Setting a Classic Handy Hunter Course
Alan Lohman is a rider, trainer and course designer. When he began laying out the courses for the 2017 USHJA International Hunter Derby Championship, he knew he wanted to help the horses show their best.
“My philosophy is I wouldn’t set a fence that I wouldn’t want to jump or ride myself,” he explained. “I go off of feel so much, the flow of the course. Hunters are supposed to be able to gallop and have a smooth track and jump well, so I don’t want a course that’s broken up or rough. I want it to be inviting.”
Alan is based out of his own Lohman Stables in Poolesville, Maryland. He designs courses at major competitions, including the Pin Oak Horse Show, the Pennsylvania National Horse Show, the Hampton Classic and Devon, among others. Of the Derby, he said, “I wanted to set a few different obstacles that would help the judges judge that class: Set some delicate jumps and some more solid jumps, so we can see which horse is the real horse and which ones are not quite as good a jumper as they might appear to be.”
For the Derby, fences were set at heights from 3-foot-9 to 4-foot-1 with two high-option oxers set at 4-foot-6. The fence materials were designed to be inviting, Alan said. “There wasn’t anything very spooky. This is a championship class, so I didn’t want any one fence to determine the class.”
Alan created a classic handy course that would reward the pair that could both show off the gallop and maneuver the handy inside turns. “The trick at the end will be to gallop and turn,” Alan concluded. “And I designed the course for that.”