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. Debra from Georgia

    The Horse really belongs to the taxpayer since he took a tax deduction on it.

    August 2, 2012 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  2. Jim

    This week Ann Romney's horse is on showcase in London. Last week, London was treated to an all-star performance by Ann Romney's horses...

    August 2, 2012 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  3. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    If that horse is allowed to vote, I hope she has voter ID.

    August 2, 2012 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |

    Queen Ann's dancing horse was good for a joke and to illustrate how far out of touch Mitt Romney is from the regular common folk of America...but honestly, no body gives a care about how this dancing horse in doing in competition.

    August 2, 2012 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  5. Wilson


    “We need a president who understands business."

    What we need is a population of employable people. This means people who are healthy and educated as well as being willing and able to continue learning. The issue is not lack of jobs, but lack of qualified candidates for industries that require more brains than brawn. If the US wants to compete with the work force coming up from China and India while continuing to be a nation of innovators, we best turn off the race cars and reality shows and start hitting the books.
    The first thing you have ever posted that I agree with. Let me check to see if pigs are flying or if he11 has frozen over.

    August 2, 2012 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  6. Doug

    I don't care if the Republicans do cheer for this horse. What bothers me is that they are cheering for the economy to tank so Obama will get the blame. "Make Obama a one-term president" is their stated #1 goal and if the economy goes down in the process, so be it.

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

    Sorry, my horse drowned in the water polo match....bad joke. But, I never put my horse on the roof of my car...

    August 2, 2012 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  8. Kenny K

    If they get $77,000 deduction for the horse on tax return, we need to know why the deduction is that much.

    August 2, 2012 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  9. Larry L



    Okay Cnn – stop with the fluff for your boy Robmey – what about the Harry Reid story over on Huffington Post – he has PROOF Robmey didn't pay taxes for 10 years from a Bain board member and he is NOT backing down on this story – you are becoming Faux News Light – CNN!

    That's just a gimmick from Harry Reid to see if he can force Romney to produce his tax returns in an attempt to prove Harry Reid is lying.
    If Romney could prove Harry Reid is lying why wouldn't he do just that? Just being kind to his buddy? He's hiding something even people like you couldn't defend – or he'd have come clean with Americans and shown us he isn't a slimy weasel.

    August 2, 2012 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  10. once upon a horse

    a horse is a horse of course of course!

    August 2, 2012 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  11. Q

    This alone is reason enough to vote for Romney. How many other presidents compete in Dressage at the Olympic level. So what if he does not pay taxes.

    August 2, 2012 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  12. Rudy NYC

    British American

    So here's my question: how did Romney's horse get to the UK? Did they strap it to the roof of their car like their dog Shamus? Maybe onto the roof of their airplane?
    You're gonna love this. They have specially designed planes for transporting horses by air. Horses can get easily agitated by motion of an airplane. The planes isolate the horses in areas designed to minimize the G effects of the aircrafts motion.

    August 2, 2012 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  13. Myviewis

    Marie MD

    @lilli – Mrs. Obama's father had MS and he died young. Probably because he didn't have the money that this wifey has to get the best care available.

    Mrs. Obama's father worked for the City of Chicago and according to Mrs. Obama he never missed a day of work and he died in 1991 and was the Democrat Precinct Captain.

    August 2, 2012 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  14. Steffanie Strathdee

    Ann Romney's horse is apparently worth $250 million USD! A recent report came out that says that Ann Romney's tax deductions for her horse hobby are more than the average American earns in a year! No wonder Mitt's tax plan is all about protecting the rich instead of the middle class.

    August 2, 2012 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  15. Larry L


    Beautiful horse! Dressage takes extreame training for both rider and horse. And horses are not an elitest sport, I show, breed and train horses.
    Really? Dressage is not an elitest sport? How (why?) would a person making $30k buy a $100k horse & horse trailer, feed, train, and pay the huge vet bills? How could you move the horse around the country to competitions on that income-level. You're either pretending you have a profession while you're supported by a husband or a family, or you're a lackey for some rich folks – taking care of their horses and doing the real work. We all live in the real world and know how far an income of under $30k would go toward Dressage competition. Delude yourself but spare the rest of us.

    August 2, 2012 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  16. Chris~Albany, NY

    So why exactly did the U.S taxpayers give Mr. Romney a $77,000 tax write-off for his stupid little dancing horse?

    August 2, 2012 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  17. Larry L


    HOW come they don't mention the fact that "romney's horse" is owned by two other women as well, and that these THREE ladies rescued this horse from a debilitating sickness????
    Many PEOPLE in America need to be rescued from a "debilitating sickness". Watching Romney trying (for pure politics) to repeal the healthcare law HE INVENTED makes me think they're not too concerned about sick people.

    August 2, 2012 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  18. GonzoinHouston

    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.

    August 2, 2012 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  19. Disgusted

    The Romneys show us how the 1% live - wasting millions of dollars on useless hobbies, while the 99% in America struggle to put food on the table. It's a disgrace!

    August 2, 2012 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  20. Sirned

    I thought the very idea of this country was to set up a democracy not Royalty...
    The Royal family member actually rode her horse in a much more difficult Olypmpic event. Both princes actually served in the army and because of good family values her royal family cheered her on from the audience..And I bet her horse didn't get 77 thousand in tax deductions for one year....I like their royalty better than ours...

    August 2, 2012 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  21. John

    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 |
  22. LBAM

    i ownder if The ROBMEY's would lend their horse to people who has MS? After all, it seems to help Ann in a significant way. I say let people with MS ride the horse and take a tax deduction for the use of this animal. In turn, the RObmey's would be diong society some good.. By the way, all you Floridians with MS who are supporting Robmey, the loaning you this horse would be a substitute for your Social security, medicade and medicare income/cost.

    August 2, 2012 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  23. Larry L


    The jealousy of the left is so hilarious!!!! I guess "attack" is the only strategy they have left, with no good record to run on.
    Speaking of records... where are Romney's tax returns? He could prove everybody who questions his honesty and ethics to be wrong by just doing what all others have done. What's he hiding? Could it be he broke the law? Could he be a business cheat? Will he be caught in giant lies? Why not prove everybody wrong?

    August 2, 2012 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  24. where your nightmares end WILLARD begins

    meanwhile back in the states the right wingers howl that President Obama likes to shoot basketball once and a while. Could you imagine the fake outrage they would put out if he had a horse in the Olympics? Go figure.......

    August 2, 2012 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  25. FLIndependent

    @David in FL – "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"
    Curious to know if you say the same about those that continually disparage our FLOTUS!!

    August 2, 2012 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
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