May. 12,2015
By Pam Maley & Jackie McFarland

Purchased in 1972, Shady Lane Farm in Alamo, CA was originally known as The Horse Farm and home to the Anderson family’s Arabian horses.  It was here that Lindsay Anderson grew up, honed her passion for horses, and at an early age set her riding boots on an equestrian path.  Matt Archer grew up near Fresno and began his journey in the children’s hunter ring, with his riding boots on a similar path.  Both had notable success in their junior and amateur years, amassing an impressive array of medals, trophies, ribbons, and honors.

The tree lined driveway into the farm.

In 2003, after finishing at their respective colleges, these two paths merged.  While continuing to ride, choosing to turn professional, Lindsay and Matt began building their business at Shady Lane Farm, and in 2007 they were married.  Now raising a family of their own on the farm, their journey continues as they pursue their passion.

SLF Bizet, Lindsay, Addi, Matt & Lillie

We asked these two extraordinary equestrians about their farm and their careers, and their answers tell the stories of their backgrounds, passion, hard work and devotion.  


From Lindsay’s perspective:

When your family purchased the property was it a horse farm, or did they turn it into one?     

It was a horse farm.  However, the only structures on the property were the main home and main barn. There were no trees or landscaping. My parents, and later we, improved the property with lots of greenery and other structures.  We are always working on the property’s aesthetic!

An early morning watering of the arena.

Can you share a great memory or story about the farm when you were young?

I have many great memories, but one that sticks out is of professional photographers coming to the property to take pictures of my parents’ Arabian halter horses. The horses were turned out in our front pasture and then one person would cover themselves in a black sheet to "animate" the ‘Arabian’ aspect so that the photographer could catch images of the horses with nostrils flared and tails flagged. 


When did you know that you wanted to take it over and pursue your career there?

When I was seven or eight I went to a local schooling show on my pony that I competed in both Western and English. This particular show was an English show and Dr. Bill Nissen was the judge. My mom was a friend and client of Bill’s for nearly 20 years and Bill told her that if I was serious about riding, he would make sure that I was always with the right trainer. He started me with Nancy Patton in Danville and from there he helped arrange for me to ride with Karen (Healey) in southern California.  Bill was always very special to me and I think I owe part of my love of the sport and my decision to take it on as a profession to him. I know he loved that Matt and I started our business at my parents’ farm. 


Riding with Karen Healey in Southern California, did you keep your horses at home in the Bay Area and meet Karen at shows?

I started with her when I was about thirteen.  Initially, I had my horse at home and would fly down, take lesson and show on horses that she had.  It wasn't until June of my last junior year, about four years later, that my parents agreed to buy a horse with Karen that we kept down there. 

I was so incredibly fortunate. Karen found me the horse of my dreams, Lotus. We went on to qualify for the Medal and Maclay Finals that summer.  In the fall at Indoors I won the warm up class at Harrisburg and was the last to get bumped from the Top 25 of the Medal Finals. He was also my mount a few years later when I won the CPHA Amateur Finals with help from Gry and Duncan McFarlane. 


What are 3 things you learned from Karen that you have put to use in your own teaching and coaching?

Karen is a huge advocate for disciplined and meticulous flatwork. Matt and I work hard to carry that over into our program. We truly believe that if the flatwork is good then the jumps will be easy, and that is something that I learned from Karen. 

Another thing I learned was the importance of being physically fit. Karen was never afraid to tell us that we needed to supplement our riding with other strength training. And to this day I continue to work on my core strength and fitness. As much as I can, I encourage this with my clients as well. 

Finally, Karen was a stickler for position. She taught us, and I teach this as well, that correct position or equitation is in place because form follows function. If you can put yourself in a position that makes you most effective, then you should do that. There are so many unknown variables in riding that there is no reason not to control those that you can control!


What are your 3 favorite things about your barn?

First, I am so grateful to my parents for allowing us to work out of their tremendous property. Matt and I have worked incredibly hard to make it into the top class show jumping facility that it is today, but we never could have done that without the support and guidance of my parents. 

A birds eye view of the arena from the barn office.

We are also incredibly grateful for the amazing clients that we have.  It has taken over a decade to get where we are now, but the group that we have truly appreciate our goals for them as well as our personal goals as riders. Matt and I really believe in teaching the sport as it evolves and part of that includes both of us continuing to grow as riders and teachers ourselves. Nothing in this world is static and show jumping isn't an exception. We work hard to continue to improve and stay up with the sport so that we can pass that knowledge along to our clients. 

Finally, our group is terrific because they come out to ride and enjoy their horses. Right now, all of our clients groom their own horses and wouldn't want it any other way. They know everything about their horses and they enjoy them. There isn't much drama at the barn - and we love it that way!


Matt & the Girls and Sweetie

From Matt’s perspective:

We understand that you grew up riding in NorCal.  What are some influences that you bring with you to the barn today?

Growing up I spent a lot of time riding by myself, something that I try to encourage our students to do.  Lindsay and I are committed to turning out horsemen, not just riders. 

Through high school I kept a horse at a beautiful racehorse training barn West of Fresno.  I almost always rode out on the track.  That is were I learned the importance of a forward thinking, and a forward moving horse.  Issues with horses are just like issues in life, 99% of problems can be fixed by just going forward. 


When did you know that you wanted to pursue horses as a career?

I worked my way through college grooming and hauling horses. My first summer, I spent two weeks working at Spruce Meadows for Willow Tree Farm, the Thomas family. The weather was horrible, I was completely in over my head, but those two weeks changed my life. My eyes were opened to the very pinnacle of show jumping. The level of talent and professionalism shared by everyone at that incredible property is the gold standard. I knew from that summer, I wanted to become a professional and work towards that standard. 


What are the 3 top things you learned about buying and selling from your time in Europe?

#1- Your name is your brand! Every deal you make is a reflection upon you and your business. Honesty and transparency have to be the foundation if you are working towards long-term relationships with buyers and fellow professionals. 


#2- You have to hustle!  In this age of "real time communication" customers want phone calls, videos, and contracts almost immediately.   It’s challenging with our young family and training barn, but we do our best to stay on top of the communication.


#3- You need approved x-rays! The majority of US vets are very particular concerning radiographs.  I have passed on dozens of top sale prospects because of questionable X-rays.  These horses were all sound, and jumping in sport. So, every horse we import has at least one US vet approved set of X-rays. 


What are your 3 favorite things about your barn? 

#1- Its size. With only 18 stalls I know everything about every horse. I can manage their diet and work schedule on a daily basis. You also really get to know each horse’s personality, their likes and dislikes, and how their minds work. 


#2- The family atmosphere. The barn is really an extension of our family. We have been fortunate to have some customers stay with us for 10 years.  They have seen us as a young couple, were with us when we were married, supported us through two pregnancies and now are around as we raise our two daughters. We are committed to their riding goals, and they have given us tremendous support and opportunity over the years in return. 


#3- High standards.  I am so grateful that I get to go to work where we all set a very high standard every day. From the horse care to landscaping, we all take great pride in Shady Lane Farm. 


Can you share a great memory or story about the farm?

I would have to say that my favorite memory of the barn is not just one story, but rather a hundred stories of our building and changing the property. From pouring concrete to screwing in roof panels, we have developed the property as a family. There have been countless hours of hard work, a fair amount of colorful language, and a ton of laughter put into Shady Lane Farm.  

An SLF horse grazing in one of three irrigated grass pastures.