A Show Ring
Matt and Carly Sereni
Photograph by Josh Gruetzmacher.
Carly and Matt Sereni overlooking Sterling View Farm
Photograph by Josh Gruetzmacher.
es, old fashioned romance does exist.
Matt and Carly Sereni live a nonstop life, Matt
as a trainer and Carly as amateur rider. Armed
with an undeniable respect and love for each
other, a passion for horses, has led them on an exciting journey.
Matt 31 and Carly 30 knew of each other from an early age;
as both were from Santa Clara County and grew up showing
ponies and competing against each other. But As luck would
have it a random mutual friend from high school initiated a
meeting that would change the life of a then 16-year-old Matt.
“I had gone to grade school with Brenden and he had a
crush on one of Carly’s friends, and she said that she could
hook him up with her friend if he could get Matt Sereni to
come hang out with Carly and her friends.” Matt said. “That
September / October 2016
all happened in high school….high school sweethearts.”Their
story began at that day, thanks to Brenden and Carly’s deal.
Matt was always surrounded by horses as the son of two
professionals, however for Carly, it came as somewhat of a
surprise. Carly lived in North Carolina until the age of five,
then Texas and finally California. Yet again a twist of fate led
her to her first riding lesson.
“I actually took my first riding lesson because my neighbor
was going to the Menlo Circus Club for a lesson and she was
scared so her mom said why don’t you go with her?” Carly
explained. “I said sure, that was the first time that I had a
“Katherine my cousin, was already riding there with Jill
Hamilton, but beyond that I had no idea my that my extended
family was into horses to the extent that they
were. I knew my family had a ranch and rode
Western, I had no idea that my family was into
Show Jumping.” Carly explained.
On Carly’s father’s side of the family five
members were extremely competitive in the
show ring. Little did young Carly know that
her future marriage would join two multigeneration equestrian families deeply rooted
in equestrian sport.
On Matt’s side his father was a great
Western rider and judge and his mother a
“My dad was into rodeo,” Matt told us. “He
was into Steer Wrestling, and really big with
the Cutting horses and then he was a judge and
held five cards including Arabians, Morgans,
Quarter Horses and Reining. My brother did
roping horses and bareback broncs, but never
got into this style. He always made fun of me
and called it the ‘funny pants’.”
“My grandpa, my mom’s dad, he was into
horses, he was the one that exposed my mom
to horses, and got the truck and trailer and
took my mom and aunt up and down shows
with Western and Quarter horses. So I give
Grandpa credit on my moms side.” Matt said,
“My parents met through horses too. I was
always exposed to other things, I was really
fast; so soccer I was good at, I was lead off
batter, I really wanted to be a football player,
but I never got bigger.”he laughed. My parents
pushed me in other directions but I always
Matt had a exceedingly successful beginning
Walk This Way (Ernie) and Carly. Photograph by Josh Gruetzmacher.
to his career as a Junior rider. In 2001 he gained Individual
/ B Team Gold Medal at the Junior Young Riders, riding horse who took care of him and taught Matt to come round
Charon and in 2003 he won the ASPCA Maclay National the turn, not touch his mouth, soften his elbows, and to let go.
Championship aboard Fare Niente.
Fast forward to Matt the trainer based at Sterling View
“I don’t want to belittle the Maclay Finals at all; but I think Farm, and letting go is still front and forward “It is one of the
the Young Riders was a bigger deal, in the sense that you hardest things for me to teach. Looking back, as riders we want
are responsible for your team, and there is that pressure that to come around the turn we try to be so perfect, and we want
you don’t want to let your teammates down, your Zone, you to hold and wait until we see a distance, and it doesn’t work. So
want to represent California. “Of course,” he continued, “the I remember that light bulb ‘ah ha’ moment, it happened to me
Maclay was a big deal and a final accomplishment. I started at the Young Riders, coming round the corner in the warm up
going back East when I was 13 and it took me until my last ring, as I was yelled at to Let Go.” Matt explained. “So that’s
junior year to put it together.”
where I learned to not hold and look for the distance, but to
In the Maclay Matt felt that he had learned a great deal go forward and it will show itself.”
and was finally now able to ride for himself without putting
pressure on himself and not doing it for someone else such as
a trainer. In the Young Riders Matt believed his success was
due to riding the amazing little stallion, Charon, an amazing
Carly an amateur rider however, looks to other riders to
be inspired, such as Jenny Karazissis and Mandy Porter, and
believes that in this sport is really easy to get overwhelmed
with and be drawn in by disappointments. For her, a realistic
approach is essential to enjoy the sport.
September / October 2016
Matt and Carly’s Wedding at Sterling View Farm. Photograph by Josh Gruetzmacher.
“As a Junior, I think I had a lot of unrealistic goals, and it
could get discouraging. I found that I was working really hard
and wanted it so bad, but that doesn’t mean what I was after
was realistic. So after my Junior years, I wanted to ride for
myself and have my own successes, so I set goals that were
challenging – you are never guaranteed to win anything – but
for myself, and to stay motivated.”
“That keeps me working hard and much more focused. With
Walk This Way (aka Ernie), I never anticipated doing anything
that I’ve done with him. I just wanted to bring along my own
horse, I wanted to figure out what it took to get a green horse
in the ring and experienced, I wanted that for myself. I started
setting little goals; from being consistent, to being champion
at a horse show, to winning the Nor Cal Senior Medal Finals,
to being year-end A/O Champion, then it was Devon and
now the USHJA International Hunter Derby Finals. I just
kept upping the bar with the same horse.” Carly explained.
it made sense to find a place to call home.
Since she was a little girl, all Carly had wanted to do was be
at the barn, to able to go out and see her horses whenever she
wanted, and especially at night. That was an important goal to
her, even if it was just to walk out and see the horses sleeping.
Carly wanted to find somewhere that she could have peace
of mind for herself and for everybody that may own horses on
their premises. To be able to check on the horses and know
that they would only be away from their eyes for just a short
amount of time, is priceless to Carly.
Matt on the other hand was used to living at the barn,
since as a child that’s what he did. His dad was the manager
of Fremont Hills Country Club for 41 years. As a younger
person, he knew he could always go see his pony, but he has
a different perspective about living on property.
“I like getting to the barn early, finishing the day, and then
home. I like to turn it off, and have my personal time.
One of Matt and Carly’s biggest challenges was to find their
out and seeing the horses all the time, but I’m a
dream home and barn. The search for the perfect property
than Carly. She can’t get enough of it by about
began; as between them they had 16 horses, so to have to pay
I turn that off and recharge my batteries for
board on that many horses was just not worth it. Financially,
the next day.” Matt explained.
Matt and Carly with their ponies, Coin Operated (L). June Bug (R) Photograph by Josh Gruetzmacher.
September / October 2016
“First thing in the morning
I wake up, I turn on the news,
I turn on the lights, I make
coffee and look out at all the
horses. That’s my Sterling
View, When we were looking
at property, our dream was to
sit outside with our morning
coffee and look out at the
horses and look at the Sterling
babies. The name Sterling
View Farm came from Carly’s
stallion Sterling – we just
wanted to look out at all the
Sterling babies.”Matt told us.
With a wedding in their
future they had their work
cut out for them, Matt was
set on having the wedding
on the farm, to him it was
a far more intimate setting
and he wanted to look out
at the property and to know
that was where they got
Lights Out (aka Sterling ), Sterling View Farms is named after the Sereni’s stallion.
married. However the property had been
While searching Matt and Carly knew that they did not in foreclosure and they needed to get some improvements
want to go East, so they began looking within 45 minutes made before the big day.
or and hour from the Woodside/Silicon Valley. Once Over
Farm, an older thoroughbred facility, in Morgan Hill was a
property that they passed on their travels, but alas out of their
budget, so they told their realtor that they wanted something
like that, just smaller. Some time later, after a fruitless search,
they got a call that would change everything for them. The
120 acre Morgan Hill property was in foreclosure and it was
not long after their dream home became a reality Sterling
Rockefeller (Manhattan Snow x Lights Out) at Sterling View Farm
“We took thirteen 40 yard dumpsters out of there; it was
just trash after trash. It was foreclosed on; they couldn’t
afford to do anything to it. We are still chasing our tail, but
it’s getting there.” Matt said.
Their farm has two arenas, a half-mile racetrack, a big
mountain to exercise the horses, and miles of beautiful trails
to ride on. In addition to horses in training, there is also a
fantastic retirement program at the farm.
“It is beyond anything we were imagining,” Carly said. “I
set the vision and foundation for the retirement farm and the
restructuring when we reached a certain amount of horses
at the property. Once it got established, in order to keep
showing, the retirement horses need a full-time person, so
we have an incredible barn manager that lives on site, she
is there all the time, and knows them all so well. I can’t do
it and be on the road, its a bonus when I am there, I just
get to spoil them.”
“Carly oversees the team caring for of all the retired
horses, and I do all the training,” Matt explained. “Carly
doesn’t ride any of the clients’ horses and rides her own as an
amateur. I try to keep my business a little bit smaller, since
the majority of all of my lessons are one-on-one privates.
It’s just me no assistant and really I find that I am a better
teacher one-on-one.The majority of my clients, with us being
in Morgan Hill, come from quite a distance – my closest
comes from Saratoga, which is a half an hour away – if my
clients are showing that much of a commitment to me, I
September / October 2016
want to honor that same commitment
and give them one-on-one attention.
It’s nothing against group lessons they
are effective too. ”
“If people can only come half as
much, being able to ride only two or
three times a week they still get the
same out of their training with Matt.”
The future is bright for Matt and
“I don’t want to speak out of turn.”
Matt said, “Now that we are married
and the goals aren’t as much about
me anymore. I want to raise a family,
and see the kids grow up at the farm
and have little pony riders. I might be
getting ahead of myself, honey,” Matt
said to Carly, which thankfully brought
laughter from both of them, “the farm,
the family, turn them loose and have
fun and go to Pony Finals.”
“Of course I wanted to go to Grand
Prix, and World Cup™ and the
Olympics and all that,” he added. “It’s
not about me as much anymore.”
On a riding level Carly’s goals are
clear too, she simply would like to
be a familiar name, in going back
East she recognizes all the names,
she would like to one day be one of those names. And more
importantly to her is being known as a good horseman.
“I really love my horses, I don’t to just want to be a show
rider, a pretty rider. I take a lot of pride in being associated with
Walk This Way and the relationships I have with my horses,
I never want to lose that, this is my goal.” Carly explained.
On a personnel level Carly had concerns, for the time
being, on her ability to be able to watch her future children
learn to ride.
“Beginners make me nervous,” Carly laughed. “I just
want to see cute pictures, but I don’t want to watch. I’d be
a nervous wreck!”
Matt and Carly really have had a busy life in their almost 15
years together, a great story of equestrian related connection,
both a new home and a wedding; but when it comes to their
personal equestrian highlights each had their own. For Carly
going to Devon was hers, especially when it was also their
honeymoon. They chose to drive across the country with
Walk This Way in tow on a two-and-half day trip there
and back, each taking turn to sleep while the other drove.
And for Matt going to the Young Riders and completing
four clear rounds still remains his greatest moment. Again
September / October 2016
Matt and Carly Sereni. Photograph by Josh Gruetzmacher.
Carly highlighted the need to turn everything into a learning
experience and an education to becoming a better horseman.
On this year’s visit to Devon they traveled by air with Ernie,
again something new to add to their bank of learning.
The Pony Finals, a great life on the farm and growing the
farm feature in their long-term goals. And Ernie (Walk This
Way) has his part to play too; teaching their children to ride,
winning lots of medal finals and sponsoring a perpetual trophy.
Both Matt and Carly had some wise words for the next
generation in the horse industry.
“Work hard,” Matt said. “Don’t by any means think this
sport is easy, it’s so humbling. Not that kids think it’s easy and
you can just go get the right horse, but you better be prepared
to go work your ass off !”
“Be hands on, be a part of your horse, not only on top of it
and in the show ring, be a part of their life,” Carly said. “Know
your horse, not just the riding part of it, build a relationship
with your horse. What they do for us is special, they deserve it!”
Matt agreed. “Your horse will perform and work better for
you, like Carly said. It might sound a little corny, but form
that bond with your horse and when push comes to shove in
the ring they will give you that little extra, I swear.”