Horserace turns (almost) literal in London
Jan Ebeling rides Rafalca in the Dressage Grand Prix at Greenwich Park in London
August 2nd, 2012
08:52 AM ET
2 years ago

Horserace turns (almost) literal in London

(CNN) – The political horserace turned into an actual horserace Thursday in London. Or at least a horse ballet.

Rafalca, the mare co-owned by Ann Romney, made her Olympics debut at Greenwich Park, competing in the individual Dressage Grand Prix event against a crowded field that included horses from at least seventeen other nations.

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Rafalca and her rider Jan Ebeling scored a 70.243 in the first round of competition, which put them in thirteenth place after one day of competition.

The next round takes place Friday.

Rafalca earned her spot on the U.S. Olympic team in June, when she placed third in the Olympic Grand Prix Special Test, held in Gladstone, New Jersey.

Dressage requires a combination of "the strength and agility of gymnastics with the elegance and beauty of ballet," according to the U.S. Equestrian Federation. The sport takes place in an arena and routines are judged on "accuracy of the transitions (changes of gait), obedience, suppleness of the horse, quality of the gaits, and the rider's use of aids."

Ann began riding horses when she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1998, and has said the sport has helped lessen the symptoms of the inflammatory disease.

In an interview soon after Rafalca qualified for the London Games, Ann Romney said she was "excited, honestly, to be able to represent the United States."

"I have a horse that is going to be fighting for gold in London and I am very excited about that. Wow! It has been a dream of mine for a long, long time, ever since I was a little girl," Romney continued.

Romney said she did ride Rafalca herself, but the level of competition in London was beyond her abilities.

"I do ride this horse, but not in competition," Romney said. "People say, 'Well you can ride at that level,' and I say, "Well…" It's like being the country club pro in one place, and then going to Wimbledon. You don't understand how professional these riders are that are riding at this level. It's quite competitive."

Mitt Romney, however, said as the Olympics began last week that he would not watch Rafalca and Ebeling compete.

"I'm not even sure which day the sport goes on," Romney said on NBC. "She will get the chance to see it, I will not be watching the event."

The Democratic National Committee briefly used video of the Romney's Olympic-bound horse to portray the candidate as "dancing around the issues," but later discontinued using Rafalca because it could be seen as offensive to the GOP candidate's wife.

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Filed under: Ann Romney • Olympics
soundoff (318 Responses)
  1. george of the jungle

    they should srick to horses and stay out of politics/

    August 2, 2012 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  2. drake mallard

    can i put my dancing dog on my taxes deduction like romney horse?

    August 2, 2012 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  3. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    I have a horse that is going to be fighting for gold in London and I am very excited about that. Wow! It has been a dream of mine for a long, long time, ever since I was a little girl," Romney continued.
    -------------------------------------------------
    Well, glad tthat you were able to buy your dream come true.
    Your husband, on the other hand, killed many American dreams when he outsourced thousands of jobs overseas as governor and a vulture capitalist.
    We're going to ensure that HIS dream doesn't come true this November.
    By the way, 6th place does NOT bode well for your little pony.

    August 2, 2012 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  4. Fair is Fair

    This one should be good for some of the most disgusting hate-filled comments you've ever seen... may even compete with a Palin article on the Hate-O-Meter.

    August 2, 2012 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  5. Malory Archer

    Judging by that horse's body language, he doesn't care much for his "owner". It looks like it's trying to get away from her!

    August 2, 2012 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  6. quinLee

    Who gives a Rafalca!?! The $77000 tax credit the Romney’s received in 2010 for their horse is more than I make in a year. Yet I'm supposed to believe this guy understands my world or what affects any average American for that matter. Please!!!

    August 2, 2012 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  7. docdeb

    This million dollar horse, its care and training are no doubt deducted as medical expenses for Ann's MS (therapy) and that is one reason he won't release his tax returns.

    August 2, 2012 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  8. SOUTHERN HOTTIE

    How, exactly, does riding a horse lessen symptoms of MS? What patients with MS can afford a horse to lessen his or her symptoms? Only the rich, obviously. And that's fine. But let us get real. Ann Romney does not have a clue how the majority of the American middle class lives. And neither does Mitt Romney.

    August 2, 2012 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  9. Gouda

    Not necessarily political news, but why is this even an Olympic sport? If seating on your duff and steering is all you need, then I nominate go-kart racing

    August 2, 2012 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  10. Mike - Dallas

    So... she started riding horses in 1998, but has dreamed of having a horse in the Olypics since she was a little girl. #PHONEY

    August 2, 2012 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  11. Rosslaw

    The first tax deduction in history to appear at the Olympics. Makes you proud to be an American.

    August 2, 2012 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  12. A Kickin` Donkey

    So let me get this straight: Mrs. Romney says that "THEY" haven`t made a decision on a VEEP candidate yet as though she is a formal elected official that is part of the critical decision making process but when it comes to the elitist, sissy "sport" of prancing horses, Mitt Romney doesn`t own the horse even though it was HIS salary/ earnings that bought & housed Rafalka.

    I`ll bey Mitt has been to these competitions BEFORE, hasn`t he? So why run from it now Mitt? Why try to fool us and push all this off on your wife. Man up you WUS. If you like ballet, just say so!

    August 2, 2012 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  13. Nelson Colorado Springs Co.

    Good looking horse

    August 2, 2012 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  14. Desmond, a Canadian

    Rafalca would certainly make a better GOP candidate!

    August 2, 2012 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  15. David in FL

    Fair is Fair
    This one should be good for some of the most disgusting hate-filled comments you've ever seen... may even compete with a Palin article on the Hate-O-Meter.
    __________________________________________________________

    Let the trolling begin. I really hope all of the haters on this board grow up get wealthy and then be constantly bombarded with envy, jealousy, distrust and hatred because of it, so they can truly appreciate what they dish out... until that unlikely event, I can only shake my head and wonder who hurt these people

    August 2, 2012 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  16. Clint

    If this is Ann's "life-long dream", why isn't she riding her horse.

    August 2, 2012 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  17. Expat American

    It's like being the country club pro in one place, and then going to Wimbledon.
    ------
    It’s refreshing to know that Ann Romney really feels the struggles of those she dismisses as ‘you people’.
    That's what America needs in a First Lady right now.
    God bless her.

    August 2, 2012 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  18. slk

    If Rafalca should win gold..............would the IRS want some of this $$$$$$also ? Uh oh..................
    another record........? Gotta hide that.

    August 2, 2012 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  19. gary

    Cool.... What a great story!!! Way to go Ann... bring home another GOLD for the USA!!!!!

    August 2, 2012 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  20. scmaize

    That's a beautiful horse! I don't care for Mitt Romney, but I see nothing wrong with the Romneys having horses. They are wealthy, and they are entitled to spend their own money on anything they want. All this focus on horses, clothes, whatever, is a distraction from the issues. Mitt Romney empowering the rich while the rest of us are forgotten is important. Worrying about what a candidates wife spends on clothes? I think we've all forgotten how to mind our own business.

    August 2, 2012 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  21. ntierney

    Dressage IS a sport and an incredibly difficult one. Most riders who have ridden their entire lives cannot attain the skill and discipline it takes to ride to this level. It's the hardest skill I've ever tried to learn.

    August 2, 2012 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  22. Jack in Florida

    Dressage, the common folk sport of choice!! Really?? So out of touch with "the commoner".

    August 2, 2012 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  23. Balanced99

    Really – This makes the headlines? Nothing on the jobless numbers? Nothing on gas prices? CNN has become a complete joke. Sadder are the pure haters that eat this junk up.

    Why don't they start a ticker on the number of fund raisers Obama attends and or rounds of golf (both more than his last three predecessors combined).

    Oh wait – that would be news but not good for Obama (forget I asked).

    August 2, 2012 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  24. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    Rafalea's in 6th place? I thought anything under 4th in unacceptable? Hehe! Elitist!

    August 2, 2012 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  25. ABCD

    Sorry, I do not mean to insult anyone. Can those who are unfortunately blind and use dogs, send them to any competition? I do not get it Ann Romney use her horse as medicine for MS and still involve it in luxuries!!!!!!

    August 2, 2012 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
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