BY VYLA CARTER
Throughout her life, Jessica (Jessi) Lohman, of Poolesville, MD, has found herself in virtually every corner of the equestrian industry. She rode in the hunters and did fox hunting as a child, competed on judging and equestrians team throughout college, and won national hunter championships in the Adult Amateurs. She has also been a braider for many years, and also a freelance writer for equestrian publications. Today, Lohman now holds a marketing job in the feed industry, and manages and judges horse shows.
Lohman was born into an equestrian family, her dad a farrier and her mother an equine massage therapist. With the help of her one of her father’s customers – Iona Pillion, along with Lohman’s godmother, Sally Lamb, she learned how to ride at a young age. She started out in short stirrup, like most kids, but learned the fundamentals of riding out in the hunt field. She hunted with Blue Ridge Hunt (VA) most of her junior years. “You are out there galloping up and down hills in the woods, jumping everything in sight and you have to learn how to hang on pretty quickly,” Lohman said.
Growing up in Clarke County, VA, Lohman competed in local shows, eventually moving up to rated shows as a young teen. Although she never had a horse of her own in her junior years, she found opportunities riding sales horses in the Children’s Hunters with the help of her trainers Tony Workman and Richard Slocum at Winter Hill Farm in Hillsboro, VA.
During college, Lohman rode on the IHSA team at Virginia Tech and took part in the judging team. She majored in Communications, with the plan to have a job in broadcast journalism, but changed her mind after realizing it is a 24/7 job. Instead, she decided to take the marketing career route. Upon graduating with a major in Communications and a minor in Equine Science, she landed a job in the feed industry in Richmond, VA. She worked for Southern States Cooperative for 17 years before recently continuing on to her current job with Cargill Animal Nutrition.
Cargill Animal Nutrition is a large feed company, located in 38 countries, where Lohman works under Strategic Marketing and Technology. She works with two groups of customers – the stores that sell their products and the end consumers that use the feed – explaining to them the benefits of Cargill’s high quality feeds, although she finds it difficult to get people to understand that what you feed horses is just as important as what you feed yourself. The job is rewarding, though, when she can help people understand the importance and benefits of high quality feed, “Feeding winners is the best,” Lohman exclaims.
For Lohman, one of the most rewarding parts of her job is working with the trainers Cargill sponsors, including Amanda Steege. “To see how hard she has worked to get the horses to perform well, and to see how the feed we supply her horses makes them look like a million dollars is just a really great feeling,” Lohman said about working with Steege. Lohman works with riders in the Quarter Horse sector, dressage, eventing, racing and people with other types of livestock as well.
Along with her successful career in the feed industry, Lohman has had a rewarding amateur career. She has never had a “long-term” horse, but has had very successful runs on some special horses.
“When I moved to Richmond in 2000 after college, I got a Thoroughbred gelding named Promises Kept from my godmother that I showed in the Amateurs,” explains Lohman. Lohman had the good fortune of riding with Tommy Serio after college. “I learned so much from Tommy – both in riding and horsemanship. The way he cared for his horses had a huge impact on me and I’ve carried that forward to this day. I rode with Tommy during his Popeye K, Summer Rally, Somerset Bay, Jazz and Small Talk years – it was a magical time!”
One of Lohman’s first notable partners was a Thoroughbred gelding named Master Plan. Lohman stalked ‘Marshall’ after he was sold out of her husband’s barn, Lohman Stables. She always made sure that when she was braiding at shows she got to braid him. Five years after he had been sold, Marshall’s owners were looking to sell and reached out to Lohman. “I went to the bank and wired them all the money I had,” Lohman laughed, “Marshall was at my house by lunchtime that day. He was the epitome of a classy, Thoroughbred show hunter. He is also the kindest animal on the planet and is my very best friend.”
Around the same time Lohman acquired Marshall, a horse named Wise Counsel came into her life. ‘Mark’ had been with her husband, Alan, since he was three years old. Alan had brought him up the ranks, taking him to Devon and Indoors, before selling him in the barn. Mark ended up a member of the Lohman family after his owner, Dani Drezner, headed off to college. The Drezners knew how important Mark was to Alan, and wanted to be sure that Mark would never leave Alan’s care.
Lohman showed both Marshall and Mark during the same period of time in the Youngers Adult Amateurs. “I had a nice, special run on them,” Lohman said. These two horses still live with the Lohmans, both of them 23 years old. Marshall and Mark have spent the majority of their lives stabled side by side, and share a pasture together.
In 2015, Lohman leased Davenport from Dani DiPietro, who was spending the year doing amazing charitable work in India. “My time with him wasn’t long, but it was certainly very special,” Lohman explained. Together, they received champion at their first show and got ribbons at indoors, winning the Washington International Horse Show Adult Amateur Finals that year. “Davenport was the ultimate showman. He knew when it was his time to shine. He preferred to be left in his stall eating hay until it was time to walk in the ring to perform,” explained Lohman.
Lohman has also gotten the opportunity to ride several other horses including CeCe Williamson’s Northstar and Zander Laurent’s Buttonwood, but is currently riding That’ll Do in the 3’3” Amateur Owners. That’ll Do, also known as ‘Marvel’, is a very special horse to the Lohmans. He was the first horse Alan imported, and they have been working together with him since he came to the states five years ago. “It’s a family effort,” Lohman said, “Getting to the point of riding Marvel in the Amateurs is a special accomplishment.”
Although the Lohmans work together with Marvel, apart from their daily 6am SoulCycle class together, they usually spend the working day separately. When not away showing, judging or course designing, Alan works all day riding and teaching lessons. Lohman rides in the morning and then either spends her days on conference calls at her home office, or traveling throughout the country for her job. “Getting to travel for work never gets old. I enjoy catching up with co-workers and customers who are spread out around all parts of the country,” noted Lohman.
This couple’s love rooted around horses. They met at a horse show in Lexington, VA in the winter of 2002 and started dating soon after. “I thought he was super-hot and I was lucky enough that my stall was next to his stalls,” Lohman explained, “He asked me if he could borrow some duct tape, and three years later I moved to Maryland and we got married.”
The Lohmans work together managing two annual shows, the Maryland Summer Classic (May) and the Maryland Horse and Pony Show (September). “People just appreciate low-key shows with great exhibitor hospitality,” Lohman said. “We just love seeing people have fun at our horse shows,” Lohman explained how rewarding pulling off a good show is even though there is a tremendous amount of overhead, and takes lots of hard work from our great staff and officials.
Another side gig that Lohman has is judging horse shows. She currently holds her “r” judge’s card, with the long term goal to get a “R” card. She started right out of college, judging local shows, then after getting the “r” rating moved up to bigger shows. Lohman values her time in the judging box to a great extent, and finds it vital to her success as an exhibitor at shows, “It makes you a much better exhibitor. You learn what aggravates judges – and what they are more likely to reward.”
Lohman has also spent time as President of the Maryland Horse Shows Association which allows her to work with a great group of people in making the Maryland scene a fun and quality area to show in.
Jessica Lohman is truly in every corner of the equine industry and is making her mark in every single one. She will expand to even more corners in the future, acting as a role model and great contributor to her local equestrian community and the community nation-wide.