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Devon: New event, bigger purse

Many local riders will be competing this year. The fairgrounds for all - rides and food - is unchanged.

Louise Serio with Aeropostal . She will be joined in the competition by about five of her riding students.
Louise Serio with Aeropostal . She will be joined in the competition by about five of her riding students.Read moreBONNIE WELLER / Inquirer Staff Photographer

The 112-year tradition of the Devon Horse Show and Country Fair will kick up its horseshoes this year on Thursday and end June 1.

An addition this year is the United States Hunter Jumper Association International Hunter Derby. The derby offers a prize of $10,000 and will take place during the events next Sunday, beginning at 6:30 p.m.

One of the top local riders competing in the Hunter Derby is Louise Serio of Kennett Square. She was named as the Chronicle of the Horse's professional world championship hunter rider in 2001 and the Chronicle's show hunter of the year in 2006. Serio is also cofounder and past president of the American Hunter-Jumper Foundation Inc. and president of Derbydown Inc. a boarding, showing and training business on her farm in Kennett Square.

Serio, 54, who specializes in hunter and jumper events, will also ride in the regular working hunter event on Castle Rock, a Dutch warmblood horse, and in the first-year green hunter event on Lafayette, a German warmblood horse. The regular working hunter and first-year green hunter events begin at 8 a.m. May 26. The "green" events are for less experienced horses.

When not traveling to approximately 28 weeks of horse shows each year, Serio carries on the family legacy of horse instruction on her spacious farm, which was once her parents' farm in Kennett Square, home to about 35 horses.

Serio said that perhaps five of her riding students would also compete, in events such as amateur owner hunters and jumpers, pony hunters, and adult amateur jumpers.

Serio has shown horses and ponies in Devon since she was 4. Though she missed the Devon Horse Show last year when she traveled to Africa with her daughter, Serio said she is glad to be back this year.

Serio enjoys the hunter derbies because she said the courses are more challenging with faster and tighter turns and jumps. The courses include 12 to 15 jumps and 10 to 12 jumps in the second round ranging from three to four feet wide. She said she appreciated seeing so many spectators.

"It's really a lot of fun and is kind of the grand prix for hunters," she said. "I look forward to the competition at Devon Horse Show each year. It's important as a competitor to see where you are in the profession."

Show spokeswoman Sara Cavanaugh said the International Hunter Derby is harder than any other jumper event because it is a two-round class, while most hunter classes are one round.

"They have to be very good twice and do two different types of courses. The classic course is longer with fences and difficult striding, and in the second handy hunter course they have to be able to do a number of different things, not just canter around and jump fences," Cavanaugh said.

The event is limited to 20 horses in a hunter classic course that is generally a little bigger and harder than the normal course, Cavanaugh said. The top 12 riders from that round will compete in a handy hunter course that includes trotting fences.

Other local riders in the International Hunter Derby are Kimberley Simmons and Rachel Geiger of Malvern, Cavanaugh said.

Also new this year is an increase in the Budweiser Devon Grand Prix award from $75,000 to $100,000. The Grand Prix takes place at 8 p.m. May 29.

Proceeds from the show benefit Bryn Mawr Hospital. Cavanaugh said last year's show raised $308,000 for monitoring equipment in the emergency department.

"It's a very important charity. A huge number of volunteers work on the fair who are all interested in keeping Bryn Mawr Hospital one of the best in the country. Some volunteers are also involved in the hospital," Cavanaugh said.

The 11-day festival includes a midway with games and rides such as a Ferris wheel and a merry-go-round. The fair has an array of food, including homemade fudge, and boutiques of sporting clothes, equestrian-inspired items, arts and crafts, jewelry, and antiques. The Devon Derby Booth will sell raffle tickets for a new Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo or Chrysler Sebring, fur coats, jewelry, bicycles, and gift certificates. Winners will be announced May 31.

Devon 101


The Devon Horse Show and Country Fair opens Thursday and runs through June 1.

The midway opens at 10 a.m. (11 a.m. Sunday). Horse-show events start as early as 8 a.m. and as late as 8 p.m.


Route 30 and Dorset Road, Devon.


General-admission prices are $7 for adults, $5 for seniors, and $3 for children under 12. The ticket information line is 610-688-2554.


is competitive. There's a show lot at the corner of Route 30 and Dorset, that costs $10 daily (but $20 on Grand Prix Night, May 29). Several local businesses and residents rent parking spots in their lots and driveways at varying rates.

On weekends and Memorial Day, you can park free in the lot at SEPTA's Devon station.

Getting there painlessly

: If you live near SEPTA's R5 line, that's the way to go. The Devon station is about a five-minute walk from the horse-show grounds.

The complete schedule:

There are scores of events. For a day-by-day listing, go to