Jessica Ransehousen Receives Lifetime Achievement Award from US Federation

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Jessica Ransehousen with George H. Morris watching Steffen Peters ride Ravel at Aachen. © 2009 Ilse Schwarz/dressage-news.com
Jessica Ransehousen with George H. Morris watching Steffen Peters ride Ravel at Aachen. © 2009 Ilse Schwarz/dressage-news.com

LOUISVILLE, Kentucky, Jan. 16–Jessica Ransehousen, who competed in three Olympic Games for the United States almost a quarter century apart, received a Lifetime Achievement Award and the Jimmy A. Williams Trophy from the U.S. Equestrian Federation Saturday night.

Her lifetime of competition, training, judging and leading U.S. teams as chef d’equipe was capped by a return as chef to witness the international success of Steffen Peters and Ravel in 2009. She had been the the USA chef in 1996 at his first Olympics.

She received her award at the same ceremony where Steffen was named Equestrian of the Year for the second time.

She was saluted by U.S. jumping chef d’equipe George H. Morris and Robert Dover, who rode on six Olympic teams for the USA, at the presentation of the USEF’s highest individual honor at the USEF annual convention in Lousiville, Kentucky.

Jessica, 71, of Unionville, Pennsylvania, was honored for her deep and passionate commitment to dressage. She was among the first to ever ride dressage in America and was the U.S. Equestrian Team National Dressage Champion in 1956 and 1957.

She competed in three Olympic Games for the USA–in Rome, 1960, Tokyo, 1964 then 24 years later in Seoul in 1988. She also won team silver at the Pan American Games in 1959.

Kessica Ranshousen competing in Aachen on her way to the Rome Olympics in 1960.
Kessica Ranshousen competing in Aachen on her way to the Rome Olympics in 1960.

She was the first USET member to wear the leading rider’s green armband at the prestigious international dressage competition in Aachen, Germany. And she rode at Aachen in what was a freestyle without music, a precursor of the musical freestyle.

Jessica was chef d’equipe for the U.S. dressage team at the Olympics in Barcelona in 1992, Atlanta in 1996, Sydney in 2000 and Athens in 2004, the World Equestrian Games at Stockholm in 1990 and The Hague in 1994, plus several Pan American Games.

She was also a FEI “I” judge.

Jessica has trained and mentored numerous accomplished dressage and event riders. She trained her daughter Missy Ransehousen, now a successful event rider and trainer at the family’s Blue Hill Farm in Unionville. She coached dressage riders Dorothy Morkis on Monaco before the pair won team bronze at the 1976 Montreal Olympics and Todd Flettrich, 1992 North American Young Rider dressage individual gold medalist and now a FEI-level trainer and rider.

Her event-riding students have included Darren Chiacchia and Phillip Dutton, both U.S. team competitors.

Jessica returned as the U.S. chef d’equipe in 2009 at the age of 70 when the USA was wthout a coach or chef d’equipe.

Steffen Peters became the FEI World Cup champion and achieved an historic sweep for an American of the CDIO Grand Prix, Grand Prix Special and Grand Prix Freestyle at Aachen. Germany. She had been chef d’equipe in 1996 when Steffen rode for the first time as a U.S. citizen at the Atlanta Olympics, winning team bronze on Udon.

Jessica Ransehousen as chef d'equipe of the USA gold medal team at the 2003 Pan American Games in Santo Domingo. © Ken Braddick/dressage-news.comJessica Ransehousen as chef d’equipe of the USA gold medal team at the 2003 Pan American Games in Santo Domingo. © Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

“Steffen’s ride on Ravel at the World Cup in Las Vegas was exciting and beautiful,” she said. “To witness Steffen’s maturation from 1996 to 2009 was wonderful,

“At Aachen it was even more amazing, to see the whole evolution of a wonderful, melodic and goal-achieving performance. That was one of the high points of my life.”

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Jessica Ransehousen, the stalwart of the US Dressage program since arriving on the scene as a competitor halfway through the last century, she has 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.

“David called me up and I wasn’t there and I called him back and here I was thinking there was something wrong,” said Ransehousen.  “He said, ‘Oh I am so glad to get you on the phone -you won the Lifetime Achievement Award.’ And I say, ‘What for?’And he says, ‘Well you do deserve it.’”

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.

“2009 was a very special year for America,” said Ransehousen after she described the evolution of the sport in the United States.