London Is Calling the 2012 U.S. Paralympic Equestrian Team

Lauren Barwick (CAN) and Off to Paris. PHOTO: Lindsay Yosay McCall

London, England, United Kingdom – August 20, 2012 – With passports in hand and the final tack box loaded, the United States Paralympic Equestrian Team is on their way to London. Chef d’Equipe Missy Ransehousen and equestrians Rebecca Hart, top ten FEI Paralympian Jonathan Wentz, Donna Ponessa, and Dale Dedrick will shortly accompany their horses when they arrive in the United Kingdom. From the logistics of international travel to the intense competition, the United States Para-Equestrian Dressage Team has a lot to look forward to in the coming weeks.

As the only athlete in the Paralympics that has four legs, these high-performance horses will be traveling first-class aboard a FedEx Express MD-11 with the finest of luxuries. The amenities include: groom accompaniment, social interaction when necessary, their own team veterinarian, and a large box stall for each horse.

Once landed the horses will be stabled in Surrey where they will convene with their riders until August 24th when they make their way to Greenwich Park. The horses, grooms, and trunks will go through a strict screening process, which includes detection canines and a full sweep of all compartments within the lorry and trailer. Horses are allowed to begin arriving at the Greenwich Park Equestrian facilities starting August 24, 2012 with the FEI Horse Inspection on August 29, 2012. Seventy-eight horses are expected to arrive at the Paralympic Stables flying, driving, and arriving by water transportation from 26 nations around the world.

Each nation, their staff, and Chef d’Equipe will promptly get into competition mode as they approach the August 30th 9:00 AM start time for Grade II Team Test in front of the sold-out equestrian venue. For Great Britain this is an opportunity to defend their reigning title. Since the 1996 Paralympics in Atlanta where Para-Dressage was included, Great Britain has won the Gold Team Medal at each Paralympics and in 2010 they earned thirteen medals at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in Kentucky. Their team includes Lee Pearson who is a nine-time Paralympic Games Gold medalist including the Sydney, Athens and Beijing Paralympics. Pearson’s teammates include veterans Sophie Wells, Debbie Criddle, and Sophie Christiansen. After a successful 2012 year the United States pulled in to fifth place behind number one Great Britain, number two Germany, third ranked Denmark, and number four Canada. The United States hopes to pull into the top three at the 2012 Paralympics to medal both individually and as a team.

Another equestrian that will be defending her individual Gold medal is Lauren Barwick of Canada. At the 2008 Beijing Paralympics Barwick earned a Silver Medal for her Individual Test and a Gold Medal for her outstanding Freestyle. The Canadian team has had a remarkable year as a whole and has put forth their top four Para-Dressage athletes for the London Games. The team: anchored by Chef d’Equipe Elizabeth Quigg, Para-Equestrian Barwick in Grade II, Eleonore Elstone in Grade IV, Ashley Gowanlock in Grade II, and Grade Ia rider Jody Schloss with horse Inspector Rebus.

The nominated 78 horse and rider combinations will compete for Team Gold, Silver and Bronze which will be calculated based on the top three percentage scores for each country with mixed Grades. The Team calculation will include the Individual and Team Test scores. There will be five sets of medals for each Grade’s Individual test scores in Ia, Ib, II, III, and IV and five sets of medals for each Grade’s Freestyle Test scores.

Past Paralympian Hope Hand who is also President of the United States Para-Equestrian Association will be on the grounds in London rooting on the team and assisting the team when needed. Hope noted, “I am very proud of our Team and know that they will represent the United States honorably. The riders and horses have just completed a weeklong training camp in preparation of the stiff competition they will be facing in London. I wish them great success along with having the time of their lives. At the conclusion of the Games, they will all walk away as proud, Paralympians, an honor that will be theirs forever.”

Rebecca Hart, 27, of Unionville, Penn. and Jessica Ransehousen’s Holsteiner gelding Lord Ludger
Jonathan Wentz, 21, of Richardson, Texas and Kai Handt’s 18-year-old NTEC Richter Scale
Donna Ponessa, 51, of New Windsor, N.Y. and Wesley Dunham’s Oldenburg mare Western Rose
Dale Dedrick, 56, of Ann Arbor, Mich. and her 14-year-old grey Hanoverian Bonifatius
Team Staff:
Missy Ransehousen (Unionville, PA)- Chef d’Equipe
Jim Wolf (Lebanon, NJ)- Chef de Mission
Pam Lane (Gladstone, NJ)- Team Leader
Stacey Kent (Cochranville, PA)- Team Veterinarian

To view an online version of this press release with more photos, please visit:

About United States Para-Equestrian Association:

The USPEA is a network of riders, judges, national federation board members, and equestrian enthusiasts.  The association gives athletes the ability to get involved and expand their knowledge and experience in the Para-Equestrian sport. The USPEA encourages para-athletes to participate in all disciplines under the para-equestrian umbrella.

The USPEA is a recognized affiliate of the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) which serves as the National Governing Body for the equestrian sport.  This relationship between the USPEA and USEF is to encourage para-equestrian competitors, leisure riders, coaches, fans and enthusiasts to network and get involved with the entire equestrian sport.

Ultimately the goal of the USPEA is to foster growth in the para-equestrian discipline.  From growth in the number of participants to growth as a team, and growth in the experience and knowledge of all involved.  From local horse shows to international Olympic Games, the USPEA will provide para-equestrians the knowledge of what they need to succeed.  The USPEA connects with the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI), the United States Dressage Federation (USDF), and USEF which provides Para-Equestrians the top equestrian resources.

In June 2010, the USPEA earned its 501 (c)(3) status which has encouraged supporters to help supply funding to the Para-Equestrian Team as a recognized affiliate of the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF).

For more information about the USPEA please visit or contact USPEA President Hope Hand by e-mail: or by phone: (610)356-6481.

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