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Rafalca, the 15-year-old Oldenburg mare owned in part by Ann Romney stepped onto the Olympic stage in London today for the first round of her much anticipated dressage competition.
With veteran equestrian Jan Ebeling taking the reins, Rafalca stood in the center of the quiet arena for her performance, which is often described as “horse ballet.” The horse and rider placed 13th in the opening round, with a score of 70.243. Ebeling and Rafalca will now need to watch and wait while more competitors take to the ring on Friday before they find out whether they’ll make it to Tuesday’s Grand Prix Special, reported The New York Times.
Romney, the wife of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, watched from the stands, waving and cheering after the performance. Greeting Ebeling with an embrace when he was finished, Romney described what she saw as "elegant, consistent, fantastic," reported USA Today. "Can you believe this?" she added.
“I think that was a good score,” Ebeling said, according to The Times. “I think I had a very good ride, I’m happy with it … I think [Rafalca is] peaking just at the right moment.”
From Vetstreet: 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Dressage | Equestrian Stars to Watch
Ebeling said that his mount “was amped up” before competing.
“It’s better because she has more expression,” he said, “but it’s harder because it’s harder to control the horse.”
Rafalca faces tough competition at the Games, where her sport has garnered far more attention than usual because of Mrs. Romney’s high profile. In fact, dressage has nearly become a regular part of Stephen Colbert’s act lately on his Comedy Central show, The Colbert Report. This week, he even tried it himself.
But Rafalca’s rider sees the bright side of being in the media spotlight. "It's given our sport an opportunity to be seen," Ebeling said.
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