Sheri L. Brandl is the owner and trainer of Equitate LLC. She has been working with American Saddlebreds for over 20 years. She grew up in the small town of Cato, WI in Manitowoc County. There she started her interest in horses along with her mother and sister. Together, they traveled and showed Saddlebreds all over the Midwest. Sheri's interest in training & teaching began in the summer when she was 16 and worked for her trainer. Throughout her teenage years, she worked and showed horses successfully in every division. Sheri then went on to college & earned a degree in Economics and Equestrian Science at William Woods University in Fulton, MO. She has been training & teaching ever since. Riders under the Equitate LLC banner have enjoyed numerous show ring successes. Sheri truly enjoys training and teaching - and having both riders and horses enjoy what they do.
Mark Bodnar has been in the horse business his entire life. He grew up on his parent's Merriehill Farm in Marengo, IL. He has shown notable horses such as Merriehill Hooligan, Brentwood Command, Montebelle Skywalker and Medomak King Cobra. Mark and Sheri were married in February of 2016. Mark assists in all facets of the business, including training both Saddlebreds & Morgans at the barn and also teaching lessons.
Mark also continues to help with the sales and marketing of the many fine horses at Merriehill Farm. Mark won the 2010 ASR Futurity Of Kentucky with I'm First Born in 2010 and led Mastroianni to the 2011 and 2012 World Champion Morgan Stallion Stallion honors. He also won the Morgan Weanling Gala championship class at the 2015 Jubilee Horse Show with a weanling he trained and showed.
Lesson Program Manager/Instructor
Bridget Ward been involved with horses since age 7 through lessons, showing and trail riding her childhood horse. She transitioned to Saddlebreds in high school and has been riding and working under Sheri Brandl ever since. She has shown in Academy, Country Pleasure, and Country Pleasure Driving. Bridget graduated from William Woods University with a degree in Elementary Education and a minor in Equestrian Science. Prior to coming to Equitate full-time, she was a kindergarden teacher and also worked for a large marketing agency for five years as a Recruitment Manager.
Bridget manages the lesson program which entails overseeing the scheduling of lessons, instructing, and coordinating special events such as parties, camps, and shows. She enjoys teaching form and function while helping riders create and meet goals in a positive team setting.
Stacy’s mom passed on her strong passion for horses when she was just a little girl. She began showing Morgans until she rode an American Saddlebred and fell in love with the breed. She showed horses on the Michigan circuit in Equitation, Pleasure and Amateur 3-Gaited divisions. She then took time off from showing for college and received her B.A. in Accounting from Michigan State University. After college, she took her love of riding to the teaching realm, beginning on a small scale which then blossomed into a full-time second career. She loves working with both beginners and advanced riders on school horses and show horses alike where teaching proper equitation exposes both its challenges and subtle nuances. Stacy likes using lunge line and pattern lessons to shape riders and group lessons to prepare them for the spatial reasoning and effortless handling of the “unexpected”. She enjoys teaching the basic skill sets that all riders need whether interested in competing or not. She is thrilled to be part of the talented Equitate team!