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. Charlotte

    @lindylou, Ann Romney has said herself that her riding is not to that level. So even if she rides for therapeutic reasons, she wouldn't qualify to ride in the Olympics (even if her horse does). Doesn't mean she doesn't ride for therapy. On the other hand, to ride for therapy one does not need a $77,000.00 horse, one could find a perfectly acceptable one with pretty good training level for around $5,000.00. Given the amount of money they have, though, why would they bother looking for a bargain. The sleazy part is that they turned around and deducted it. aLTHOUGH ....... it's perfectly legal. Tsk.

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

    If I were Ann Romney I would be outraged that my husband doesn't even know what DAY my horse is competing, when this is something that she says she has dreamed of ever since she was a little girl. To me, that shows remarkable indifference by Mitt. While he is clearly trying to distance himself from this for political reasons, to me it just shows how uncaring he really is. If he truly loved his wife, then he would at least know what DAY his wife's lifelong dream is unfolding – regardless of the political fallout. Show a little spine and tell everyone this is his wife's dream, he supports and loves her and he's going to root for her (and the U.S.!).

    August 2, 2012 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  3. ED FL

    did the horse answer any questions or did it only speak to it's staff .Like it.sowners probably was checking on it's hidden bank accounts that are dodging lawful taxes in it's own country.

    August 2, 2012 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  4. Miroslava

    Poor horse.

    August 2, 2012 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  5. JC in Western U.S.

    Ann Romney has a right to do whatever she wants to do with her money, and if anyone would like to trade places with her and have Multiple Sclerosis, a progressively degenerative disease with no known cure, I'm sure she'd consider the trade.

    It's unfortunate that her interest in and passion for a sport that is iconic of the super wealthy makes her husband seem removed from the daily life of the average person, and arguably he is removed from the daily life of the average person, but there's plenty of evidence of that to use without making it difficult for his wife to enjoy something that gives her pleasure and respite from a horrible disease that no sane person would wish on any human being.

    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.

    August 2, 2012 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  6. Rudy NYC

    Why are Mitt Romney's tax returns so important? Because when he released his 2010 tax return he had to REVISE his financial disclosure statement to the FEC. He had no choice.

    What revisions did he have to make? His statement omitted the now notorious Caymans Islands accounts, Swiss bank accounts, and a company in Bermuda. Those are some pretty significant and glaring omissions. Wouldn't you say?

    August 2, 2012 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  7. artraveler

    They had to claim the horse as a businesse expense because your ability to deduct anything on Schedule A decreases until it goes to zero ($-0-) at his income level. Ergo, it can't be a medical deduction but business? How does his wife's therapy horse enhance his business. He can't even claim as business entertainment if he doesn't even go to see the horse perform. And no tax returns because (1) he didn't pay taxes for 10 years per a Bain associate or (2) he ran for governor of Mass while a legal resident of Utah for tax purposes or (3) what else is out there??? The Republicans are buying a pig-in-a-poke and he is already shown himself to be 67% of a Harvard-educated East Coast elitest LIBERAL.

    August 2, 2012 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  8. Lisa P


    Hooray. This is a banner day for Americans. I have always dreamed of having a horse worth millions of dollars so I can pay a professional athlete to ride it in an olympic event. My hourse would need to be flown over to England in a private jet with a team of trainers and handlers. Don't forget the horse needs a dietician as well. Just regular folks who identify with people like me. I taught my cat to dance but he's not good enough to be in the olympics.
    August 2, 2012 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm

    Wow! My cat just sits there. I guess I need a more expensive cat, or a more expensive trainer...

    Joking aside, the big problem I see with handing over the country to the rich is that the rich are such lousy problem solvers. They tend to pick the wrong problems to start with, but even when they figure out the real problem they tend to think it can be solved by money, and if the solution they bought doesn't work very well? Paper it over with yet more money. Low and middle income people with a family member who might benefit from riding therapy probably could have found a cheaper solution than a $250,000 Olympic-level dressage horse. Leave those to the people who can actually ride at that level, or the ones who want to support them in order to feed their own inflated sense of power and vanity. It would do the rich, and the country, some good if they had a couple fewer $ millions to waste on nothing.

    August 2, 2012 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  9. Willard Mittens

    You know how hard it is to strap that thing to the roof of my car ?

    August 2, 2012 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  10. JerseyGirl

    "To me, that shows remarkable indifference by Mitt."

    What do you expect from the Robo-romney? Compassion? Caring? Concern? Never, not from the new Republicans.
    I hope all of them are thrown out in the elections. Then we can get the country moving again. But as long as the Party of No is there, we are biding time.

    August 2, 2012 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  11. Alfuc

    Hey Mr.Romney, we the American people are waiting for your TAX RETURNS for the past 10 years! RELEASE THEM NOW.

    August 2, 2012 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  12. Sirned

    JC...No one is putting her down or mocking her MS...But as an owner of horses all my life I can tell you therapy horses just have to have sweet dispositions and you can own one for very little money... I have never heard anyone I ride with who owned their own horse ever say they deducted their horse on their taxes. If someone told me that I would think their cheating on their tax returns and so would everyone else who owns horses as a hobby.. 77,000 dollars in deductions in 2010 for her

    August 2, 2012 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  13. Critical Thinking

    I would do a commercial where I would use the horse and ask the horse how many triilion in debt has Presiden Obama put this country into during the last 3.5 years. Then a shot of the horses leg stomping out the number 5. Then the voice over that says; its just common horse sense, this country can't afford another 4 more years of Preseident Obama.

    August 2, 2012 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  14. CathyB3

    Some time ago I had a relative who tried the "horse is good for MS' bit. She was told that MS is handled by carefully controlled physical therapy targeting specific muscles. Also that even royalty can take a tumble.Tumbles are disasterous to MS patients

    August 2, 2012 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  15. Jack

    It's absurd that alexithymic Mitt and dopey ANN-toinette are waiting until that idiotic horse gets through its ballet dancing before announcing the VP pick.

    August 2, 2012 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  16. JerseyGirl

    @Rudy NYC
    "Why are Mitt Romney's tax returns so important? Because when he released his 2010 tax return he had to REVISE his financial disclosure statement to the FEC. He had no choice."

    Robo-romney must spend alot of $ on accountants making tax revisions, as he also had to re-do his papers 10 YEARS AGO when he pretended he lived in Mass so he could run as governor there, even though his original tax papers said he lived in UTAH. He kept saying over and over he lived and filed in Mass, but got found out by the media. So I think now this habitual liar should produce 15 years at least of tax papers. What an awful, awful person.

    August 2, 2012 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  17. i want a mega rich Mormon who hides his money overseas, and a master tax evader as presiden

    Robme horse won a metal!!!! A silver hay bucket

    August 2, 2012 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  18. Peggy - TX

    So why is Ann not riding her horse.... I guess if you are so rich that you can hide your billions over seas ... you also can buy your Olymipic dreams as well for your wife ... so sad that she has MS ... she deserves this no doubt . I can relate .... I have a little one that would like to go to the Olympics ... she happens to a very exceptionally talented firgure skater , she works extemely hard at her sport.... I am having trouble just buying a few hours of ice time for her every week ...... with the poor enconmy, the local ice rink shut down .... we have to drive three towns aways to use thier rink .... the fact is I gave up having expensive medical insurance for myself, just so I can afford to give her an opertunity to persue her dreams.....

    August 2, 2012 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  19. Al-NY,NY

    ED FL

    did the horse answer any questions or did it only speak to it's staff .Like it.sowners probably was checking on it's hidden bank accounts that are dodging lawful taxes in it's own country.

    TONITE ON FOX NEWS.............Sean Hannity interviews Romney horse after dressage event in Olympics. Hannity claims left wing bias and socialism kept it from doing better.

    August 2, 2012 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  20. Seth

    Romney horse dancing is 100 times worse than Kerry windsurfing. Good luck.

    August 2, 2012 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  21. Jrdz

    No matter how you slice it Mittens is out of touch period. Dose he make the horse ride on the roof of his car as well?

    August 2, 2012 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  22. Brenda

    Mitt Romney did not write the tax code. Everything he claimed in his taxes is perfectly legal and smart tax planning. You can discuss that with your Congressman., ie. OBAMA... at least on the days he bothered to show up.

    August 2, 2012 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  23. Beverly - NYC

    oh Please Mitt, we know you're whipped. You are sitting right next to Miss Ann watching Rafalca and applauding like a trained seal. We know who has the testorone in the family and it's not you.

    August 2, 2012 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |

    Mitt the twit is not the solution,he's the problem.That's why he's hiding the weenie in those tax returns.

    August 2, 2012 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  25. I've always voted

    I don't know what the problem is. I personally would spend the money to have a therapy HOUSE at that price. Renting is nice too.

    August 2, 2012 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
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