Update 7/22: Some details have been revised for accuracy.
Our next Spotlight for the upcoming 2022 Menlo Charity Horse Show celebrates a man crafting one extremely important element for those in the Jumper ring: Menlo’s Jumper Course Designer, Alan Wade of Tipperary, Ireland.
The internationally acclaimed course designer is highly respected by top riders, and currently designs for several of the most prestigious shows around the world. His designs are known to test the horse’s skill set across all elements – short, long, tall, and wide.
Alan Wade grew up immersed in the world of upper-level horse sport. When he was young, he could be found trailing his father, fellow course designer and international show jumping competitor Tommy Wade, at horse shows throughout Ireland. Tommy Wade’s legendary show jumping career was over before Alan was born, and he turned his attention to course building. Alan was roped in to help at local shows from a very early age, and grew up learning the craft from his father and the community of international course designers around the world. Tommy Wade was Chef d’Equipe of the Irish team and participated in over 30 Nations Cup competitions worldwide.
Alan Wade is now an FEI-Level 4 Course Designer. Alan has been course designing since he was twelve years old, and has been chosen to design courses at many of the world’s most important shows, including Dublin CSIO in Ireland and The American Gold Cup – Old Salem. His accolades also include designing for Championships and Olympic Trials-Wellington, World Top 10 Final at Gucci Masters-Paris, Olympia World Cup-London, WEF Finale-Wellington, Thunderbird World Cup-Vancouver, NAJYRC 2015 Kentucky, the Royal Winter Fair, Toronto, the World Cup Final in Omaha, and WEG in Tryon. His courses have been described by many as “subtly difficult”, requiring a horse with scope and bravery, a horse that is careful, a horse that is able to shorten and lengthen stride, and a horse with fight.
Have you ever attended a Menlo Charity Horse Show before or will this be your first time joining us?
“No, this will be my first time visiting, and I will be traveling from Ireland to attend.”
What advice would you give to a Menlo rider before they jump one of your courses?
“Normally, my courses would be considered flowing and they will be suitable for the breeds and type of class. It should be an enjoyable course and something to look forward to.”
What is your style when designing a course?
“I’m not a fan of tricks,” he said. “It will be fair, it will be jumpable, and it will respect the horse, but if you make a mistake there will be a consequence. I never try to trick a horse into doing something stupid. The track should be there in front of them, and they should be able to solve it.” According to Wade, what separates the winners from the losers is that extra 5 percent. “It’s not technique or ability, it’s the horse’s will to win,” he said. “I see it every day, horses helping out riders at the very top level. The most important part of my principles is to understand horses. I am not afraid to build big and difficult, but I never want to build traps for any horse. At the end of the day, my job is also to look after these horses.”
What are you most looking forward to attending Menlo as the Course Designer for the first time?
“I have heard from so many that Menlo is a very special show. The horse show organizers have asked me on a couple occasions to attend. It is known to be a great organization, the ring is nice and jump materials are good. I am really looking forward to joining, I am excited to participate in the event and design the course.”
We are thrilled to have such a spectacular talent join us this year in the Jumper ring for the 2022 Menlo Charity Horse Show. Make sure to join us for the $50,000 Stephen Sliver Grand Prix on Saturday, August 13th on the Grass Jumper Field.
About the Organization
The Menlo Charity Horse Show, a 501 (c) (3) organization, recognized as a USEF Heritage Competition, supports Vista Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired by producing a premiere equestrian event while educating the community on the issues of the visually impaired.
As an equestrian media outlet focused entirely on American horse sport, EQuine AMerica showcases the USA’s equestrian talent (both two-legged and four) in the disciplines of para dressage, dressage, hunters, jumpers, and eventing. We support and promote our nation’s fantastic equine events, products, services, artists, authors, science/tech, philanthropy, and nonprofits through our online magazine and social media platforms. Our mission is to offer you interesting/inspiring short and long-form content in a format that’s beautiful, readable, and relatable.