The School of Equine Studies continues to build a proud roster of alumni. Our graduates are practicing veterinarians, USEF/USDF "S" Dressage judges, respected professional hunter/jumper trainers in the United States and Europe, higher education instructors and administrators, PATH, Intl. certified therapeutic horsemanship instructors and center owners and entrepreneurs in an endless variety of businesses.
Keep reading here to learn more about our amazing alumni and their contributions to the equestrian industry.
- Becky Schmid (2012)
- Darcy (Bornemann) Murphy (2009)
- Katherine McMahon (2008)
- Kate Kunka (2007)
- Emily Miller (2000)
- Janie Lynn Rentz (1992)
- Sue Curry Shaffer (1975)
Becky Schmid graduated summa cum laude from Lake Erie College in 2012 with a B.S. in equestrian facilities management and a minor in biology. She currently serves as the operations manager of AgriStaff USA, an employment consulting agency she co-founded that specializes in the agricultural industry.
After working at a high-performance dressage farm for a few years, Becky decided to move back to her home state of Wisconsin and was faced with the question of what her next step would be. Since Becky and her partner, Frankie Rodriguez, both have the entrepreneurial spirit, the couple developed AgriStaff USA in 2014 with the goal of solving a major issue in the local dairy industry — the shortage of a qualified and quality workforce.
Located in Kiel, Wisconsin, AgriStaff USA offers many different services to assist companies with their workforce needs. One of the agency’s most popular services is employee placement. AgriStaff USA will recruit, screen, and do initial interviews of candidates when their clients need help finding quality workers, ultimately saving clients quite a bit of time and money.
They also service other markets of the agricultural sector such as crops and food processing, though their niche within the agricultural industry includes the dairy and equine sectors. Other services they offer include temporary staffing, employee management, translation and mediation at company meetings, payroll processing, and an employee training program for their dairy farm clients to teach employees proper safety and stockmanship techniques.
Becky and Frankie both have extensive experience working with horses, having worked for some of the top high performance farms in the country (Dressage, Hunter/Jumper, and Eventing), so they developed a division of AgriStaff that is dedicated to placing employees within the horse world. They have built this company from the ground up and are very pleased to be experiencing steady growth and expansion.
As the operations manager at AgriStaff, Becky is responsible for the daily operations of the business. From accounting to scheduling appointments and from client relations to interviewing candidates, she works to grow the business every day. Becky is the head of their division in the equine field, and manages many of the placements in that division. She also is a board member of the Kiel Area Association of Commerce. For more information on AgriStaff USA, visit www.agristaffusa.com.
Darcy Murphy graduated in 2009 with a B.S. and majored in Equine Teacher/Trainer. Darcy is originally from Marion, Iowa and now resides and works in Gloucestershire, United Kingdom.
Darcy is currently a Program Manager in the Equine University Department at Hartpury College and teaches on a wide range of classes on topics such as behavior, management, anatomy and physiology. Teaching is just one aspect of her role; Darcy also tutors between 23-70 students each year, supporting them in their studies. She also supervises student research projects which have been taken to the International Society for Equitation Science conferences and recruits for a variety of international and national equine events that are hosted on and off-site. Darcy’s favorite part of the job, however, is building the students’ practical skills, allowing her to continually have her hand on the pulse of what is going on in research and the industry. Throughout the year she scribes dressage tests for the top judges, who judge the top riders in the world, attends International Equine Forums, speaks with leading veterinarians and helps students get involved with those things as well. In the next year she will have achieved her BHS Assistant Instructor qualification and FEI Level 1 Steward which means Darcy will have the opportunity to teach more riding in the UK and travel internationally to steward.
Hartpury is located in the very scenic Gloucestershire countryside about five miles from the city of Gloucester. When not at work you will find Darcy with her horse Joker (also an LEC alumnus, as she likes to think) or her husband, Chris. Although, only 15 Joker is feeling his age and suffers from arthritis and COPD so Darcy helps him stay fit with some canters along the farm fields and hacks down the road. Since Chris kindly lets her have the extra man (Joker) in her life, it is only fair to watch him play his sport; many weekends you will find Darcy down at the football (soccer) pitch cheering Llandrindod Wells FC to victory.
Darcy leaves you with some anecdotal advice and inspirational words: "I was probably not the most typical of students in that I had never pinned down a specific career path (I still don’t feel I have, but I like this one so far) and the silver lining is that it has left me open to some really amazing opportunities. I have a love of all things horses and would like to think that over time I have grown to appreciate and respect lots of points of view and areas within the industry, which serves me well. As a respected Lake Erie instructor once said to me, "You really strive for excellence, and I don’t know that I’ve met a person with such single-minded determination.” I still carry those words with me today. My openness for opportunity and single-minded determination, in achieving a goal I have chosen, has supported me in succeeding in opportunities such as lecturing.”Darcy offers one final piece of advice with a quote from Richard Brandson: "If somebody offers you an amazing opportunity but you are not sure you can do it, say yes – then learn how to do it later!”
Graduates from the Lake Erie College School of Equine Studies have made their marks across the world. For Katherine McMahon, Class of 2008, her passions led her to Rouen, France, where she works in the international equine business as the owner of French Horse Exports (FHE). She also serves as an English professor for the Neoma Business School, in both their bachelor’s and master’s programs, and for the engineering universities ESIGELEC and CESI.
Kate Simonds graduated Summa Cum Laude from Lake Erie College in 2007 with a degree in Equine Facilities Management. Following her undergraduate degree, Kate received her law degree from Michigan State University College of Law and was admitted to the Wisconsin State Bar in 2010. During law school, she served as an extern for Racine County Circuit Court Chief Judge Gerald Ptacek; clerked for the Racine County Child Support Agency; did legal research for Phegley Law Offices; was an active member of the Family Law Society and Federalist Society; and was president of the Animal Law Society.
During the summer of 2010, Kate married Chris Simonds who also practices law in Wisconsin. That summer, Kate accepted an associate attorney position at Phegley Law Offices in Racine, Wisconsin, not far from where she grew up. Kate and Chris now live in a historic home in downtown Racine with their fabulous German Shepherd, Shelby.
Emily Miller began taking jumping lessons at the Lake Erie College Equestrian Center at the age of 12, later choosing to attend the college to study Biology. Graduating Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science degree and awards in her field of study in 2000, Ms. Miller moved on to enter the Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine. Newly graduated with her DVM degree in 2004, Dr. Miller began working for Cleveland Equine Clinic, based in Ravenna, OH. The state-of-the-art facilities of the Clinic currently provide Dr. Miller with the tools necessary for her to explore her interest in race and performance horses. Now happily married to Darren Otero, Dr. Miller looks forward to continuing to grow as an equine veterinarian, as well as seeing a return to riding and competing her Quarter Horses.
Dr. Miller's degree in Biology from Lake Erie College prepared her to meet the pre-veterinary requirements and in-depth studies awaiting her at the OSU College of Veterinary Medicine. In addition to the courses applied toward her degree in Biology, Dr. Miller participated in a variety of equine-related classes, including the subjects of nutrition, reproduction, and lameness. Tackling courses specific to her interest in horses provided Dr. Miller with the chance to develop skills that would later prove invaluable to her daily practice as an equine veterinarian.
Dr. Miller credits the leadership opportunities and personal interaction with strong mentors provided by the small-campus atmosphere of Lake Erie College as being a valuable contributor to her post-baccalaureate endeavors.
Janie Rentz credits her education at Lake Erie College for her success in the horse world. While at Lake Erie College, she rode on the IHSA team and became the first LEC rider to make it to Nationals, winning her National title in her flat class in her junior year. During her senior year, she again competed at IHSA Nationals and in the Jumper Team De Villes. One of Janie’s best memories of riding for Lake Erie was riding in the Team De Villes. Before one of the jumping rounds, she entered the arena and got bucked off. She somehow landed on her feet and hopped back on before the buzzer rang, and amazingly won the class!
After graduating from LEC Janie continued on to Georgetown University where she completed the Training and Development program. Janie started and ran the Georgetown and George Washington Intercollegiate Teams in 1997. She coached them for many years and then headed down to Florida to compete and train with top Olympic riders. Janie then moved to Germany where she rode and continued her training at Performance Sales International (P.S.I.), one of the elite auction barns of Europe. Upon returning to the United States, Janie focused on developing her own teaching, training and sales business "JL Training” at her farm in Purcellville, Virginia. Janie shows at the FEI level, and has shown to Prix St. George level and trained to Grand Prix dressage.
Janie Lynn Rentz learned along the way to always keep your goals in mind, and that you might be surprised about your journey to success. She reflects that LEC is an amazing stepping stone for anyone to learn about themselves in a safe and supportive community. The small classes, experienced teachers and faculty give you the best education you can get.
An alumna of Lake Erie College, Sue graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Equine Studies in 1975. She is the founder and co-owner with her husband Dyke Shaffer of Fairwind Farm in the wine country of Santa Rosa, CA. Sue has competed at the FEI levels for over 20 years, and has had multiple horses in the top ten nationally. She has had multiple students reach the top ten in USDF standings, and several of her Young Riders have medaled in the prestigious North American Junior/Young Rider Program. Of special note is Riana Porter, a recent National Champion. Sue Schaffer is a USEF "S” Dressage Judge, and is also an FEI Para-Equestrian Judge. In addition to the busy teaching and clinic schedule, Fairwind Farm stands Donnerschlag, a well-known Oldenburg stallion, by Donnerhall. Donnerschlag has sired multiple Premium foals, many of whom are competing very successfully at the FEI Level.