16 years old, Jennifer just 14. They hit it off instantly and before long they were making plans for carving out their own niche in the horse industry. “We were crazy kids,” Katrin says. “Going to a regional Morgan show, we spent the entire 7 hour trip plotting our barn. Some of it has turned out as planned.”
The Smedley family owns Heritage Harvest Farm in Boonesboro, Maryland, where they raise and sell Morgans. The girls continued to talk about running an equine business together whenever Katrin visited her friend to help out with the farm’s stallions, mares and foals. As college decisions loomed, they got more serious. Katrin went off to the State University of New York at Stony Brook. “They had an intercollegiate team but not much of an equestrian program,” she says. “It was a good program for the experience of riding for fun.” Katrin knew, however, that if she wanted to work with horses, she needed to find a deeper equine program.
Katrin decided to leave Stony Brook and go to Meredith Manor. Jennifer would head to veterinary school. Those decisions, she says, were part of an overall business plan. With their combined credentials, the pair reckoned they would be able to offer clients a complete package of equine services including riding lessons; horse training; purchases and sales; showing; and a veterinary clinic with a full range of breeding services from insemination to foaling.
During the summer of 2001, just before Katrin left for Meredith Manor, the two girls started a summer horse camp for kids ages 7 to 16 using some of the farm’s horses and some they had bought and trained themselves the year before. As her studies progressed at Meredith Manor, Katrin brought two of the farm’s stallions along with her to continue their education as well. She took summers off to continue working with the camp as it expanded from four weeks to eight and the number of campers grew.
“I took the teaching program at Meredith Manor my first year and got my teaching certificate,” Katrin says. “The course is wonderful.” She took the lessons she’d learned on how to handle kids, how to keep changing things so they don’t become bored, and developing your eye for what’s actually going on back to Boonesboro each summer to help improve the camp.
Katrin also took training for five quarters, earned her massage therapy certificate, took the business management course, and took two quarters of farrier science. That repertoire of skills has stood her in good stead, she says, in helping to keep costs down at Heritage Harvest. For example, she can save costs through the winter when she has extra time by trimming the barefoot horses herself.
Katrin feels that her certifications make a difference in what the business can charge for her services. She points out, for example, that certified riding instructors in New York charge and get almost double what uncertified instructors get. While the actual charges for lessons vary widely depending on the geographic area, she feels that credentials enable instructors anywhere to earn a premium.
Jennifer graduates from veterinary school this year. She plans to work for a veterinary practice for awhile to gain experience then return to Heritage Harvest and set up a foaling clinic. This year, she and Katrin expect the first foals that will be entirely their own, foals from mares they have bred and foaled themselves, foals they will raise and train on their own. That will be a real milestone, Katrin says, and a harbinger of greater things to come as the partners continue to execute their plan.
Update: Katrin now owns and operates New Leaf Equestrian in Long Island, NY.