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. ritmocojo

    "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."

    And he claims Obama is "out of touch with the American people." Mittens is out of touch with everything, even his own family.

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

    Using horse back riding on a half million dollar horse plus owning a dozen of horses and being able to write them off of your taxes. How can they do it. I ask the tax person if I purchase a horse for therapeutic reason can I write it off my taxes. The answer was people would buy anything and say if was for therapy. In other words hell no.

    August 2, 2012 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  3. roro

    Remember what a drubbing John Kerry took when he went windsurfing? The Republicans called him an elitist, among other nasty things. So how come I don't hear any of that now? Isn't this horse ballet rather elitist? And how does this qualify for a $77,000 tax break? That's more than most Americans earn in a year. And how is this even considered a sport? The guy's just sitting on his duff, while the horse does all the work. I think this is more of a learned skill than an actual sport – on a par with shooting and archery.

    August 2, 2012 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  4. Myviewis

    Go USA Team!!!!!!!!! more power to our athletes!!!!!!!!

    August 2, 2012 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  5. Marie MD

    @David in FL, you know hurt us and his even more evil twin is now running to make it even worse? the war criminal #43. Don't shake your head too much or the hot air might escape.
    I love all animals and Rafalc is a beautiful horse. Her owner, in the other hand, are a family of up yours if yiu are one of those in the "you people" crowd which is about 98% odnthe US population notnjust the press.

    August 2, 2012 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  6. vic , nashville ,tn

    @ southern Hottie
    I totally agree with you

    Nearly 50% Americans having hard time to choose buy dress or pay bill, most couldn’t buy a $10 t shirt if the pays all the bills

    Romney is mega super rich , I am happy but he don’t understand our problems

    August 2, 2012 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  7. Chumlee

    CNN – who cares! This is the $77,000 tax deduction – thanks US taxpayers

    August 2, 2012 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  8. Thomas

    "I have a horse that is going to be fighting for gold in London and I am very excited about that.

    Five sons all avoided voluntary military service .

    70.000 dollar a year tax right off for horse to go to Olympics..

    Go Ann , Go Rafalca !

    August 2, 2012 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  9. Mike

    That $77k tax deduction would have paid the salary of TWO teachers for entire school years. It's good to see why Mitt is opposed to funding those society needs (including teachers, firefighters, and officers): So that we can balance a budget AND afford to make sure the rich have a playground. I bet Geo. Romney is rolling over in disgust at the person his twit became.

    August 2, 2012 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  10. Dan586

    Wow even Romney's horse looks like a snub.

    August 2, 2012 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  11. Sirned

    This horse has nothing to do with her MS. You can buy a decent sweet horse for her therapy for a couple thousand dollars. This horse is probably over 100 thousand dollar horse. It's an ego horse. Nothing wrong with that but her illness has nothing to do with this particular horse... What I do want to know is what did Romney deduct 77 thousand for this horse for? Anne's therapy? Age depreciation? I think it's a sorry state of affairs when a fun horse gets a tax deduction of 77 thousand when millions don't make that in an entire year of hard work....We are witnessing the clueless entitled rich and a piece of how they spend their time and money....And Mitt wants a tax cut..lol

    August 2, 2012 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  12. Ruth Phillips

    I just watched the story about Ann Romney's hore competing in the Olympic's and it makes me very proud of them& the horse .The reporting only shows how missinformed your reporter & commentaters are about the sport of dressage.Many people own horses & their horses make it to the olympics also. It takes years of riding and practice to reach this level of competion.I am a Pediatic nurse and I own 7 horses with my son-in-law & daughter.I love my horses & certainly trust someone who loves horses more than someone who sitts on TV & makes fun of someone for owning & loving a horse.This certainly makes me like Mitt Romney & his wife more. This story just made me decide who I can trust.I am almost 73 yrs.old& so much of the reporting disgusts me.What do you people Know? Have you ever heard of special equestriians?

    August 2, 2012 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  13. Alina1

    Well, now his horse is fully qualified for thousands and thousands of dollars in tax refunds, from that horrible horrible Government that he "hates" so much.

    August 2, 2012 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  14. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    They couldn't find a Chinese flag so the put an American flag on the horse. What a shame.Tax evading draft dodging outsourcing elitist.

    August 2, 2012 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  15. rms

    She isn't even riding the horse for crying out loud – she is just co-owner. She owns the horse and rides him for pleasure and pays someone else to care for him and train him for competition. Dressage is however the highest equestrian level of training for both horse and rider. It is beautiful to watch and takes hours and hours of training and dedication from both the horse and rider. There also are plenty of programs which use horses and riding for therapy.

    August 2, 2012 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  16. winky

    Just sad to exploit their Rich butts in front of the American people and then laugh at us!

    August 2, 2012 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  17. TBS

    I have a lot of stress in my life. I own two dogs, and they help to lessen my stress. Can I claim them for a tax deduction? By the way, I barely earn $45 grand a year. The Romnneys are so out of touch with the vast majority of Americans!!

    August 2, 2012 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  18. Lilli

    I have great admiration for Ann Romney. She raised a family of boys. She's fought cancer, and MS.
    Who among you would want to fight either of those diseases? Maybe as a child she watched the Summer Olympics and the horses and dreamed of having a horse and completing . How many little girls have wanted to be in gymnastics because they saw those athletes? How can any of you know what's in her heart? I am so tired of the double standard for democratic women and conservative women. I'm sure if the Obamas had a horse in the Olympics it would be a different story. If Michele were suffering from MS and using horses to ease her pain, then you'd all say what a wonderful thing it was....
    Well let me tell you, I support Mitt Romney, and I ain't rich. I'm just one of those poor dumb conservatives clinging to my bible and gun while I eat Chick Fil La

    August 2, 2012 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  19. cooper

    Here come the hateful comments about The Romneys. It is the Economy!!!!!!! Obama is over his head and had not done what he promised. Do not be distracted. It is the Economy!!!!! No jobs, nothing

    August 2, 2012 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  20. Kay

    Gosh, such hatefull comments and really shows the ignorace of those that have never been involved with horses. This is a beautiful animal. Yes, horses are fantastic therapy. Just google Horse therapy. There are many centers that offer this for autistic, physically challenged and abused people. Who the hell cares if its on his tax scrolls. You folks sound so jelouse that these people have money. Every president has money. You people act like not showing his tax returns is bad. Would you show your personal information? And why aren't you harping on the fact Obama hasn't showed his school records or real birth certificate. For that matter the documents from Fast and Furious-he doesn't want to show something, just do an executive order and thats it-you sheeples accept it. Just so much hate between people and no rash thinking. Me on the other hand would love to have a horse lover in the whitehouse. Do you know that Obama signed the bill to bring back horse slaughter in America? Our wild horses, and perfectly good horses end up in slaughter houses just to justify the foriegn countries fancy taste buds. Why doesn't this piss you off? Its for the rich! Why isn't this even being discussed? I suppose since king Obama stated its okay, you sheeples and media just not question it. Out of site out of mind. Just google what a horse goes thru during the kill pen to the slaughter process. This process was not meant for horses. Most are alive when they hang them up by a back leg. But anyway, it will be nice to have a pro horse person in there. And for most of you illiterates, the owner usually never rides their horse at this level. Even me as showing a breed in the US (And I make less than 40K yr) will hire a professional if I'm building points on that mare-and Im not showing my tax records to anyone. The wins help increase value to the bloodline, babes, and brings recognition to the sport and barn and the person showing it. There is also a team that is picked. A person in that team shows the horse. Dressage is a beautiful sport and shows very intense training the horse has gone thru. You sheeples need to for one day, just find the beauty in something.

    August 2, 2012 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  21. Alina1

    Romney is rich and i happy for him, its just that I don't think he should be a President because he doesn't know my life, he heard about it but doesn't really know it. Out of touch with the middles class President worse then anything at this point.

    To see how Romney arrived at the large deduction, let’s look at how Rafalca’s needs stack up against those of the average American family:
    Sheltering the average family for a year: $16,352; sheltering Rafalca: $28,800. Clothing the average family: $1,142; clothing Rafalca: $10,000. Annual health care costs for the average American family: $1,557; health care costs for Rafalca: $2,000. Transporting the average American family: $7,164; transporting Rafalca: $15,420.

    August 2, 2012 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  22. McShannon

    Mitt isn’t just horsing around, he has a tax deduction that is more than most of us make in today’s economy and that’s just from one horse. Hold your nose high Mitt it’s befitting of you.

    August 2, 2012 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  23. PJ

    I agree, that is a beautiful horse. Rafalca doesn't have a clue about who owns her. I hope she wins because,
    after all, she is the one doing all of the work.

    August 2, 2012 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  24. Miki801

    Caligula, while Roman emperor, declared his horse a senator, maybe we have the VP candidate. He caused a $770K tax deduction on even more expenses. More tax deduction than I made in total income over ten years. Nice to know that his HORSE is in the one percent.

    August 2, 2012 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  25. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    Its been a dream of millions of American families to live the American Dream, to send their kids off to college and to retire with a a pension. Unfortunately that dream is short live because the Mitt Robme's of the world are making sure that the 1%ers forge ahead while the rest of us get poorer and eat at soup kitchens. Elitists!

    August 2, 2012 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
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