January 3, 2010 — For more than five decades, the name of Jessica Newberry Ransehousen has been synonymous with the United States dressage program. And, after a lifetime spent as a high performance international medalist, lead dressage coach for the U.S. program, highly-skilled dressage judge and widely-respected ambassador for the sport of dressage, the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) has selected Ransehousen as the winner of the USEF’s highest individual honor–the USEF Lifetime Achievement Award and the Jimmy A. Williams Trophy.
From her start as a dressage rider, Ransehousen has known the taste of success. In 1956 and 1957, she earned the title of the United States Equestrian Team’s National Dressage Champion. But, this was only the beginning for this multi-talented equestrian.
To close out the 1950s, Ransehousen made her Pan American Games debut and assisted the U.S. team to a Silver medal in Chicago. The very next year, she made her Olympic Games debut in Rome, Italy, as a member of the U.S. Olympic Team. Four years later, she returned to Olympic competition in Tokyo, Japan.
Between decades of high performance competition, Ransehousen spent time sharing her gifts as an instructor and trainer. Those who name themselves among her many students include her own daughter, Missy, who has become a successful event rider and trainer at Blue Hill Farm, the longtime family operation in Unionville, Pa. Among others who have benefitted from Ransehousen’s expertise and experience are current Rolex FEI World Cup Dressage Champion and Olympian Steffen Peters, 1976 Montreal Olympic team bronze medalist Dorothy Morkis, and former Young Rider gold medalist and FEI-level trainer and rider Todd Flettrich. She also instructed event riders, including such U.S. standouts as Phillip Dutton and Darren Chiacchia.
However, the desire to compete and passion for competition was still present in Ransehousen, and in 1988, she was selected as a member of the 1988 Seoul Olympic team, an impressive 24 years after her second Olympic appearance. At her third and final Olympic appearance, she road Orpheus and secured herself a place in the Olympic record books and stands among a select group of women with the longest Olympic competitive careers–28 years.
With success on the international stage and a reputation as one of the country’s most respected trainers, Ransehousen began tenure with the United States Equestrian Team as chef d’equipe for the U.S. dressage program. This collaboration would see ever-strengthening showings by the U.S. program at appearances in the 1992, 1996 and 2000 Olympic Games, the 1990 and 1994 FEI World Equestrian Games, and at the 1991 and 1995 Pan American Games. Her teams were awarded the bronze medal at both the 1996 Atlanta and 2000 Sydney Olympics.
In addition to her many years of work as an FEI “I” and USEF “S” judge, she was a member of the USEF High Performance Dressage Committee, USET Vice-President for Dressage, and former Assistant Secretary of the former American Horse Shows Association (now USEF). And, in 2001, she was inducted into the United States Dressage Federation (USDF) Hall of Fame.
The USEF Lifetime Achievement Award and the Jimmy A. Williams Trophy are given to the horseman or horsewoman whose “life experience and accomplishments exemplify uncommon devotion to the sport of competition with horses and whose equestrian career and horsemanship have continually elevated the sport’s excellence.”
The USEF Lifetime Achievement Award will be formally presented to Ransehousen during the USEF’s 2010 Annual Meeting at the Louisville Downtown Marriott January 16 at the Pegasus Awards dinner where she will be honored by fellow U.S. chef d’equipe and living legend George Morris as well as former team member and six-time Olympic dressage rider Robert Dover.