Rafalca, the dressage horse part-owned by Mitt Romney’s wife Ann, made a solid Olympic debut today as rider Jan Ebeling ignored the media hype and political jibing surrounding them.
“There certainly was a lot of media attention going on but I think it turned out to be a good thing for the sport. And I don’t really get distracted by these things,” the U.S. rider said after finishing the first leg of the dressage contest.
And the world’s most famous dressage horse? “I think she’s peaking just at the right time.”
Democrats have derided dressage as elitist and brandished Rafalca – as well as Ann’s role as patron of dressage rider Ebeling – as more evidence that the U.S. Republican presidential candidate is out of touch with the common man.
Ebeling picked up a provisional score of 70.213 percent, putting him in fourth place after eight riders.
He said his second pirouette – when a horse pivots at the canter around stationary hind legs – was a bit off. But he was pleased with his piaffes – a high-level movement where the horse trots on the spot.
“I think I had a really good ride. I am very happy with it. I think my second pirouette started out a little bit large. She jumped off the line a bit,” he said. “But overall it was great.”