Margaret Clayton

Owner and Trainer

Born in Atlanta, Georgia, Margaret attended riding camp when she was 6 and fell in love with horses.  Her parents signed her up for riding lessons, and for many years she spent hours and hours at a backyard barn called “Baker’s Acres.”  She and the others would spend all day grooming, riding and listening to stories about horses from their mentor, Ms. Jan Serafy.

Over time, Margaret worked hard and earned the respect of her elders; in turn, they rewarded her with the opportunity to help out with the green horses and to mentor the younger students. Margaret loved riding at Baker’s Acres, but longed to do more with horses. Eventually she convinced her parents to let her start riding at a nearby show barn, where there were more opportunities to ride and show, and eventually Margaret got her first pony, Sparkle Plenty.

At 13 Margaret moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota, and began riding at Studio Farms. Under Keiri Kaneps’ tutelage she worked the way up to the junior hunters, where she swept the Minnesota Hunter/Jumper Association (MHJA) year-end titles and won numerous AHSA Zone 6 championships. Her true passion was in the equitation ring, however, where she was extremely successful, qualifying for and riding in the USEF/Pessoa Hunter Seat Equitation Medal Final at Harrisburg, and the ASPCA Maclay National Championships.

After high school Margaret attended Mount Holyoke College where she had to put riding aside while she concentrated on her studies. She majored in religious studies, graduated cum laude with honors, and continued on to earn her Master’s Degree at the University of Chicago. Academia ultimately didn’t seem like the right fit, so she gave corporate America a try, working at a Chicago-based marketing firm where she rose to the ranks of Creative Director at Group II Communications.

Then in 2003, a friend asked Margaret to come help her at a horse show one Saturday. Margaret agreed. The weekend was a huge success. A local trainer took note and asked Margaret to consider giving regular Saturday lessons at his barn. Word got out, Margaret’s lesson schedule booked up, and she was having a blast. Those first years working with the kids gave Margaret great satisfaction; she also found that her extensive undergraduate coursework in child psychology came in handy.  Voila, Margaret’s passions of the horses and her interest in childhood psychology and development came together. Eventually Margaret and long-time friend Stephanie Skrodzki went out on their own and started Palladia Farm, LLC.

Her students have won numerous year-end awards on the Illinois Hunter/Jumper Association (IHJA) “A” Circuit and the Northern Illinois Hunter/Jumper Association (NIHJA) local circuit, as well as USEF Zone 5 Championships.  They have also qualified for and ridden in the USEF Pony Finals National Championships, the USEF/Pessoa Hunter Seat Equitation Medal Final at Harrisburg, and the ASPCA Maclay National Championships.