A horse partly owned by First Lady candidate Ann Romney will be representing the red, white and blue in London this summer after almost certainly qualifying for the U.S. Olympic team in dressage, “the highest expression of horse training.”
Rafalca, a 15-year-old Oldenburg mare, and California-based trainer Jan Ebeling came in third in the U.S. Equestrian Federation National Dressage Championships in Gladstone, New Jersey, on Saturday. That almost guarantees the pair a spot on the team, which has five dressage spots.
Mrs. Romney, the wife of Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, was reportedly at the qualifying event as her husband campaigned on the backroads of Pennsylvania. The couple embraced on the tarmac upon arrival in Scranton, PA, on Friday, before Ann Romney sped away in an SUV and Romney boarded his campaign bus.
Mrs. Romney credits riding with helping her to manage her symptoms from multiple sclerosis, which she was diagnosed with in 1998, and has said she sometimes slips away from the rigors of the trail to ride and relax. She has competed in amateur and professional dressage competitions.
“Riding exhilarated me; it gave me a joy and a purpose. When I was so fatigued that I couldn’t move, the excitement of going to the barn and getting my foot in the stirrup would make me crawl out of bed,” Romney told the Los Angeles Times this year.