Karin Schmidt started riding in a high level dressage barn in Germany and was a member of a vaulting team from age 7-13. After high school she became a professional jockey and rode successful thoroughbred horses on racetracks in Europe, South America and USA for nine years. In the decades following she added professional experiences in horse training, stable management and teaching riding lessons.
Since she moved to Michigan in 1999 with her family she followed her lifelong dream to became a therapeutic riding instructor and she dived deep into the vaulting world.
Karin Schmidt is the owner of Legacy Stables and founder and executive director of Karin’s Horse Connection. With her vaulting club A Vaulting Connection she was the first person that brought vaulting to the greater Grand Rapids area and other clubs branched off of it. Karin’s international expertise has lead her to participate in the World Equestrian Games 2018. As a clinician she likes traveling and sharing her horse related skills. But as a proud grandma she also likes to spend time with her family right here at the farm.
Some of Karin’s certifications are:
German masters degree in horse training (1995)
German vaulting coach level 3 (2005)
PATH international instructor (Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International) (2002)
AVA American Vaulting Association
USEF United States Equestrian Federation
FEI Federation Equestrian International
CHA Camp Horsemanship Association
4H / PEP Proud Equestrian Program
MIHA Equestrian Team
Grace Peterson/ Program Director Grace started working for Karin as a Riding Instructor in the fall of 2014. In the spring of 2016 she became the Program Director and helps Karin oversee all that goes on at Legacy Stables. She started riding as a five year old and showed in 4-H all the way through high school. At age six she got a horse named Diamond and the two have been together ever since. In her high school years, she trained ponies, gave lessons and cared for her family’s herd of ten horses. During college she worked two years at a summer camp as an riding instructor. She has extensive experience teaching and working with children through camps, Sunday schools, riding lessons and being the oldest of nine. In 2018 Grace became a certified PATH International instructor for teaching students with special needs. Horses have had a huge impact on Grace’s life and she loves having the opportunity to share horses to improve the lives of others.
Miriam Hamilton/Barn Manager Miriam has had horses since the day she was born and was riding before she could walk. Growing up on a farm she knows how to drive tractors, fix fences, and care for horses. She has shown horses in 4-H, raised miniature horses, and taught many lessons to friends and family. When she was 10 she started working with a yearling mare, ‘Blitz’,who she has trained from the ground up. In college, she worked as a Wrangler at summer camp teaching lessons and guiding trail rides. Miriam has a passion for working with people of all ages and sharing her love of horses. We are blessed to have her caring for our horses/barn and teaching our students!
Hannah Skaggs/ Riding Instructor has been riding horses for about fourteen years. She started riding and volunteering at a local YMCA camp before moving on to show in the hunter, jumper and dressage rings. She finally got her own horse, Trillium, a Trakehner paint cross, when she was eighteen. She recently earned a bachelors degree from Michigan State in nutritional sciences and is now pursing a Master’s Degree in Nutrition. While in high school and college, she also worked on several horse farms as a stable hand and farm manager’s assistant. She has worked with a variety of horses and absolutely loves sharing her equine passion with new people!
Lisa Groeneveld/Office Administrator came to Legacy Stables as a beginner Leisure Rider in 2014. One month of lessons turned into several and she has not looked back. Lisa considers herself a late blooming Horse Crazy Girl! She wanted to contribute to such a great program, but not having the horse knowledge to do so, the office administrator job was the perfect alternative. Lisa has a business degree and a day job in accounting. She says, “The barn is definitely my happy place and don’t tell my husband but my boyfriend’s name is Charley (Karin’s first horse!)”.
Mandi Freund/ Riding Instructor As a young rider she spent many years in the 4-H program in northern lower Michigan. As a teenager she began taking dressage lessons. She was fortunate to have been exposed to natural horsemanship as a teenager as well, and her interest in this discipline grew and continues today. She attended college at Lake Erie College where she received a degree in Equine Science Facility Management. While Mandi was there she had the opportunity to ride several different disciplines, with many wonderful instructors. Upon graduation, she moved to Montana and worked on a guest ranch as a wrangler. It was at this ranch where she was able to expand her knowledge and practice of natural horsemanship. After returning to Michigan, she had the opportunity to ride with natural horseman clinicians Buck Brannaman and Bob Blackwell and dressage instructors Maryal Barnett and K.A Von Ziegner. Starting in 2008 she worked with a hunter/jumper barn on the A circuit where she was able to work with several Olympic level trainers and riders.
Kim Dittenber/Vaulting Coach Kim and her family had gone horse back riding at another barn in the fall of 2015 and loved it so much that they wanted to find a way to get “horse time” more regularly. This is when they learned about vaulting through Kentwood Parks & Recreation. Since then, Kim’s passion for the sport has grown and she joined us as a coach. She has many skills to offer the team! She has eight years in education teaching individuals of various ages including at risk youth and young adults. Kim is very health conscious working as a diabetes prevention coach, eating a vegetarian diet, and participating in many fitness activities including hiking, yoga, kayaking, and Zumba. Kim has been actively learning more about vaulting in order to improve her coaching. She says, “As a vaulting coach I try to incorporate a variety of fun strengthening and stretching exercises. I’m enthusiastic about the sport and excited about learning more. Legacy stables has felt like home from day one and I’m so impressed by the fact that it is accessible to EVERY one regardless of age, gender, experience, ability etc.”
Nicki Kantz/ Riding Instructor started volunteering at Legacy Stables in Spring of 2016 when her family relocated from Big Rapids, MI. She first started riding when she was 5 years old and participated in the local 4-H club up north. As a college student, Nicki working as a riding instructor and trail ride guide for a youth camp and family camp near Big Rapids. By the time she finished college, she starting working full time as the Horsemanship Director at the camp where she held the position for 5.5 years before moving to the Grand Rapids area. Nicki currently works full-time as a High school Science teacher at a Michigan Great Lakes Virtual Academy teaching classes like Environmental Science and Forensic Science. Working and teaching at Legacy Stables is Nicki’s way of connecting her love for horses and her talent for teaching.
Katie Hauch/ Riding Instructor Katie has been riding since she was 7 years old but has always had a love and passion for horses. She has participated in Kent county 4H; showing for the first 5 years of her riding career. Katie enjoys Western Pleasure, Showmanship, and Reining but was also disciplined in English riding. Katie has also ways dreamed of teaching people how to ride horses. It is a dream come true to be able to spread her love and knowledge of horses with her students.
Rachel Mieras/ Riding Instructor has been riding horses all of her life. She received her first pony at the age of 5 and has never looked back. She has shown dressage, Hunter jumpers, and her true love eventing. Rachel grew up riding the green horses including her first pony who was only 1 years old and not broke. With lots of lessons and help she did hunters and pony club on him, until she out grew him. Her next was a off the track 3 year old TB mare who she did show jumping, 4 H , and eventing on. She now rides the daughter of this mare who she breed, and trained. She has given lessons, done training rides and continues to learn from others every chance she gets. She has seen and experienced the healing , confidence and strength that horses give and loves to share that with others. Including her two daughters who ride and do vaulting. Rachel firmly believes being a good rider means being a good horse person and not only enjoying saddle time but also enjoying the horse itself.