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
9 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. The Real Tom Paine


    Give it up you class-warfare obsessed know nothings! Obviously the Romneys have the financial ability to buy nice horses and have them trained by good trainers (good for them) but there are TONS of horse lovers around the world who scrimp and save and go without in order to own a horse or participate in equestrian activities. The sport is expensive but is not exclusive to the wealthy. I have been involved in the horse industry for years–and I'm not rich. I have made sacrifices, I drive a car (not a Benz or a Bentley!) w/ almost 300,000 miles on it. I work hard but rather than spend money on cars, clothes or other status symbols, I have chosen to spend what I can on horses. Their therapeutic value simply can't be disputed or overstated. I hope Ann's horse wins gold! Get a life and quit trying to incite class warfare. There are plenty of average Joe's who own horses...and support Mitt Romney.
    Really? W'ere jealous? Strange, but based on your logic the country should be crawling with equestrian teams because economics does not enter into it. Why do you suppose there is a lack of blue-collar types doing Dressage? I'm glad to hear you have been willing to sacrifice so much for the sport you love, but your sport is disproportionately dominated by people who have the economic means to indulge themselves. I guess this make you the Tonya Harding of the equestrian world. Sorry, not buying your thesis. I dislike Romney because he is an out-of-touch preppie with aristocratic tendencies ( I should know, I attended private school with enough of them to spot the type) who does not have a clue as to what the rest of us do.

    August 2, 2012 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  2. Karina

    How pathetic and stupid Americans have become.
    In the spirit of the Olympic Games can't you just see a rider and its horse competing.
    I guess not .

    August 2, 2012 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  3. Hey, Mittens, got any more of those 100K Bain jobs for doing nothing? 'Call Me, Maybe'?

    "I'm a liberal Democrat who would not ever consider voting for Romney, but I'm asking that people leave Ann Romney and her horse out of politics – completely out of politics"

    I agree but when Annie said "YOU PEOPLE are not going to see any more tax returns" ANNIE stepped in the "horse apples" and pasted "cross-hairs" on her own visage.

    Sure, she was just getting in touch with her "inner Marie Antionette" and "let them eat cake" persona.

    So, no whining when 'Someone Left the Cake Out in the Rain'.

    August 2, 2012 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  4. Steve in texas

    Nothing says understanding the problems of the working class like having two horses in the Olympics.

    August 2, 2012 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  5. DFW Dann

    Looks like Romney's horse had a better showing in London than he did.

    August 2, 2012 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  6. snowdogg

    Is Mitt hot to trot? or not?

    August 2, 2012 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  7. Governor 47th In Job Creation (Excluding Off-shored to China and India)

    Rudy NYC

    NFLFan77 wrote:

    ...I have made sacrifices, I drive a car (not a Benz or a Bentley!) w/ almost 300,000 miles on it. I work hard but rather than spend money on cars, clothes or other status symbols, I have chosen to spend what I can on horses....
    So, instead of spending your money on status symbols, you spend what you can on horses. Got it.

    Stop inciting class warfare Rudy, just sit back and take it while Willard continues the ummm shall we call it class beatings (?) by giving more breaks to himself while the middle class hands over their monies. Poor NFL has been asleep while the class warfare has been conducted during the trickle up Reagan and Bush o-nomics.

    August 2, 2012 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  8. Anonymous

    Karina- they are. And if you remember before Romney left on his "vacation" he said this was not a politcal trip. Yet he kept opening his mouth, inserting his foot and removing it just long enough to make it political.
    He can't have it both ways. He could have gone and doen what michelle Obama did- watch the Olympics.

    August 2, 2012 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  9. jwalk

    Jackie O and Ronnie Reagan had horses. Why is this different?

    August 2, 2012 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  10. budtarken

    As a devote cult elder in the Mormon church wonder how Romney will budget things like science areas? I mean heck his prophet Thomas Monsoon ensures the flock that the earth is only 12,000 years old tops. God put dinosaur bones into the dirt when he created the planet. Geez really? This must be a joke.

    August 2, 2012 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  11. budtarken

    I wonder what the poor people are doing my eternal wife? Tis such a shame many know nothing of God let alone of how magnificant of an animal Gods horses are. Mitt Romney

    August 2, 2012 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  12. Russ in Maryland

    @ Paine
    "the economic means to indulge themselves" which means they hire somone to trian, feed, maintain, and even clean the liberal ideology that come out of the south end of a north bound horse. Maybe you should ask the hired help to give up there jobs to protest the so called out of touch and obscenely rich.

    August 2, 2012 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  13. v_mag

    The righties always trot out some figure like 52% of Americans don't pay taxes. But of course, we all pay taxes. Property taxes (renters pay their landlord's property taxes), sales taxes, assorted fees for vehicles and whatever the government can dream up. When it comes to income taxes, some folks are so broke from paying everything else they owe that there is nothing left to tax.

    And then, there's the rich. They often pay nothing, or very little in income taxes, after all their special welfare benefits are factored in. (Remember Leona Helmsley, the heiress who said that only the little people pay taxes?) Isn't it curious that they should have special breaks that are not available to the rest of us? And they give to politicians in such large amounts? Is there a correlation between those facts?

    Don't worry. They get back far more than they give. It's what rich people call an "investment". They're buying an asset (i.e., politician) when they contribute to a campaign.

    August 2, 2012 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  14. GOPlies

    Glad to see their write off made it to the olympics

    August 2, 2012 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  15. Russ in Maryland

    Based on what most of the Obomabots comments here I think that we should not even participate in the Olympics. It's just to expensive. Even a natural athlete like Phelps cost the tax payer hundreds of thousands if not millions to train. Screw it, save the money and bring everyone home.

    August 2, 2012 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  16. Jeb

    Romney got a $77,000 tax break for this hobby horse.

    Add to this his millions hidden offshore accounts to avoid taxes and his promise to lower his taxes even more if he's elected.

    What a patriot!

    August 2, 2012 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  17. shoos

    I love the people that don't know anything about dressage comment how its sitting on your duff and steering. That's a laugh and a half.

    August 2, 2012 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  18. Larry L


    1. If Obama cares so much about tax honesty why did he hire Tim Geitner?
    2. The Romneys do not owe anyone an explanation of how they spend their own money.
    3. Anyone who thinks dressage is not an athletic sport has never ridden a horse.
    1. He hired Tim Geitner to sort out the mess left behind by "W".
    2. The Romney's owe an explanation to the American people as to why they're hiding their tax returns.
    3. The organ grinder has to turn the handle while the monkey dances... is that an Olympic sport?

    August 2, 2012 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
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