John MacDougall /AFP/Getty Images
Jan Ebeling of the U.S. on Rafalca competes in the Dressage preliminaries of the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Jan Ebeling of the U.S. on Rafalca competes in the Dressage preliminaries of the London 2012 Olympic Games. John MacDougall /AFP/Getty Images
Ann Romney was in London today to watch the Olympic debut of a horse she co-owns.
During the first day of the individual dressage competition, Rafalca scored 70.243, which landed her in 13th place so far. The event, if you're not familiar, is usually described as a kind of ballet for horses.
Romney seemed satisfied with the performance, which continues tomorrow.
Courtesy of Steve O'Byrne
Ann Romney wears a "Dressage is no. 1" foam finger at a qualifying round in June.
Ann Romney wears a "Dressage is no. 1" foam finger at a qualifying round in June. Courtesy of Steve O'Byrne
The AP reports that the wife of the Republican candidate for president Mitt Romney, sat in the VIP section and when the 7-minute test ended she gave the horse and rider Jan Ebeling a standing ovation.
The AP adds:
"'She was consistent and elegant,' Romney told The Associated Press. 'She did not disappoint. She thrilled me to death.'"
"Ebeling, too, was upbeat about the performance.
"'She felt really strong and is peaking at the right time,' he said. 'She was amped up, a little stronger than usual. She had more oomph. The trick is to manage that.' He said he hadn't spoken to either Romney before the competition — he never does — but said her final words of advice were to 'Do what you know (how) to do, and do what you do best.'"
As everything does before a presidential election, Rafalca has been the subject of criticism. Just today, CBS News reports that the liberal group MoveOn.org launched an ad "suggesting that Romney would treat the American people worse than he treats his horse, and plays up the notion that dressage, a little-known sport in America, is elitist and ridiculous."
Mitt Romney was not at performance. In fact, last month, he tried to distance himself from the event.
"It's a big, exciting experience for my wife. I have to tell you, this is Ann's sport," he said in an interview with NBC. "I'm not even sure which day the sport goes on. She will get the chance to see it, I will not be watching the event. I hope her horse does well. But just the honor of being here and representing our country and seeing the other Olympians is ... something which I'm sure the people that are associated with this are looking forward to."
As ABC points out, this may be political calculation. They report: "It was just recently that Mitt Romney was one of 'the people that are associated' with team Rafalca. During the Dressage World Cup in April, Rafalca performed to music personally chosen by the Republican presidential candidate."