North Salem, N.Y.—May 12
Louise Serio and Rock Harbor were named grand hunter champions after dominating the High Performance Working Hunter Division on Wednesday during the first week of the Old Salem Farm Spring Horse Shows, running May 10-15 and May 17-22 at Old Salem Farm in North Salem, N.Y.
Serio and Rock Harbor, a 9-year-old chestnut warmblood gelding owned by Jennifer Burger, started the high performance working hunter division on a high note on Tuesday with a win over fences and second place under saddle. They returned on Wednesday to win the final over-fences class and the handy on scores of 89 and 87.
“He was really good yesterday, but he was spectacular today,” said Serio. “We’ve been together since he was a pre-green horse, so we know each other well. He has become so brave and fun—it’s really rewarding to have a horse you started at pre-green go to the high performance.”
While Rock Harbor has a clear connection with Serio in the competition ring, “Harry,” as he’s called around the barn, is a special horse for Burger.
“When he arrived at the barn the first time, I was out of town,” said Burger. “The girls that greeted him told me he needed a barn name and when I asked what he looked like, they told me he was handsome and his coloring was just like Prince Harry. So, Harry it was.”
Burger brought Rock Harbor into Serio’s string at Derbydown five years ago with intentions of having the horse move up the levels.
“When I get a horse, I love to do the whole thing—from the pre-green on—with the goal always being to get to the four-foot level,” said Burger. “It doesn’t usually happen, but it’s so exciting when it does. This is extra special because Louise has taken him the whole way.”
When asked what it was like watching her horse in the ring this week, Burger responded, “Yesterday was fantastic, but that first round today was one of the those rounds that happens maybe once out of a hundred trips and you wouldn’t change a thing.”
Over the past several years, Serio let Rock Harbor take his time and she always planned to let him decide whether he would keep moving up.
“We didn’t know what his ability was going to be as far as scope and stride, but he just keeps coming up with more and more,” she said. “He has a wonderful front end—his knees are always super high. His jumping style is beautiful, and he is actually better now as a high performance horse than he was over the lower jumps. He does it easily and is great at it.”
Reserve champion honors in the high performance hunter division were presented to Sandy Ferrell and Imperial, owned by Stephanie Bulger. They earned fourth place under saddle and two second-place ribbons over fences, as well as second over the handy course.
See full results from the Old Salem Farm Spring shows, which run May 10-15 and May 17-22.