It was an historic night for the sport of dressage, and after Steffen Peters was recognized for his year of achievement, a woman who was a huge part of his story in 2009 was honored for a lifetime of it. With names like George Morris, Lowell Boomer, Don Burt and Jack LeGoff, and Major General Jonathan R Burton who have been bestowed the USEF Lifetime Achievement Award there had been a name missing from the list. For Jessica Ransehousen, the stalwart of the US Dressage program since arriving on the scene as a competitor halfway through the last century her time had come.
Ransehousen had been National Champion, a member of three Olympic Teams and a Pan American Games Team as a rider, her influence since she left the saddle will resonate throughout the sport forever. Ransehousen (Unionville, PA) has been the Chef d’Equipe for the US Dressage riders at three Olympic Games, two World Championships and four Pan American Games, steering the teams to Team Bronze at both the 1996 and 2000 Olympic Games and to Team and Individual Gold at the 1999 Pan American Games.
Ransehousen’s steadfast attention to detail, commitment to the sport and unwavering determination have put her, rightfully, in the company of the legends of the game. She served as Chef d’Equipe at both the 2009 FEI World Cup Final and the CDIO Aachen, and was an integral part of making sure that Ravel and Peters’ path to history was a smooth one. Ransehousen shared stories of the early years competing for America beginning with the 1960 Rome Olympics which started with her arrival at the Olympic Village and no room for her and her teammate. Her horse was delivered to the wrong warm up area, and when she finally tracked him down she had less than a half an hour to warm up. Her early experiences benefitted for years to come the teams which would follow. She always seemed to be one step ahead of the problem, and never was afraid of speaking her mind. Ransehousen’s knowledge of each of her athletes and the dynamics of the situation helped defuse many an emotional or tense situation as she combined her instincts with the understanding of each of the individuals she was there to protect.
“2009 was a very special year for America,” said Ransehousen after she described the evolution of the sport in the United States.