Monday, October 24, 2016

Madeline's Reflections on Fair Hill International's 3*!

What a beautiful week we had at Fair Hill! Not only was the weather absolutely perfect,  but I was  also very grateful to have my parents fly into spend the weekend with me.  Last year I completed my first CCI 2* at Fair Hill and this year I completed my second CCI 3*. 

Both years I’ve been lucky to have great weather at Fair Hill.  There is a lot of atmosphere at Fair Hill and the courses were all very nice this year.  Ari and I had a great prep run at Plantation Field International a few weeks prior to Fair Hill, where we ran the CIC 3* as well.

Ari and I arrived on Tuesday for the first horse inspection, in preparation for the jog Wednesday afternoon.  On Thursday we put in a pretty good dressage test for Ari and I was quite pleased with her since dressage has been our toughest phase. We didn’t score quite as well as we did at Plantation, but I am still happy with the improving relaxation thanks to all the help I have received from Blue Hill. Jessica has really been working with me to focus on every stride and ride extremely steady to keep Ari consistent, and it is really coming along. Ari is an incredible horse, but she is also a bit challenging in the dressage, so she’s really teaching me how to ride.


I walked the cross country course with Missy after Dressage, which was intimidating at first, but Missy thoroughly went through it with me and we came up with a solid plan.  I walked my course a total of four times to really feel confident about the lines I was going to take coming to each and every fence.  Ari and I had a free day on Friday, so I just did a light flat school to keep her happy.  I was also able to have Patti Gillen from County Saddlery  fit my jump saddle for XC on Saturday, which was very nice and extremely helpful of her! 

 
By the time Saturday morning rolled around, I walked my course one last time, and began getting ready.  I got more nervous as our ride time approached, but as soon as we headed out of the box, we were ready to tackle the course.  Ari is an amazing cross country horse and made it around the course brilliantly.  I made a couple of mistakes, but she took care of me and we crossed the finish line with just a bit of time. I was absolutely thrilled.


You can check out several photos from XC day on Facebook.

Then began the post Cross Country care, with icing, poulticing, liniment baths, wrapping, and hoof packing. Horses are so tolerant with all we do to them, especially since they don’t understand why we make them stand in buckets of ice and wait patiently while we fuss over their legs.  Ari is a pro when it comes to all of this, and lets us take care of her. 

Sunday morning came along, and it was an early morning to prepare for the final horse inspection. I was so grateful for the help of Todd and Stacey to make Ari feel her best after the great effort she put in the day before on XC.   We passed jogs and continued onto the final phase with Missy's help warming up for Show Jumping.  Ari was phenomenal and jumped so carefully around the entire course, even when I put her on a difficult stride into a combination. She pulled one rail due to my mistake, but finished the course wonderfully. She tried her heart out for me, and I couldn’t have asked for a better run at my second CCI3*. 

The big news is that with a successful completion at Fair Hill with a clean cross country run, we are qualified next April for Rolex!  Ari and I will continue to move forward in our training and see what next year may bring!

As always, a huge thanks to all of the people who always cheer me on,  including my wonderful sponsors who support my goals and dreams.  It is truly an amazing team here at Blue Hill, and I couldn’t have done it without everyone involved.   Thank you to my parents and their friends who gave their support as well.  What an unforgettable week!    ~ Madeline

Photo Credits Lisa Thomas, Mid-Atlantic Equestrian

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Missy Teaches At Twin Fox Farm in Versaille, Ky!

Many thanks to Brigitte Aikelin for her report from last weekend's clinic with Missy in Kentucky!
If anyone is interested in scheduling a clinic with Missy, she is an amazing instructor.  Please call her directly for  scheduling and fees.  484-576-3947
___________________________

This past weekend Twin Fox Farm in Versailles, KY welcomed Missy Ransehousen for a 2 day clinic. There were many participants, some who we're excited to ride with her for the first time.

Day 1 was dressage. It started just as the sun came up and finished as the sun went down. Missy had a busy day but that didn't stop her from giving fantastic lessons and advice to all the riders! Even the auditors learned bits and pieces to take home and try on their horses.



After a long dressage day and setting the jump course for the next day, a few of the riders and crew from Twin Fox took Missy out for dinner. Everyone reminisced about Rio and past Olympics and WEG. It was a fun time for all!

Day 2 was stadium day, once again starting as the sun came up.  After the waters were done spritzing the arena, the first group took flight.  Everyone had successful rides and left the arena grinning from ear to ear, making new friends from their jump pairs.  After our goodbyes and many thanks, we sent Missy off to the airport.



It was such a successful weekend for all. The facility was fantastic with perfect footing both days. Twin Fox Farm would gladly welcome Missy back any time! Everyone was thankful to Missy for the extended knowledge that she has given each of us to take away from the weekend. ~ Brigitte




Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Gigi Looks Back On Rio!

Looking back over my notes from the first team conference call at the end of March when we were still at Cindy Torbeck's farm in Ocala, I find it hard to believe we actually made it to Rio! Through the dark days at the National Finals desperately doing the math to figure out if we still even had a chance to the final role calls in the #1 spot on the team to the Opening Ceremony, the depths of my emotional roller coaster made the high points even more satisfying.


One of the most rewarding aspects of this Paralympic Games was the bond we developed as a team. We shared a three bedroom, three bathroom apartment in a nineteen story high rise in the village. We also shared the elevators with 300 USA teammates from all disciplines, truly a challenge at peak times. The main dining hall was a huge tent.  I mean like airline terminal huge! With an incredible variety of food from pizza and various hot dishes to abundant fruit and salad and delicious ice cream bars, everyone found something to eat and, remarkably, none of us suffered any ill effects!  

We shared lots of giggles over our coordinated efforts at locomotion around the Village, two of us on one scooter and powered scooters towing the wheelchairs. Some efforts were more successful than others. The opening ceremony almost ended in a wreck but Annie swooped in to save me from a near-disaster caught on International TV!

We all cheered for each other's rides, owners, grooms and trainers sitting together as an American contingent replete with waving fłags.

Photo Duncan Peters

My first ride in the Deodoro stadium was so exciting! I literally could not stop smiling! The venue looked like a huge expanse on TV but the small dressage ring was artfully surrounded by shrubbery delineating the competition area and assuaging my agoraphobia. The stadium was festively decorated with International flags, brightly colored blue and green seating, and abundant flowers all reinforcing the Rio carnival atmosphere. We took our time noting the landmarks that would help me keep my 8m circles regular.


Two days later, Missy's great coaching experience led Rio and me to produce a solid first test at the Paralympic Games. I didn't ride till late in the afternoon on a very hot day, leaving too much time to ponder all aspects of this momentous occasion. Around noon, I had a total panic attack followed by an epiphany. I had already accomplished my goal in making it to the Paralympic Games. Suddenly calm, I resolved to just enjoy riding my horse and felt very confident walking around the outside of the competition ring with Missy, greeting the judges as we had done so many times before. I wasn't nervous at all and rode Rio in a consistent test with great halts and wonderful free walks for a respectable 68% despite the oppressive heat.

Preparing for my second test, the Individual Championship, to be held two days later, involved a slight change in strategy. In order to encourage Rio to show more forward energy, I rode her on a little longer rein. The coaches found her much improved in the subsequent test but from the judges' perspective, not enough to significantly impact her score.


I enjoyed the support of a great team in Rio! Missy Ransehousen did double duty as groom and trainer, keeping Rio well fed and beautifully turned out as well as totally tuned up for competition. Alex Philpin was a great help, especially on competition days when time was a factor. Charlotte McIntosh Tarr, my daughter, was exceptional in her ability to keep me organized, hydrated and focused with energy and a sense of humor that benefitted the whole team. It was a delight to have her there! I was overwhelmed by the cheers and good wishes of my FaceBook friends. I'm so sorry that none of the live feeds panned out!

It is hard to capture the sense of cameraderie our group shared. Missy summed it up saying it was a "No drama" experience. There was mutual support from the team's actual moms sewing the Paralympic buttons on our show coats to our Personal Care Providers, Laureen Johnson and Tina Wentz jumping in to push our powerless power chairs when necessary. We all benefitted from the years of advanced planning, foresight and attention to detail by the USEF's Will Connell and Christy Baxter and the support of the USET Foundation. Duncan Peters and the grooms kept the horses remarkably happy and healthy. Our State Department liaison, Stacey Berg, instantly became part of the team, pushing wheelchairs and fetching dressage whips as well as ensuring our safety!

Team Photo Holly Jacobson
My fellow teammates, Becca Hart, Sydney Collier, Annie Peavy and Roxie Trunnell, as well as being serious competitors, contributed a lot of humor to their overarching team spirit.

I can't begin to thank Missy enough for her determination in making my dream come true. I am very appreciative of all the hours she and Jessica have spent whipping Rio and me into shape.  It was lovely to come home to the congratulations of all of you who have followed my quest for all these years! Thank you all!

For full results:
http://rio2016.live.fei.org/



Tuesday, September 13, 2016

USPEA Press Release and Update from Paralympics.

Trunnell and McIntosh Represent the USA in Deep Grade 1A Division

By: Eleanor R. Brimmer

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - September 12, 2016 -
The largest class of 26 athletes from 19 nations in the 2016 Paralympic Equestrian Games contested the 1A division on September 12, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Margaret "Gigi" McIntosh from Reading, PA, made her Paralympic Team and major championship debut at Deodoro Olympic Equestrian Center with her aptly named mare Rio Rio. The pair acquitted themselves well, finishing on a 68.087% for 19th place.

Roxanne Trunnell of Rowlett, Texas, also made her Paralympic debut representing the United States as an Individual with Rachel Zent and Julia Handt's Royal Dancer. The 2014 World Equestrian Games team member scored a 69.348% for 14th place. Roxanne commented,  "Royal felt amazing during the test. I couldn't help but smile during it; He was so forward and marching in his walk and I was thrilled with his freewalk. I've been working on letting the reins go more which is a weird feeling for me since with my previous mount Touché you always had to keep hold of her, but I'm getting better about it. Overall it was a fantastic first Paralympic showing. I couldn't bring cookies with me but I snagged him some apples and I was sure to give him one after that lovely test."

 Winning the Grade 1A Individual Test was Great Britain's Sophie Christiansen riding Athene Lindebjerg to a 77.522%, her teammate Anne Dunham followed her into second place with Ljt Lucas Normark with a score of 73.975%.

Also competing this morning, September 12, was the Grade IV division, which did not have any representation from the United States. Belgium's Michele George won the class with her 2012 Paralympic Gold Medal partner Fbw Rainman on a score of 75.286%. Second place finisher for Grade IV was Great Britain team member Sophie Wells riding Valerius to a 74.405%.

Tuesday, September 13, we will see Rebecca Hart and Margaret Duprey and Cherry Knoll Farm's Schroeter's Romani compete in the Grade II Team Test at 11:20 AM local time. Entering the Equestrian Center for her second day is Annie Peavy aboard Becky Reno and Heather Blitz's Lancelot Warrior to contest the Grade III Individual Test for a possible medal at 4:06 PM local time.

The 2016 Paralympic Equestrian Games run from September 11-16, 2016, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, at the Deodoro Olympic Equestrian Center.

Full results and live scoring can be found here: http://rio2016.live.fei.org/

Timeline of Events at the Paralympic Games:

September 13 
10:00 AM      Grade II Team - Rebecca Hart (11:20 AM)
2:00 PM        Grade III Individual - Annie Peavy (4:06 PM)
5:05 PM        Grade III - Victory Ceremony

September 14   
10:00 AM    Grade IV Ind.
12:20 PM    Grade IV Ind. - Victory Ceremony
2:00 PM        Grade Ib Ind. - Sydney Collier
5:05 PM        Grade Ib Ind.  - Victory Ceremony

September 15   
10:00 AM    Grade II Ind. - Rebecca Hart
1:00 PM        Grade II Ind. - Victory Ceremony
2:00 PM        Grade Ia Ind. - Margaret McIntosh, Roxanne Trunnell
4:55 PM        Grade Ia Ind. - Victory Ceremony

September 16
9:00  AM    Grade III FS - Annie Peavy
10:10 AM    Grade IV FS
11:16 AM    Grade III FS - Victory Ceremony
11:31 AM    Grade IV FS - Victory Ceremony
1:00 PM        Grade Ib FS - Sydney Collier
2:10 PM        Grade Ia FS - Margaret McIntosh, Roxanne Trunnell
3:10 PM        Grade II FS - Rebecca Hart
4:16 PM        Grade Ia FS - Victory Ceremony
4:31 PM        Grade II FS - Victory Ceremony
4:46 PM        Grade Ib FS - Victory Ceremony
5:01 PM        Team - Victory Ceremony

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Back On Track Sends Gigi and Rio Rio to Rio In Comfort!

We are so grateful to Back on Track for making sure that Gigi and Rio and properly outfitted for their journey to Ocala, then Miami, then Rio!  It is a big mission to send Gigi and Rio (and Missy) on their way to Rio de Janiero, Brazil and Back on Track has stepped up to make sure they are comfortable while making this long trip.  We are so appreciative of their support of our Paralympic superstars!!


The use of the Back on Track sheet and the Quick Wraps will really help in keeping Rio's body and legs comfortable while in transit.  Although Rio is accustom to long trips for her competitions, it's still a lot to require of these animals when shipping so many miles. 

"Rio Rio and I are well equipped for the Road to Rio with our Back on Track Mesh sheet and Quick Wraps and  I am thoroughly enjoying the warm hug provided by my Double Back Brace!  Thank you so much, Bo and Lucy,  we are delighted to attest to the benefits of Back on Track's technology!"

Lucy and Bo sent us the following message regarding their support of Gigi and Rio, “Back on Track is delighted to stand behind Gigi McIntosh, while she rides at the Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.”

Schedule For Rio:





8/27 - Rio and Missy are scheduled to leave Blue Hill Farm headed for Ocala
8/28 - Training Camp from August 28th - September 2nd 
9/3 -  Missy, the grooms and Dr. Duncan Peters (team vet) fly to Rio ahead of horses.
9/3 - Horses fly later that same day from Miami to Rio with the Canadian vet and grooms.
9/4th - Riders fly to Houston for "processing" with the other Para athletes, then onto Rio.
9/7 - Opening Ceremonies
Gigi and Rio compete on 9/12, 9/15 and 9/16!
9/19 - Horses fly to one week quarantine in Miami.
Missy and grooms fly back to Miami on the same day.
Athletes back to Houston on the 19th.
9/20 - Home, sweet home on the 20th!

Here's to wishing the entire US Paralympic Team the best of luck in Rio.  You will make us proud!


Saturday, August 6, 2016

What an unforgettable week at the NAJYRC's at the Colorado Horse Park!

Our in house YR superstar, Madeline Backus, reflects on her travels back home to Colorado and her experience of riding on the team for Area IX. 

"Many people asked me why I wanted to go back down to the 2* level to compete at the 2016 NAJYRC’s after Ari and I have completed a couple of 3*’s together. Competing at the 2* NAJYRC’s has been a goal of mine for as long as I remember, and I had the opportunity this year to represent Area IX. It was also great to be able to compete at the Colorado Horse Park again, which put on a great competition as usual. 


Area IX Young Riders



"I felt the courses were all very fair yet challenging enough to shift the standings after dressage.  I was actually quite pleased with my dressage test on Thursday, even though we didn’t quite show enough of what the judges wanted to see. I was still happy with Ari’s effort, as we all know she really just wanted to get on to the jumping phases!

"Friday was a rest day for the 2* riders as the 1* riders completed their dressage tests. My fellow Area IX 1* rider put in a nice test before moving onto the jumping phases. Area IX is very small, so this year we only had one rider on the 1* team, and one rider on the 2* team. However, we were blended  with other area teams so that we could still get the experience of competing on a team. I was combined with the Area V (Texas) team, which was really fun and I was able to get team experience at this level.

Area IX in Action - Credit Sportfot
"Going into cross country, Ari and I were sitting in 13th place with a score of 60.8. Cross country day was exciting, and Ari and I had a lot of fun out on the course. Unfortunately, we had the frangible pin on a down hill fence because Ari tapped it with her hind legs to slow herself as we descended down the hill. She hit it just hard enough to knock the frangible pin, adding 11 points to our otherwise clear cross country round. Still, she was fantastic as usual on course, and recovered well and ready for show jumping the next day.

"Sunday went really well, and Ari jumped wonderfully, not adding any points to our score, which moved us up to 8th place individually. It was really cool to be on a team with two other great riders. As the only 3 person team, we still were able to take home the gold, which was very special.

Team Gold!

"It was such a memorable week, and I am so grateful for all the help and support I received from my grooms, parents, coaches, and friends. It was great to spend a couple of weeks prior to the NAJYRC’s back home at Pendragon Stud Equestrian Center, where I grew up and developed the solid foundation I needed before moving on to Blue Hill Farm.

"Being at Blue Hill Farm has helped me grow into the rider I am now, and getting to apply all the knowledge I have learned is an incredible experience. It was wonderful having Missy come out and help me through the week. We all had a great time, and it will forever be one of my favorite memories. "

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

EN Article: Gigi McIntosh: From Eventer to Paralympian!

We are so appreciative to Abby Powell who took the time to interview both Gigi and Missy and to produce such a wonderful article on our Para Team at Blue Hill Farm!  This truly is one of the best articles that we've seen published on Gigi's story and reflects what years of team work can produce through commitment to the end goal. 

More importantly, this article captures the determination and positive attitude which has carried Gigi through to her ultimate dream of being selected to the 2016 Paralympic team.



Below is a wonderful excerpt, but we encourage you to read the entire article on EN:

Gigi’s story shows how a positive attitude and “get back on the horse” mentality can carry a person through difficult times and ultimately lead to new heights.

“Gigi has always had a determination her whole life to be the best she can,” Missy said. “Her personality is very driving, but in a kind way. She is always conscientious and respectful about what it takes to make it happen for her.”

When asked if she has any advice for someone who feels like the odds are stacked against them, Gigi said: “The voice inside your head is the most important one! Very early on in my recovery, I resolved to stay positive.”

Gigi has also lived by a famous mantra from Henry Ford:

“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t — you’re right.”

And most importantly?

Never ever give up!”

Full Article by Abby Powell for Eventing Nation