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

'Battle Creek' Tries To Shake Up CBS' Cop Show Formula

CBS' new cop show Battle Creek is based on a 12-year-old script by Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan. It's among three new network shows that aim to reinvent old TV concepts.
NPR

Italian Cheese Lovers Find Their Bovine Match Through 'Adopt A Cow'

The cheeses of the Italian Alps are prized for their flavor. But the tradition of cheese-making here is dying off. Now remaining farmers are banding together around an unusual adoption program.
NPR

Netanyahu To Preview Speech To Congress Before AIPAC Conference

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is in Washington, D.C, where he is expected to give a contentious speech before Congress on Tuesday. He appears before a powerful pro-Israeli lobby on Monday.
NPR

A Neuroscientist Weighs In: Why Do We Disagree On The Color Of The Dress?

Robert Siegel speaks with Dr. Bevil Conway, a neuroscientist at Wellesley College, about the dress that has the whole Internet asking: What color is it?

Leave a Comment

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