By Lisa Davis Engel
Top hunter trainer Louise Serio of Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, a National Show Hunter Hall of Fame inductee at the prestigious Devon Horse Show, has won multiple hunter championships and most recently, the $100,000 WCHR Peter Wetherill Palm Beach Hunter Spectacular in Wellington. Owner of Derbydown, one of the foremost show hunter barns in the country, Louise is also a leader in the sport, giving back by having served on the board of directors for the USHJA Foundation, the USHJA, the USEF and the American Hunter Jumper Foundation and for 10 years, as head of the AHSA Hunter Committee. She cofounded the World Champion Hunter Rider and also served as a committee member of the High Performance Hunter for International Hunter Derby. Louise is currently the chairman of the National Derby Committee. Sidelines had an opportunity to catch up with this top professional, mother and doting grandmother after a busy competition day in Wellington.
How did you get involved with horses?
My mother taught riding lessons five days a week at the same farm where we live now and we went to the horse shows on weekends. I grew up with horses.
If you weren’t a trainer and rider, what else would you do?
I don’t know if I could choose anything else to do! I really never chose this path, it just took me there.
How did you become so involved with the governance of the sport?
Years ago I was asked by Sally Wheeler to head up the hunter committee for the American Horse Show Association and that was what started me. I really enjoy the governance because I like to be kept informed as to the direction we are headed and help guide it into the future.
What are your goals for the hunter world?
We have a new concept coming out for hunters. It’s a whole new idea to keep the traditional hunter and add back the old-time elements as well as some new elements and make it a team sport. The goal is to keep the hunter divisions fresh while continuing to maintain its traditional elements. We hope it helps to grow the hunter sport.
You’ve had a very successful career. What do you attribute this to?
Surrounding myself with really good people. My team is top notch, my mentors, my friends; I have to give it all to them.
Which person has inspired you the most in life?
Probably my mother. Although she’s been gone about 20 years, she was an amazing individual. As a single mother, she raised my sister and me, worked hard and was brutally honest.
What three things are the most important to you?
My family, which includes my two great kids, my granddaughter and my animals
What is your most memorable experience?
As a kid growing up in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, I never could have imagined in my wildest dreams doing so many things and having traveled to so many places. I am so fortunate.
How do you relax?
My granddaughter relaxes me. She is so much fun.
I just read “My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry” by Fredrik Backman and it was great.
Favorite piece of clothing?
I would say salads. But if you’d look at me, you’d think French fries.
What three traits are most important to you in a person?
Honesty, integrity and sense of humor
What’s the best feeling you have ever had?
Having children and spending time with my granddaughter.
How many weeks of the year do you travel?
Probably 25–30 weeks.
If you had a week off, what would you do?
I love to travel but most of my vacations involve horses. We go to the World Cup, WEG, look at horses, and even when we go on vacations, I usually end up on a horse.
What’s on the top of your bucket list?
I want to take my entire family on a holiday together and I’d also like to do a river cruise from Budapest to Amsterdam.
Do you have a personal motto?
Let’s go to work.