June 4, 2015 -- Margaret McIntosh of Reading , Penn. and her horse Rio Rio completed a successful European competition trip. McIntosh is the 2014 U.S. Para-Equestrian Dressage Reserve National Champion and a Grade Ia Para-Dressage athlete. McIntosh traveled to Waregem, Belgium April 24-26, 2015, to ride in the International Para-Equestrian Dressage Competition CPEDI3*. The event was held at the Bloso Sportcentrum "Gaverbeerk" in Waregem. McIntosh then traveled to Mannheim, Germany May 1-5, for the MaiMarkt ( May Market) Horse Show CPEDI3*. For McIntosh this European trip was an opportunity to showcase her horse Rio Rio in front of multiple FEI Para-Dressage judges. It was also a chance to gain show miles and expertise while riding against the best Para-Dressage athletes in the world. McIntosh earned her horse and rider combination Certificate of Capability for the 2016 U.S. Paralympic Equestrian Team Selection Trials while competing overseas. McIntosh was accompanied by her coach Missy Ransehousen who was the former U.S. Chef d'Equipe for the Para-Dressage Team.
Waregem was the first competition stop where McIntosh competed at the expansive grounds of the Waregem riding school. McIntosh and Rio Rio were consistent earning a second place finish in the Individual, Team, and Freestyle Tests. McIntosh took the judges remarks and headed over to Mannheim, Germany where the electrifying atmosphere of the large equestrian venue was no issue for the Rheinland Pfalz-Saar. The first day at Mannheim was cold and rainy for the Team Test and the duo completed a sluggish but correct Grade Ia Test. The second day McIntosh picked up the pace and earned a 70.1%. McIntosh maintained Rio Rio's pace on the final day and earned a 74% third place finish in the Freestyle, behind World Equestrian Games' medal winners Sara Morganti with an 80% and Elke Philips with a 75%.
McIntosh commented, "While Rio's relaxed attitude can be an advantage, at the beginning of our tour we struggled with the judges requests for more energy and more activity. Missy Ransehousen, my coach and Rachel Gross, my warm-up rider, helped me channel the maximum amount of energy into her dressage tests."
McIntosh's scores abroad earned her a horse and rider combination Certificate of Capability for the 2016 U.S. Paralympic Equestrian Team Selection Trials held in 2016. McIntosh has also qualified for the 2015 USEF Para-Equestrian Dressage National Championship held October 29-November 1, 2015, at the Great Southwest Equestrian Center in Katy, TX.
McIntosh concluded, "We accomplished our goal for the trip by showing the European judges that Rio Rio could be competitive with the best European horses, including medal winners from last year's World Equestrian Games"
Following McIntosh fellow U.S. Para-Dressage athletes Rebecca Hart, Annie Peavy, and Debbie Stanitski head to Europe this June to compete in the 2015 CPEDI3* Somma Lombardo (ITA) June 11-14, and the 2015 CPEDI3* Mulhouse (FRA) June 18-21.
April 24-26, 2015 CPEDI3* Waregem, Belgium
Freestyle 71.3 % 2nd place
Individual 67.8% 2nd place
Team 69.739 2nd place
May 01-05, 2015 CPEDI3* Mannheim, Germany
Freestyle 74.75 3rd place
Individual 71.0% 5th place
Team test 69.2% 5th place
About Gigi McIntosh: Margaret McIntosh broke her neck in the spring of 1999 while riding in an event, resulting in incomplete quadriplegia. Initially paralyzed from the chest down, she is eternally grateful for having the opportunity to regain her mobility. McIntosh had extensive riding experience before her accident: 1970-1976 Working student for May and Denny Emerson; 1976-1979 Working student and barn manager for Gunnar Ostergaard and Ellin Dixon; 1979-1983 Working student/groom George Theodorescu in Sassenberg, W. Germany; From 1987 through 1999 Gigi evented several horses with lots of help from Bruce Davidson, culminating in completing the CCI*** and CCI**** at Rolex Kentucky 3-Day in 1997 and 1998. Six months after her accident she began riding with Jane Cory, the owner of the Cort Center for Therapeutic Riding at Pleasant Hollow Farm in Pleasant Valley, PA.
She initially asked Missy and Jessica Ransehousen for help just before the World Equestrian Games in 2010 and has enjoyed their expertise ever since. In 2012, McIntosh qualified for the London 2012 selection trials including successful trips at back-to-back CPEDI ***s in Wellington, FL. McIntosh was also the Reserve Champion at the 2014 USEF Para-Equestrian Dressage National Championships. Married since 1983, with two grown children (Charlotte (27) and Cameron (25)), and her husband, Brian, a retired banker. McIntosh is now aiming at the 2016 Paralympics in Rio Di Janiero with her own Rio Rio.