A Horse Is A Horse, Unless Of Course It's Ann Romney's Dressage Champ | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

A Horse Is A Horse, Unless Of Course It's Ann Romney's Dressage Champ

Play associated audio

Whether it's good or bad for Mitt Romney's presidential campaign, Ann Romney's horse Rafalca qualified for the U.S. Olympic dressage team over the weekend.

Dressage, for the vast majority of the population who don't follow it, is one of three horse-related sports in the Olympics, and the only one that doesn't involve jumping. It DOES involve very large horses doing precise sets of movements, some of them to music. Dressage enthusiasts HATE when it is compared to ballet. (Full disclosure: I am a long-suffering practitioner of the art, which is harder than it looks.)

Rafalca, a 15-year-old Oldenburg mare, and her rider (and Ann Romney's longtime coach), Jan Ebeling, finished third in the trials held at Gladstone, N.J., nabbing the third and final team spot on the squad. Romney co-owns the horse with Ebeling's wife, Amy, and Beth Meyers, described by The New York Times as "a family friend."

The Romneys' involvement in dressage (French for "training"), often considered the snobbiest of the horse sports, has brought considerable attention to it of late, not all of it good.

For example, Stephen Colbert was his usual scathing self last week, when it appeared likely the Romneys might have a date in London this summer. Colbert suggested, tongue firmly in cheek, that being involved in dressage might give Romney some help "relating to Joe Sixpack" and teased the sport's fans for being "highfalutin'."

The U.S. Equestrian Federation struck back, if not to defend Romney, at least to defend dressage. At Saturday's last day of competition, the group handed out bottles of Budweiser (presumably to those of age) and foam fingers declaring "Dressage is No. 1," creating what must have been one of the stranger equestrian Olympic trials ever. Ebeling and Romney (and Rafalca) even posed with the props.

But now comes the real question. The Olympic dressage competition is scheduled for the first week in August. For some voters, it will be the first introduction to the Romney family. And that first image may well be that they co-own a horse worth hundreds of thousands of dollars in a sport practiced by a fairly small and mostly well-to-do segment of the population.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

Snubs And Successes: 6 Lessons Learned From This Year's Emmy Nominations

HBO's Game of Thrones emerged as the most-nominated series with 19 nods for the Primetime Emmy Awards, but new series such as FX's Fargo and HBO's True Detective scored, too.
NPR

'Captain Pizza' Saves The Day, But Doesn't Save Himself A Slice

A pilot found himself hungry during a midflight delay. But instead of just buying a pizza for himself, he bought 50 pizzas for the entire Frontier Airlines plane.
NPR

In Texas, Obama Sets Stage To Answer 'Do-Nothing' Congress

President Obama knows he's unlikely to get support from Texas' predominantly Republican congressional delegation, but being rebuffed will make it easier for him to shift blame to the GOP.
NPR

A New Device Lets You Track Your Preschooler ... And Listen In

LG's KizON wristband lets you keep tabs on your child. But some experts say such devices send the wrong message about the world we live in. And the gadgets raise questions about kids' privacy rights.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.