Thursday, March 31, 2011

Missy Ransehousen: A Return to Rolex - Bringing BG Back!!!!!!!!!

Thanks to our great friends John & Samantha at Eventing Nation for this well deserved media attention!!!!!

Missy Ransehousen: A Return to Rolex - Bringing BG Back

Getting to know Missy Ransehousen was a real perk of the job as co-host of the 2010 Radio show for the two years leading up to last year's World Equestrian Games.  We became friends because she fulfills a busy schedule as coach and chef d'equipe of the US Para-EquestrianTeam, a position she's held since the 2000 Sydney Olympics.  However, she's also an extremely successful three day eventer in her own right - finishing 3rd at Rolex in 2008, and a fast clear cross country there in 2009 leaving her in the top 20 and one of the highest placed Americans going into the stadium. However, an allergic reaction to shampoo meant he didn't show jump on Sunday. A Burghley completion around a tough course in 2009, before a freak stifle injury in the spring of 2010 laid her horse Critical Decision off for the rest of last year. Missy knows as well as anyone the highs and lows that come along with a career in horses, and she deals with both with grace, class and always, a sense of humour.



How wonderful now to hear that Critical Decision, or BG (Big Guy) is back now - 8th in the advanced at Poplar Place last weekend, (and that was before they took out the water jump!) with two steady clear rounds jumping and a nice dressage, and they're headed to the Fork, and then back to Rolex.  What a perfect excuse to catch up with Missy and find out what's going on in her life: 

Q: Congratulations, and it must be wonderful to have BG back competing again. Was this his first event since the injury?

Missy:  "It was his first full event. I ran him in March at Rocking Horse when I did the combined test in the intermediate. I only jumped about the first six fences cross-country, because he just started jumping again in the middle of February, so I didn't want to run the full event then.  He was really good last weekend.  He is definitely a bit tired this week, but I was pleased with him."

It was almost exactly a year ago that BG cracked the tip of his tibia (stifle area) and strained the ligaments that go around it whilst galloping across country at Southern Pines, it was an injury unrelated to a fence, just one of those unfortunate accidents, a stress fracture, and I asked Missy how his recovery has been.

Missy:  "He was actually locked up in a stall for quite some time--up until July. Then we started hand-walking him for a month, and in August we started tack-walking and adding some trot, so every week we would increase his trot load, and in November he started doing some hill-work. He would be ridden twice a day, and he got up to about 40 minutes of trot-work in the indoor at home, and then he would do about half an hour of hill work twice a day, and he continued that until I came down to Florida in the beginning of January. Then he started to canter, and we just kept slowly increasing his work, still twice a day. In February he started to jump, and I would just do a few small fences about every second or third day, and by the end of February I did a bigger school before Rocking Horse.  In February we also started to use the Aqua-Tred twice a week to help with his fitness. So he does his normal schooling, and his gallops and his jumping for the rest of the week to get him to where he is now. "

RansehousenUSEA250.jpgPhoto courtesy of the USEA
Missy and BG will remain at their base in Ocala until Rolex, and she says, for the most part, he has been a perfect patient:

"He got tired of being locked up, and I had to be careful of riding him sometimes in the arena on very cold or windy days, especially with other horses because his energy would feed off them. But overall he was pretty good, to go from being that fit to doing nothing."

I wondered if it was hard on Missy mentally bringing him back, if she worried about him constantly, or if she was able to treat him like any other horse,

"Once he started back in work it took a while. When he first started trotting he was very short-striding. He just protected himself; he wouldn't just go out there and trot like a normal horse. He was trotting more like a pony, and I was pretty discouraged. So we did a few shock wave treatments on him and that made a big difference. In the beginning there were times when I thought he might not ever be what he is now again, or what he was, but now he seems pretty good.  I just take it a day at a time with him, and see how he does. "

Q:  When did you begin to think that Rolex might be a possibility? 

Missy: "I talked it over with Karen O Connor quite a bit about the end of February, beginning of March.  We set up a plan and made a schedule for him, but really we just take it a day at a time. He's been feeling good though, and once he really started to jump more powerfully and feel stronger, it just seems much more possible."

Missy trains with Karen O Connor, her mother Jessica on the flat, and Holly Mitten, and Patrick Dwyer for show-jumping.

[Photo via USEA and Missy's website] 
Thumbnail image for BasketRolex.jpg

Q:  Were you more nervous this weekend than normal? 

Missy:  "Yes, a bit, just not knowing if he would really go out there and gallop, and be happy about galloping again. But after the first couple of jumps, he felt terrific. I have had him for so many years that I know what he is all about, and when he came back it's a great feeling." 

Q: How long have you had BG and how did you find him?

Missy:  "I bought him as a 3 year old. He belonged to a student of my mother's, and he grew to be too big, (BG/Big Guy stands at 17.1hh!). They put him up for sale, so I took a look at him and I liked a lot of things about him. He was able to compress his stride even as a baby, and he really enjoyed jumping.  He didn't cost much money so we figured it was worth taking a gamble.  BG turns 15 this year so I've had him quite a few years." 

Q:  Without wanting to jinx you, a good run at Rolex this spring would position you nicely for contention next year at the London Olympics, do you dare dream about things like that yet? 

Missy:  "Well, yes, I certainly strive to go in that direction. If it happens - great, and if it doesn't then you pick your next goal. I'll just keep going with BG at this level, hopefully do a couple more four stars with him if he feels ready, and work on the path in that direction, but...time tells."

Not only does Missy have a busy barn of students and horses -  four working students at home in Pennsylvania, two down in Florida, three full-time para-riders based with her in Pennslyvania, and ten other students - she also has perhaps fifteen outside students that she helps.  She says this isn't a huge amount, but it sounds like an enormous workload to me!  Missy also has to add to that her para duties. Luckily she is a genius multi-tasker, has a bundle of energy, and of course is hard working to the extreme. 

Missy at the WEG with 2010 radio show co-host Glenn the Geek

"I just try to organise the schedule so that I can be where I need to be as much as I can. This year is a little bit of an off year for us: I'll talk to the para-riders via telephone, and they'll send me some training videos, and we'll do it more that way. We have a couple of training sessions, but not nearly as many as we do in Olympic or World Championship years. We do have a 3* in Saugerties in September, so on the really important weekends I do make an effort to be there for the para-riders.

"I will be going to the Test Event in London this year in July to see the location.  Next year will be tough; if my horse is going well, I'll have to sort some things out that way. I am lucky to have a great assistant trainer with the para-riders, Sharon Schneidman, who helps me out quite a bit, and that makes my life easier."

Having spoken to a couple of the Brits within Team Management, it seems they are determined to learn from the WEG experience, and I asked Missy what the US para-team had taken away from Kentucky last year,

"Well obviously funding and exposure is always an issue. There were definitely some lessons learned. It's actually easier for us if we can take the team and go AWAY; it's almost easier if you can have the whole team together to train, and then leave for the competition.  Whereas when it's on your own home turf, it's not always an advantage. There are so many outside factors. 

The other thing it came down to as well is that we had ten riders. That's a huge amount of horses to have for a competition, and never again will we have that option to have ten horses. I think at our next Paralympics and on to our next World Games we will be more limited in who we have, and we'll also put more pressure on everyone to qualify and to have tougher selection trials. It's certainly more relaxed with more horses but then you can fall into a trap of not pushing yourself enough, and maybe our riders fell into that category a little. 

We had so many inexperienced riders at WEG who had never seen any other international competitors. I think they learned that the standard needs to be raised as far as their riding and the quality of the horses. 

Also the funding is certainly huge for us. We're a young sport that's not proven, and it's a bit of a catch 22. We need the money to go to Europe and get exposure to improve and become more successful, but without success it's hard to attract the dollars. 

US Para-Equestrian Susan Treabess

With having the World Games in this country, I have seen more new riders come along That helps, and it will be a good thing to have more competitions, and to have the exposure of more riders. We just keep trying. 

A big part for us is just to keep our name out there as much as possible, and to keep spreading the word that we always need horses, we always need funding, and hope that something will come along that will help us out.  We just keep trying. "

Thanks for keeping on trying, Missy, with such unending good humour and faith; wishing you the best of luck at Rolex and with all your Olympic endeavours.  Thanks for reading, and Go Para-Equestrians and Eventing! 

This article was also published on

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Poplar Place

Thanks to Eventing Nation for this great footage of Missy!!