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Back in the saddle again: Equine Industry Program alums return to campus

January 13, 2020 Jim Warner
equine alum Mike Recio

Being able to give back as an alum can take many forms. One of the most effective ways is to return to the classroom as a guest speaker. Exposing Equine students to potential careers not only makes the classroom experience more dynamic, but guest alums add the aspirational factor—students can connect with those who have been in their shoes.

This year’s equine speaker series featured seven guest speakers who are UofL graduates, including three alumni from the Equine Industry Program (EIP). The speakers come from all facets of the industry—regulatory, start-ups, technology, and the media.

From event management and hospitality to breeding and training, this fall’s class explored the range and diversity of careers an Equine degree can offer. A few of the past graduates are highlighted below, along with topics they covered with the Equine students.

Susan Harris** – Susan owns Spring Run Farm in Prospect, KY, and wears many hats in the horse show world, teaching US Pony Club students, eventing, dressage, basic hunt seat, equitation, and jumping. She spoke with students about how the types and quality of shows have changed in Kentucky since she was a kid and the realities of owning a working farm. The students learned about the different pieces of Spring Run’s business model – boarding horses, lessons, clinics, shows, and a new Bed and Breakfast that can host events like weddings and corporate meetings.

Mike Recio* (pictured above) – Mike is a graduate of the EIP and owns his own Thoroughbred sales company, South Point Sales. He talked to the students about getting his start in the bloodstock/sales world at Taylor Made Farm and the skills he learned from them about client management.

Robert Keck* – Rob is another graduate of the EIP and has spent his career working for Crestwood Farms in Lexington, KY. Rob explored the world of pedigrees and what breeders look at when pairing stallions and mares. He also talked about what breeding farms do to market their stallions as well as different breeding incentives to ensure stallion books fill.

Mark Midland* – Mark is the co-founder and CEO of Horse Racing Nation and Derby Wars. Mark talked to the students about starting his career working for race tracks and then what it took to turn what had started as a hobby into his own business. The students received great insight into what an entrepreneur goes through with a start-up company, along with the deep-dive that Mark gave them on how companies use analytics to evaluate website performance and make decisions. 

Additional Guest Speakers 

  • Jonathan Lang, Kentucky Horse Park
  • Mike Tanner, US Trotting Association
  • Rep. Adam Koenig, KY House of Representatives
  • Loren Hebel-Osborne **, Quint Events
  • Andy Lonnon* and Vic Harrison, United Tote
  • Sally Baker, American Association of Equine Practitioners
  • Neil Howard, Thoroughbred Trainer
  • Jessie Oswald** and EJ Clark, National Turf Writers and Broadcasters Association
  • Ted Nicholson, Kentucky Downs

(*COB alum/ **UofL alum)

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