Each week, EN’s Rising Stars series spotlights an up-and-coming event rider under the age of 15. Kate Samuels introduces us to this week’s Star, Hayley Clark.
From Kate: EN’s Rising Stars is a new weekly series about up and coming riders in the sport of 3-Day Eventing who are exceptional in their performances and personalities. Spotlighting riders under the age of 15, the series is meant to call attention to the next generation of talent before they even become Young Riders. Have a child, sibling or student who you think deserves some notice and praise? Tip me at [email protected]!
Top photo: Hayley & Benny competing at their first recognized event, photo by Merrick Studios
Name: Hayley Clark
Hometown: Garden City, Missouri, Area IV
Horse: Bold Impression (Benny), 6 year old, 15.3 hand grey thoroughbred gelding
Level of Competition: Beginner Novice
How did you get started in Eventing? “Originally I competed in 4H, but in 2007 I realized that I was really bored with it, and my neighbor did Eventing, so I tried it out. I did my first event in 2008 with a pony I had (Misty) who was a great little jumper but a bit tough on the flat. I evented her for a year and half, culminating in going to the American Eventing Championships in 2009 at Beginner Novice. After that, I competed my friend Lacey Messick’s older horse, Freeman’s Folly (Brego), at the Novice level, and we went to the AECs again in 2011, except this time for Novice. I moved up and did my first Training level event this spring on Brego, but he is really old, and he sustained an injury at the event, so we decided to retire him.”
“I found Benny in August of this year in Liberty, Missouri. He was off the track and he had about 8 months of dressage training, and he had barely started jumping. He had never gone cross country jumping. He is such a fast learner, he just started jumping and doing courses so easily and so quickly. He’s been to a few schooling shows this fall, and then we did our first recognized event at Heritage Park HT a few weeks ago, at Beginner Novice. He’s amazing, to go from nothing to a real event horse that quickly. The plan is for him to be my Young Rider horse, and I think he’s got the talent to take me up the levels easily.”
Recent accomplishments: “I think my biggest accomplishment was completing my first Training level, but getting Benny and taking him to an event and developing him has also been a really amazing experience. I also was really proud to be able to take two different horses to the American Eventing Championships, you feel really accomplished when you qualify and compete against the best of the best in the whole country.”
Favorite thing about eventing? “What draws me to the sport is the XC; I’m a complete adrenaline junky. I also love that everybody in the community is humble and nice, too. It’s such a tough sport, and the people are so nice. You can think you are the best in the world, and then go out and have a silly stop on cross country. I’ve been in the winning position after dressage, and then gotten eliminated at jump three, and that kind of thing just makes people really down to earth, and I like that.”
Plans for the future? “Next year I would like to move Benny up to Novice, and maybe move up to Training at the end of the year. I just started riding with Julie Wolfert, and she’s amazing. She went to Virginia for a few years to study and compete at the Advanced level, and I think she’ll be able to help me a lot. I would like to do Young Riders, and of course it has always been my dream to ride in the Olympics and be a professional. Right now, I’m focusing on the journey with Benny, and I hope I can go far.”