Archive » July 5, 2012
By Pat Murphy, Contributing Writer
If the Republican candidate for president of the United States, Mitt Romney, is elected in November, our horse industry will almost certainly get a boost. His wife, Ann, is a dedicated dressage rider and Rafalca, the horse she co-owns with Beth Meyer, and Amy Ebeling, is on the U.S.A.’s DressageTeam to compete in the summer Olympics.
The Olympics run from July 27 through Aug. 12 and the dressage events begin Aug. 2. Wouldn’t it be great to have horse enthusiasts in the White House?
Rafalca, a 15-year-old Oldenburg mare, will be ridden by Jan Ebeling, who has been practicing and competing in Dressage events for years. When we reached Ebeling at his home, he told us, “This horse is a very smart and kind mare, and when the three women went in together to buy her, we somehow hoped that I could help her reach her full potential. Now, it’s my Olympic dream come true. “
Ebeling said, “I first met Ann Romney in 2001. Her husband, Mitt, was the chief executive of the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. Later, she was riding with Margo Benson and Ann attended one of my clinics.” Having been the wife of a governor and raising five sons, Ann Romney had been handed another big challenge. She has been battling multiple sclerosis for some time.
“When, she started riding with me,” said Jan, “Ann really had no stamina and for 45 minutes we would mostly just walk our horses and talk. She really had trouble with her right leg with tremors and pain and seemed to have little strength there. She was not a great rider at the time, but I was impressed that she had great will power and she really loved horses. She is a very inspiring person. I really don’t know if I could have done what she did.”
Ann Romney has had a deep love of horses since childhood, and has found that dressage riding has been not only physically strengthening, but also helps her build a bond with the animal she loves. She also credits dressage with relieving many of the symptoms of M.S. So, perhaps, this adds yet another facet to the mysterious claims made about the healing abilities of horses.
Ebeling, said that both Ann and Mitt have great senses of humor. “He loves to joke and can laugh at himself. He has ridden, and I know that he is really fond of horses. He and Ann will fly to London to attend part of the Olympic Games and cheer for Rafalca. The mare is now at Gladstone, N.J., and we will fly over to England on the 9th of July.”
Here in the Valley, our own Charlotte Bredahl Baker, who won the bronze Olympic medal in 1992, told us,” I have been friends with Jan and Amy Ebeling for many years and even have competed against him. They have a very nice place in Moorpark, and I know that he has attended clinics in the Valley several times. Jan has been riding Rafalca for a long time and they have a very solid partnership. They have been knocking on this (Olympic) door for a while.”
It was Charlotte who really woke the Valley up to the subtle discipline of dressage, which unites the rider and horse through precise and unique exercises. She was born in Denmark, moved to America in 1979 and has been involved with training dressage horses even since. Charlotte and her horse, Lugano, were part of the silver medal winning United States Team at the North American Championship in Maryland. In 2004, her stallion, Windfall, was named USDF Horse of the Year at Intermediare I. She is now a qualified judge and is a part of many prestigious competitions here and abroad.
The Bakers, like the Romneys, are both hard workers and high achievers. They are kind-hearted people who have always shared their good fortune with others. After Reagan, will we have another horseman in the White House? Let’s hope the Romney connection will have a lasting and positive boost to America’s horses.