In honor of our annual Women’s Issue, our publisher Jennifer Hunt Murty invited a select group of leading businesswomen from various disciplines within the equestrian world to talk with us about the industry and our very special community. In these pages, they share their stories and valuable insights on building a successful business in the Horse Capital of the World™.
Catherine J. Merrill
Law Office of Catherine J. Merrill, P.A.
Catherine brings a wealth of legal and business experience to her role as attorney and adviser. She began her career in Chicago, specializing in personal injury, and soon realized that the most rewarding part of her work was being able to use her passion to advocate for her clients.
As a competitive equestrian, horse lover and farm owner, Catherine recognizes the challenges facing today’s horsemen and women and knew she could apply the same passion she had for personal injury victims to her fellow equestrians who need legal advice or representation, not just with equine matters but everyday legal advice as well.
“I saw the need for attorneys who understand the industry and also had a passion for the sport. For instance, if I get a call from a potential client who discovers their newly purchased horse has an old suspensory injury, what does that mean? As a horsewoman, I understand the significance. Back in the day, horse sales were accomplished with a handshake and a wire transfer. Things have evolved so that now many states have consumer protection laws which apply to the sale of horses. My goal, with my clients, is to not only represent them, but to educate them on their rights and how to conduct equine transactions in a safe, legal way.”
Catherine stresses the importance of expert help where legal matters are concerned and explains that her biggest challenge is conveying the importance of not taking such matters into your own hands. “Horse people like to do things for themselves,” she offers. “But, often times, it ends up costing them more when they do.”
She makes her home on a horse farm in northwestern Marion County, where she lives with her husband, two cattle dogs, two horses and four chickens, as well as a miniature horse and a miniature donkey. She is an avid equestrian and competes in the adult hunter division locally and across the Southeast. She is pictured with her Holsteiner mare, Amara, who has had great success in the hunter ring.
What she loves best about the Ocala area is the friendliness of everyone and the social nature of the community. Her motto is a quote from Olympic athlete Donovan Bailey: “Follow your passion, be prepared to work hard and sacrifice, and, above all, don’t let anyone limit your dreams.”