By Alexis Meadows
Mention the names Lane Clarke and Mickey Hayden to show jumping equestrians or enthusiasts and several words undoubtedly come to mind: passion, dedication and success. What sets these two esteemed horsemen apart from the rest, however, is a less common but paramount element that very few other barns offer — a resolute partnership encompassing 15 years of tireless work together. Combine this with the familiarity only two best friends can contribute, and it’s no surprise that together they’ve built Mickey Hayden Show Jumping into one of the top barns on the West Coast show jumping circuit.
Lane, a fifth-generation horseman, knew from a young age that a career in the equestrian industry was not only in his blood, but was his greatest passion. Both of Lane’s parents are accomplished horse trainers and supported his desire to pursue the sport. The partnership began during Lane’s junior career as a working student when he quickly became one of Mickey’s top junior riders. Recognizing the young man’s talent, commitment and outstanding values, Mickey hired Lane as a professional as soon as he turned 18.
“I’ve always been a very competitive person and single-mindedly focused on my goals once I set them,” Lane said. “I put a lot of thought into who I wanted to train with and dedicate all my efforts to, and Mickey was just as willing to teach me. It’s easy to give 100 percent of your physical and mental skills to someone you have total respect and appreciation for. Mickey’s a passionate teacher and horse trainer and I think we recognized a similar dedicated mindset in each other.”
Describing both himself and Mickey as “loyal to a fault,” Lane’s admiration for his coach and best friend only serves to strengthen the message of genuine love of the sport that has served Mickey Hayden Show Jumping well for over three decades. Likewise, Mickey’s similar attitude towards his training is a core component of his business philosophy: “This is more than a business,” he said. “It’s a place for horsemen and their families to come together, excel and create a fulfilling lifestyle. While excellence is always a goal in this sport, it’s the people and the horses that matter.”
With clients and Lane racking up victories on a growing scale, the steady, consistent strength of their friendship outside of the horse world keeps their working relationship as business partners strong and stable. After his recent win in the Blenheim EquiSports $40,000 Spring Classic II Grand Prix in April, Lane was quick to thank Semira de Salieu’s owners (the Borgers family and Brooklane Farms), his own family and Mickey for continued support in and out of the ring. Another shining example of the outstanding person that Mickey recognized early on, Lane is sincerely appreciative for the opportunities he’s given and the animals he rides.
“Mickey and I work well together because of our similarities,” Lane explained. “We’re both inspired to come to work and give it our best every day. We always choose to be fair to the horses, the clients and each other over monetary or individual gain. To have someone like that who shares the same mindset is a great source of strength.”
Although they’ve traveled East to Lexington to compete in the NAJYRC, where client Charlotte Gadbois was fourth overall, and to Las Vegas for the World Cup Finals, Mickey and Lane have fabulous competitive options close to home. Mickey Hayden Show Jumping’s continued support of Blenheim EquiSports’ show series throughout the year is a reflection of Mickey and Lane’s recognition of similar integrity in the company’s management and operations. “We like all of the Blenheim shows, not only because of their great course designers, management and competition, but also because Robert [Ridland] and Stephanie [Wheeler] are wonderful at listening to riders’ needs,” Lane said.
One example of this attention to customers can be found in the discount of young horse stalls and entry fees. “As trainers, we expressed the difficulty of bringing along young horses to shows and giving them more experience when the expenses were too high to offset,” Lane said. “After we explained this to Robert and Stephanie, the very next season Blenheim had discounted stalls and reduced entry fees to encourage young horse attendance and bring down our costs. Those types of things really do make a difference, and are one of the reasons we, and people on a national and international basis, come to show at Blenheim competitions.”
Despite all of the tireless work and endless dedication these two horsemen put toward their business, they find it just as natural to extend their passionate attitudes into their personal lives and friendship. Lane and his wife, Jennifer, recently became new parents to daughter Emerson, and Mickey can be found enjoying her easygoing and mellow nature almost as often as her proud parents. Family is a prominent priority in both of their lives, and a frequent topic of discussion when the two friends are enjoying other favorite activities together such as going to the movies and discovering new culinary treats.
Lane summed it up best when he said, “I really value Mickey’s belief and support in me, and have dedicated myself toward reciprocating this belief through my commitment to our business and our friendship. We each give 100 percent toward everything we do, and at the end of the day, all anyone can ask is that you give all that you’ve got.”