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Meet The Team

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“As equestrians and educators, we both know how academic support and a connection with horses can give kids a leg up in life. ”

Team Members


Dominick’s success story is one of the inspirations behind the creation of Saddle Up Scholars. Originally from Baltimore City, Nick attended Harford Community College in Bel Air, Maryland where he was introduced to Jennie Towner through the My College Success Network, a student empowerment program at HCC, after his academic coach connected them through a mutual interest in horses. As a result, Nick began his equestrian career with Chris and Kevin Boniface from Bonita Farm where he became an exercise rider. Nick now works for Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher and strives to inspire kids to pursue their passions and to follow their dreams no matter how far away they may seem. We are grateful to have him on the team as a mentor who can connect with our students and share his story and guidance.

Dominick "Nick" Merritt, Mentor
Grace Heidenreich, Intern Summer 2024

Originally from Massachusetts and now working toward a degree in Public Health at the University of South Florida, Grace spends most of her year riding and showing in Ocala, FL and is working to develop her own farm, ABC Equestrian LLC. Following in her older sister's footsteps, Grace was on a horse before she could walk, growing up competing in the hunter and equitation rings before finding her place in the jumper ring. Grace enjoys spending hands on time with her horses, going on adventures with her dog, Peter, and can often be found cooking a homemade meal at the end of her day. Grace’s focus this summer will be to create a Health & Wellness curriculum for our students, with an emphasis on tools to help our students with their physical and emotional wellbeing. Grace is a welcome addition to our team this summer, and we hope to keep her involved during the school year as she finishes her degree. 


Mimi is a sophomore at Brown University and has been a competitive hunter/jumper rider for nearly her entire life. She rides out of her family’s Baxter Hill farm and is currently ranked in the FEI top 100 showjumpers and was named the “FEI Rising Star” award winner in 2023. Mimi and her family are committed to ensuring that horse shows are inclusive and accessible to riders from all backgrounds. Mimi will be working remotely this summer to help us with a variety of tasks from helping to develop summer reading activities for students to bolstering our marketing and outreach programs. Many of our partner riding programs are looking forward to virtual sessions with Mimi when she can share many of her experiences with horses and accomplishments (both in school and in the saddle) with our students this summer.  

Mimi Gochman, Intern Summer 2024
Sophie Gochman, Intern Summer 2023

Currently a junior at Harvard University, Sophie is working remotely over the summer and during her school year to help us with building our educational programs as well as researching and writing grants. Sophie is an accomplished show jumper whose competition results include an individual gold medal at the North American Youth Championships in 2019 and team gold at the FEI Nations Jumping Nations Cup Youth Final in Belgium that same year. Sophie has been instrumental in advocating for inclusion and equity in the horse show world, including her family’s Gochman Grant for the USEF Pony Finals and her own personal activism for increased representation of BIPOC in equestrian sports. We are excited to have Sophie on board, as she offers a fresh perspective and sense of passion about our mission.

Our Board

Saddle Up Scholars is grateful for our board members who lend their time and expertise to our success

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