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. tokencode

    Say whatever yo want about the horse, but Romney wasn't intelligent enough to see how his wife's horse competing in dressage would be viewed negatively, then well he's an idiot.

    August 2, 2012 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  2. Doug in NYC

    You right wingers just don't get it. We don't care if RobMe is rich, we don't care that he spends money on dancing horses. What we do care about is his LIES. "I had nothing to do with Bain" Yet SEC filings clearly show he did. The dancing horse is for Ann's therapy, I don't see Ann riding the horse in the olympics, so how exactly is it therapy?

    He's not releasing his tax returns for maybe several reason. He didn't pay any taxes, he LIED to the Mass Board of Elections to run for Governor and his taxes show he filed as a resident of Utah. He in FACT did have a lot to do with Bain and his taxes show he received a salary equal to or in excess of $100,000 and has therefore LIED to the American people. His taxes show the write off for a "Therapy Horse" and being it's in the Olympics it's far from therapy at this point.

    So to you right wingers, it is MY money that was spent, in the form of tax refunds, for the care of a "Therapy Horse" that ISN'T providing any therapy to Marie "Ann"-toinette RobMe.

    Bottom line Willard RobMe is a LIAR and FRAUD Wanna-Be-Presidential candidate and Twit as the British tabloids put it. Even Rubberts own!!

    August 2, 2012 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  3. lindylou123

    WHY do they legally get to deduct $70,000 plus for their HOBBY?
    I don't earn half that much in a year and probably pay more taxes than the Romneys. I have an arabian horse but can't deduct his expense for my hobby of trail riding? Unequal again! Make it a crime to offshore money to keep from paying American taxes that are due – that is certainly a crime

    August 2, 2012 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  4. Sandra

    Its not a disgrace if Romney's health care plan buys each American who has any illness a horse, and the medical plan pays for the feed, boarding, vet bills, and groomed trails for the health care recipient to ride to good health! If not, then it is a disgrace that the 1% get to write off hobbies on their taxes.

    My hobbies include gardening, playing guitar, and piano. I have never been able to write those expenses off on my taxes, and they are all critical to my mental health!

    August 2, 2012 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  5. don

    I suppose the NASCAR and NFL Team owners share Anne's admiration for the earthy quality of having "skills" rather than just the guile and guts to OWN the process.
    A different type of people.
    Very different.

    August 2, 2012 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  6. FLIndependent

    @Ruth – "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"
    Seems you're an animal lover so how do you feel about Mitt sticking his dog on the roof of his car while traveling?? BTW, Mitt is the one running for POTUS, not Ann and seems like Mitt isn't really interested in the horse.

    August 2, 2012 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  7. Janni

    Wonder if he flew the poor horse on top of the airplane in a crate like he did his dog on the car!!!:)

    August 2, 2012 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  8. sherry

    At Olympic level of competition $77,000.00 is probably a bargain, considering the cost of the best farriers, vets, trainers and cost of US Equestrian Dressage shows. Enough to keep a family of four quite comfortable.

    August 2, 2012 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  9. Rudy NYC


    Supposedly the tax deduction was for medical expenses. Supposedly the horse was used as a therapy animal to help with Mrs. Romney's MS. The use of animal therapy is perfectly legitimate to help folks with various issues, including MS. What I want to know is how much time and therapy was involved to justify the claim. How much time did she spend with the horse, was it intended to be for theraputic purposes, and did it help. An Olympic dressage competitor AND a therapy animal; that's one heck of a horse there.
    I guess she stood up and clapped her hands a lot.

    August 2, 2012 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  10. lindylou123

    WHY does he get to deduct more than $70,000 for his wife's HOBBY? If she rode the horse for therapeutic reasons than lets see her get up on him and ride him today. They can do this, and they can hide money offshore because they are RICH and don't you know that means ABOVE the LAW – Romney's tax plan will take $2000 out of my pocket to give to the likes of him and Ann and their hobby! NO ROMNEY! NO ROMNEY! NO ROMNEY! He is dangerous, a liar and a cheat who wants more war so he can enrich his weapons manufacturing companies

    August 2, 2012 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  11. Bob

    Wow, and the Republicans said Sen. John Kerry was "elistist" just because he went windsurfing! Meanwhile, the Romneys are into horse ballet and riding around lakes on top-of-the-line jet skis (required athletic skill = zero) with Ann at the controls and Mittens passively sitting behind her, just along for the ride.

    August 2, 2012 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  12. cali girl

    eh, Mr Ed was more interesting.

    August 2, 2012 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  13. FLIndependent

    @Kay – "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"
    Seriously Kay?? Every presidential candidate has released multiple years of tax returns so why does Romney think he can get away with it and, even more so, why is he trying to? He is definitely hiding something he doesn't want the public to know because it will cause him a huge loss (he's going to lose anyway). If President Obama did this don't even pretend you and others wouldn't be screaming from the mountaintops that Obama is hiding and it is our right to know. As far as President Obama not releasing college records and whatever else you all can't get over, no other candidate has needed to do so so why do you all hold our POTUS to a higher standard (never mind, we know the answer!!)

    August 2, 2012 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  14. Anonymous

    Flomney is going to get another tax break on his 2012 tax return for the cost of the Olympic horse(s) in London.

    August 2, 2012 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  15. Rudy NYC


    Wonder if he flew the poor horse on top of the airplane in a crate like he did his dog on the car!!!:)
    They actually have specially designed aircraft for the elite horses like this one.

    August 2, 2012 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  16. tinasni

    1. You deserve good healthcare only if you work and pay for it.
    2. The Romney's do not need to explain their purchase of a horse with money they earned to anyone.
    3. Anyone who thinks dressage is not athletic or requires skill is ignorant and never been on a horse.

    August 2, 2012 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  17. Sirned

    I think what is telling about the Romneys is that they aren't earning anything they are trying to buy a medal.... If Anne were riding then I'd have great admiration for her being talented enough to be a contender in an Olyplic dressage.event ..Using your wealth to try and buy amedal just feeds into the elitist out of touch image they already have....And deserve

    August 2, 2012 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  18. tinasni

    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.

    August 2, 2012 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  19. trex

    ..............FINALLY.......................a Romney.....that KNOWS WHAT THEY ARE DOING..........................

    August 2, 2012 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  20. cynthia

    Wonder if Kevin Liptak saw the Maddow Show on Romney Tax returns - seems he claimed the dressage horse as "business expense" on 2010 return -- ?????????

    August 2, 2012 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  21. winterfling

    "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." (From the above article)

    Seems like a lot of people, INCLUDING THE JOURNALISTS, are missing something here and it's big to me. All this hoopla about Ann Romney taking up dressage after getting MS, is a half truth at best! This woman has had horses all of her life, I have seen accounts of Mitt saying he saw her first as a young girl, ON HER PONY. Other accounts speak of her horse in college, more than likely she took a horse to school with her and rode in intercollegiate competition.

    My point? You don't have to be wealthy to be a horse owner but to have horses that compete A circuit much less Olympic caliber, well, that's big bucks. What gripes me is the LYING about taking up dressage for medicinal purposes only! Ha! Playing for sympathy, yes, I really feel sorry for you Ann Romney.

    I would assume she was doing something more strenuous like hunter/ jumper, Grand Prix or 3 day eventing or 3 phasing before her illness and switched to dressage only because it's on the flat.
    I wouldn't care if she had 20 horses, but using her MS to hide her money spent on horses is an insult to all of the people who suffer from this disease. What a piece of !!!!!!!!.

    August 2, 2012 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  22. 6km North of GZero

    The horse was born in GERMANY foks! I hope Michell Bachman finds out whether disaffected German elements are sneaking into US Gub-ment affairs.

    August 2, 2012 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  23. Charlotte

    Why can't I take a tax deduction for MY horses?? Or at least the one I compete on??? No fair. And I'm far from a millionaire, can barely make my mortgage because of the cost of the horses......Wait – don't tell me they used it as a medical expense!!! Doctor's orders, get a horse.... However @Disgusted is wrong, Dressage is NOT any more useless than motorcycling, boating, stained glass-making, playing the piano, figure skating or camping. Everyone has his passion and it's not for some turd to pass judgment on one's sport of choice. But taking a tax deduction for it when you are already stinking rich? That's kind of sleazy.

    August 2, 2012 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  24. glorydays

    May I remind you how many horses on this circuit are cared for by "illegal" immigrants? Just ask Lou Dobbs.....

    August 2, 2012 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  25. Governor 47th In Job Creation (Excluding Off-shored to China and India)

    So the wimp bailed on his wife because being there at an "elitist" event makes for bad optics continuing to portray him as an out of touch rich guy. He's going to be an out of touch guy no matter if he's here in mom jeans or there in London insulting our friends in the UK. Whiskey Delta.

    August 2, 2012 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
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