When Beth Meredith graduated from Centre College in 1976, she had no idea where her degrees in French and English would take her. But despite that uncertainty, she’s managed to create two successful—though very different—careers for herself: one in the horse industry and one in travel.
Meredith had been riding horses all her life, and although it wasn’t what she planned to do long term, her first job after leaving Centre was breaking horses. Over time she did about every job there was to do on a horse farm, eventually leading to her to spending more than two decades as the stallion booker for W.T. Young’s Overbrook Farm in Lexington.
At the farm’s peak, Meredith managed eight stallions and scheduled more than 600 mares during the six-month annual breeding period. Her most famous charge was the racehorse Storm Cat, a Thoroughbred stallion whose breeding fee at the height of his stud career was $500,000, and as the highest-priced stud in the world required a 24-hour guard.
“At the farm I was always thinking on the fly because it was so critical for the farms to get their mares in on time. It was stressful but I enjoyed it,” she says.
But when Overbrook closed in 2009, Meredith found herself in search of a new career. She had always enjoyed traveling when her work schedule permitted, so working in the travel industry seemed to be the perfect way to combine the skills she’d gained, both at Centre and at Overbrook Farm, and her passions. That’s when her old friend Hank Phillips ’76, former president of the National Tour Association, suggested a school in San Francisco that provides tour director certifications.
Once she was certified, the school helped her find a contract position, and because she spoke the language, she began conducting tours in France.
“I love doing the tours,” she says. “So far they’ve been mostly in Provence, but have also included another trip that does Paris and Normandy and parts of Northern France, too.”
And much like the work she did at Overbrook, directing tours can be stressful and demanding, but also very satisfying. And every trip is different.
Meredith says her groups are English-speaking travelers from the U.S., Canada and Britain. As tour director, she confirms all reservations at restaurants and hotels, arranges for transportation and solves the myriad problems that might occur for the individuals in the group.
And recently Meredith was hired full-time by the same company, so she will begin training to conduct tours all over the world.
“It’s been a bit of an accidental career. You have to use your skills where they fit,” Meredith says. “Your skills work better if they’re somehow combined with your passions.”