Monday, January 25, 2016

Team USA Para-Equestrians Triumph at Week II in Wellington!

Once again Missy and Gigi had a successful weekend at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival CPEDI 3* in Wellington, Florida!  This weekend proved a bit more challenging with the international set of judges, but in the end Gigi and Rio Rio pulled off a brilliant freestyle to conclude their 2 weeks of qualifying Paralympic competition in Wellington.  In addition they were members of the Champion US Team for the second week of competition!

Congratulations to Team Rio Rio on one more positive step towards the 2016 Selections Trials!

Team BHF! - Photo Credit Lindsay McCall
Weekend Report From Gigi:

"The wild weather was once again a theme for the second qualifying competition for the US team for the 2016 Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro. The forecast for Friday, January 22 involved severe thunderstorms and torrential rain all day.  The show management wisely moved the competition from the beautiful Stadium to the covered arena but not before the first riders warmed up through the promised deluge!  Saturday was clear and bright but the chill in the air was exacerbated by fierce winds that intensified throughout the day leaving the higher grade riders dodging flopping foliage and flying flowerpots. Sunday was clear, calm and remarkably chilly but we were all very appreciative of those back home in Pennsylvania snow wrestling in the frozen North!

"Weather and the various venues provided no issues for Rio Rio but the Budweiser Clydesdales (at AGDF to practice for a performance) being led four-abreast, struck her with terror!

"Rio placed second in the Team test (69.2%) with very much tougher judging than we encountered at the last CPEDI3*. Heavily penalized for our wobbles on the center line, Marc Urban (Belgium) gave us only 65%. Fortunately, the German judge,  Holger Holtschmit, came up with 73%! More adventures on the center line left us in second place again in Saturday's Individual test (68.4%).

"Finally, Sunday's Freestyle was great! Rio was forward, active and quite steady to win with 72.9%! The judges often comment on the music from The King and I, choreographed by Marlene Whittaker.

"I am very excited to have been a member (along with Rebecca Hart, Angela Peavy and Roxanne Trunnell) of the winning United States CPEDI3* team this weekend! This result qualifies the US team for the 2016 Paralympic Games. While the final team members for Rio de Janeiro will not be chosen until the selection trials in June, Missy's tireless efforts this weekend, in all sorts of inclement weather, have Rio Rio and me in close contention for that honor! (The final determination will be based 50% on the scores from the International CPEDI3*s and 50% on the June selection trial results.)

"Thanks so much to Missy and Jessica and my wonderful Blue Hill Farm supporters, great friends and family! Many thanks to Mimi Lufkin for pitching in to help us at both competitions!

"Also, many thanks to Becky Reno and Mission Control, Rowan O'Riley and Mane Event, Adequan, Nutrena, USPEA President, Hope Hand, USEF Discipline Director Laureen Johnson, AGDF Show management and volunteers and the FEI Stewards, Chris Porterfield, Sally Davenport, Denise Pool and Patty Sweeney!"

The show of teamwork over the past year in support of Gigi and Rio Rio has been inspirational and everyone from Blue Hill Farm in Pennsylvania is just thrilled with these results.  Congratulations to Missy, Gigi and all her supporters on an impressive kick off to the road to Rio!

While those of us up north continue to dig out from the mega-storm, why not light a fire and spend the evening reading some of the press coverage of the event.  Be safe, stay warm, and thank you again for your interest and support of our Blue Hill Para-Equestrians!


AGDF Week II - Photo Credit Susan J. Stickle
An excerpt from the Adequan Global Dressage Festival Press Release:
Full AGDF Press Release

"The week was full of unpredictable weather, which ultimately proved to benefit the team, according to a number of the riders and Handt, as it provided an opportunity for the combinations to experience adversity in the ring, a quality each team ride will need to be comfortable with before looking towards the Paralympic Games.

"The wild weather this weekend was definitely to Rio's advantage," noted McIntosh, who's mare Rio Rio can be a bit too settled in the ring. "She's just so relaxed that sometimes she needs that atmosphere going on to take it to the next level for a really good test. I felt like today was a culmination of all of that. She felt great in the ring and she was awake, paying attention. Thanks to Missy and Jessica Ransehousen for all of their hard work with her."

Team USA - Photo Credit Lindsay McCall
An excerpt from the USPEA Press Release:
Full USPEA Press Release

"Chef d'Equipe Kai Handt was proud of the USA riders over these last two weeks. Handt noted, "It was a very challenging weekend this week. The weather was not in our favor. The first day we had to change arenas, some of the horses got soaking wet and had to move from one arena to another and warmup twice. Luckily the facility has an indoor and we were lucky enough to use it and move the venue over there. All the horses performed very well under trying conditions. Today we had lots of wind, helicopter, sirens, and tents blowing. We can really see that our top riders and top horses are ready for the challenge. Even under all these trying circumstances they performed up to their best, got their scores up, and performed consistently. Together the US team worked to qualify for the Paralympics. Our athletes are showing a steady improvement  from the last competitions to here and they are coming together as a team. We have trainers and riders that are up to the challenge and all of our current team horses are in very good position. We even have a couple other people that have stepped up this weekend. It looks like we have 6 or 7 riders that will be trying out at the selection trials for the team. It should be an exciting trial for the Paralympics."

Friday, January 22, 2016

Week 2 of the CPEDI 3* Paralympic Qualifier and A Report from Eventing 25 Training Camp!!

We've got it all going on at Blue Hill Farm!!  Lots on tap this weekend for Blue Hill Farm South with Missy and Gigi back in Wellington for the second weekend of CPEDI 3* Paralympic qualifier and Madeline sent us a great report from last week's Eventing 25 Training Camp. 

Come on Blue Hill Farm fans....try to keep up!!
Week Two of The Adequan® Global Dressage Festival

The jog was yesterday and as usual we will be in touch with Missy and Gigi throughout the weekend to see if they can bring back the same steady determination and results from week 1

Wellington, FL-  January 21, 2016 – Nineteen horse and rider combinations presented themselves on Thursday at the FEI Jog for the $10,000 CPEDI3* occurring January 22-24, 2016, at Week Two of the Adequan® Global Dressage Festival (AGDF). The $10,000 CPEDI3* is presented by Mission Control, Mane Stream, courtesy of Rowan O’Riley, Adequan®, and Nutrena. Para-Dressage riders from both Canada and the USA will step into The Stadium on Friday for their Team Test competition, followed by the Individual Test on Saturday, and the Freestyles on Sunday.


Missy Ransehousen jogging Rio Rio ridden by Margaret McIntosh (USA).
Photo (C) Lindsay Y. McCall

Eventing 25 Training Sessions!

And last week, our resident young rider, Madeline Backus, has the please of participating in her first E25 Training Session with Leslie Law!  We asked for a full report from Madeline and she sent along this great perspective from the week.  

The E25 Training Session Team
Thank you Woodge Fulton for the great photo!
"Ari and I participated in the 2016 Eventing 25 training session last week and it was a very fun and educational experience!  For our group of top young riders we were treated to five days of lessons with Leslie Law.   We also had lectures everyday during lunch from different speakers such as veterinarians and sports psychologists. We focused on dressage Monday and Wednesday, jumped in the ring Tuesday and Thursday and ended with a great cross country ride on Friday (even if it was in the rain!).

"I learned some great new exercises that I will be working on at home. For me, this past week wasn’t just great for training purposes, but also fun because I got to meet all the talented riders that made this years Eventing 25 training list. Being from Colorado, I had only heard of these people, or had seen them ride at the events. I had never actually met them, and last week I was able to be around all these people. It was a really great group of individuals, and it was inspiring to watch all of them ride. These are definitely people I will be cheering on throughout the show season.

"Going a little bit off topic, I can’t say that I have watched a lot of the top riders school their horses at home. For the most part, I’ve only seen these riders in competition when everything is polished and mistakes are hidden. I have always known that everybody has something to work on. We all develop habits. But seeing riders last week work on their individual areas of improvement helped me realize that I’m not the only one who has to work at it every day. It reminded me that we are all constantly learning and figuring out the best way to ride the horse that is underneath us.

"Yes, I have a lot to work on to become even half as good as these riders, but that’s what keeps me motivated to work hard and always try my best. For now, I’m taking in all the information I can and looking forward to our first competition of 2016 going Intermediate at Rocking Horse Winter 1 in two weeks!

"It was so special to be chosen to be one of the participants this year. I had a great time and am grateful for everyone who made it possible. I thoroughly enjoyed all of the conversations and lessons we had last week and I am looking forward to continuing my education in 2016!

"Hope all is going well up at Blue Hill Farm North! Good luck to everyone this year!"

~Madeline and Arianna

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Gigi and Rio - Clean Sweep In Wellington and One Step Closer to Rio!!

This past weekend at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival in Wellington, FL, Rio Rio and Gigi finished their first qualifying competition for the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janiero with flying colors.  In fact, they earned the over-all Reserve Championship, just eight tenths of a point behind former fellow Blue Hill Farm para-equestrian and 6 time US National Champion, Rebecca Hart!

At the end of October, Missy and  Gigi came home from a disappointing trip to Katy, Tx, resolving to reassess their training routine in order to have successful results at the January International competitions in Wellington.  They consulted our Chester County team of experts, Todd Meister (farrier), Stacey Kent (veterinarian) and Bonnie Kibbie (equine chiropractor) as well as the nutritionists at Kentucky Equine Research.  KER's Chelsea Martin built a nutritional plan for Rio Rio based on Nutrena's ProForce feed with the addition of KER's Restore SR and Nano E.   In addition, Pari Nurrish received strict instructions to build upon the new nutritional program by increasing Rio's fitness program with more daily hill work!

With Amy Coughlin's support and Sarah Armentrout's cooperation, they also enlisted Clive Milkins’ expertise for clinics at Blue Hill Farm in November and December. Clive is well known in the para world as the long term coach of Great Britain's gold medal winning para-equestrian Sophie Christiansen. 

“Missy, Jessica and Clive joined forces to analyze my riding and partnership with Rio Rio. That was an extraordinary privilege and one of the most productive experiences of my equestrian life.”
Missy too was thrilled with the collaboration with Clive, citing that his tips encouraging Missy to follow Rio on the ground while Gigi was mounted really helped with getting the mare to move forward.  He also was very effective in helping Gigi understand the impact of her body position through the use of her hips & turning of her shoulders.

According to Missy, “The result was that Rio was much more forward and sustained her activity throughout the entire first test and they were able to hold onto that energy with much better consistency on days 2 and 3 as well.”
Missy also changed up Rio’s pre-competition game plan by doing the majority of the warm-up riding before bathing and braiding.  Missy would then do a quick 10 minute ride before putting Gigi in the tack for a briefer period of time before going down center line.  This approach kept the mare fresher for her performance. 

Team Rio Rio

All of their efforts came together beautifully this past weekend when a very fit and happy Rio produced three solid dressage tests to win the Grade 1a Championship and the overall Reserve Championship with 73.05%!
“I have an overarching respect for Missy's wisdom in the multiple quotidian decisions to be made as coach, groom, rider and trainer in order to get such a successful result out of Rio and me!  I am eternally grateful for her tireless efforts in those multiple capacities!”

Judge Carlos Lopes

An added bonus to the weekend’s competition in Wellington was that Portugal’s   CPEDI*3 judge, Carlos Lopes, remained on Monday to work with the riders in a day long clinic.  Carlos took the opportunity to review the comments on each competitor's test and made recommendations for areas of improvement.   Gigi has a great opportunity to fix last weekend's mistakes and to solidify her recent progress at the second qualifying competition in Wellington on January 20th.

Gigi is very grateful for the support of all her sponsors, the crew at Blue Hill Farm and the help from Mimi Lufkin, her daughter, Charlotte Tarr and her ever vigilant husband, Brian McIntosh!

To quote Carlos Lopes, Portugal's CPEDI*3 judge, "Let's get Rio Rio to Rio!"

Charlotte & Gigi

Team Rio Rio

Friend Mimi Lufkin

Roxanne Trunnel, Jody Schloss, with judge Kristi Wysocki and para Mom Becky Reno

Team USA!
Thanks as always to Lindsay McCall for her great USPEA photos and coverage!!