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Fri Jul 27, 2012, 03:17 PM

 

Romney horse flown to Olympics on Fedex jet, dined on watermelon

The politics of horse ballet


http://www.dressage-news.com/?p=16750

The animal kingdom has been inhospitable to Mitt Romney in this election cycle.

First there was the damaging story of Seamus, the Irish setter he strapped to the roof of the Romneys’ car on a family trip.

Now it seems that, when it comes to Romney’s political aspirations, Seamus may not be the most dangerous animal in the family menagerie. This past week belonged to Rafalca, the dancing horse.

Rafalca, a 15-year-old Oldenburg mare owned in part by the Romneys, qualified as a member of the U.S. Olympic team and will compete in London in the dressage competition — a form of ballet for horses and their riders in which the animals do pirouettes and serpentines. They also do piaffes, which, according to the International Equestrian Federation, is a “highly collected, cadenced, elevated diagonal movement” in which “the haunches with active hocks are well engaged.” Rafalca, after qualifying, flew across the Atlantic on a FedEx jet (no, they didn’t strap her to the roof) and reportedly dined on an in-flight meal of watermelon.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-politics-of-pirouetting/2012/07/27/gJQABGxyDX_story.html

44 replies, 7985 views

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Reply Romney horse flown to Olympics on Fedex jet, dined on watermelon (Original post)
Liberal_in_LA Jul 2012 OP
snappyturtle Jul 2012 #1
immoderate Jul 2012 #2
malthaussen Jul 2012 #3
rocktivity Jul 2012 #4
Liberal_in_LA Jul 2012 #6
riderinthestorm Jul 2012 #34
Corgigal Jul 2012 #41
A HERETIC I AM Jul 2012 #5
DCBob Jul 2012 #9
A HERETIC I AM Jul 2012 #13
DCBob Jul 2012 #14
A HERETIC I AM Jul 2012 #15
DCBob Jul 2012 #16
A HERETIC I AM Jul 2012 #18
DCBob Jul 2012 #20
riderinthestorm Jul 2012 #36
DCBob Jul 2012 #39
dreampunk Jul 2012 #43
RedRocco Jul 2012 #24
bklyncowgirl Jul 2012 #27
DCBob Jul 2012 #29
Liberal_in_LA Jul 2012 #31
CokeMachine Jul 2012 #11
cali Jul 2012 #22
riderinthestorm Jul 2012 #37
flamingdem Jul 2012 #7
LineLineNew Reply !
Poiuyt Jul 2012 #38
RebelOne Jul 2012 #8
CokeMachine Jul 2012 #12
hack89 Jul 2012 #10
GoCubsGo Jul 2012 #44
jmowreader Jul 2012 #17
Tom Ripley Jul 2012 #19
kentuck Jul 2012 #21
Vinca Jul 2012 #23
antigone382 Jul 2012 #42
JHB Jul 2012 #25
2on2u Jul 2012 #26
Buns_of_Fire Jul 2012 #28
dynasaw Jul 2012 #30
Ruby the Liberal Jul 2012 #32
lonestarnot Jul 2012 #35
B2G Jul 2012 #33
Fumesucker Jul 2012 #40

Response to Liberal_in_LA (Original post)

Fri Jul 27, 2012, 03:20 PM

1. Well isn't that special? Such elitists. nt

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Response to Liberal_in_LA (Original post)

Fri Jul 27, 2012, 03:27 PM

2. My dressage horse loves watermelon. Doesn't yours?

 

It's a bit of a task to pick out the seeds though.

--imm

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Response to immoderate (Reply #2)

Fri Jul 27, 2012, 03:29 PM

3. They have an illegal immigrant for that.

He's paid 2 cents per seed. Bain Capital is thinking, however, of funding a factory in China where the workers will be paid 1/2 cent per seed.

-- Mal

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Response to Liberal_in_LA (Original post)

Fri Jul 27, 2012, 03:32 PM

4. I could consider this a sport if there was no one RIDING the horse




rocktivity

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Response to rocktivity (Reply #4)

Fri Jul 27, 2012, 03:39 PM

6. it's a sport for the horse.

 

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Response to rocktivity (Reply #4)

Sun Jul 29, 2012, 01:36 PM

34. You probably have seen it done like that. Ever been to the circus?

 

Or the Spanish Riding School? Most of the movements are done unmounted there.

These are all movements a horse does naturally at liberty. The training comes in getting the horse to do it on command and in sync with the rider

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Response to riderinthestorm (Reply #34)

Sun Jul 29, 2012, 01:56 PM

41. I love the sport

My daughters and I would actually go to the shows and watch. I think it's beautiful when an animal and human work together like that.

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Response to Liberal_in_LA (Original post)

Fri Jul 27, 2012, 03:35 PM

5. Not at all unusual and not a big deal

I just don't get DU'rs obsession with this horse. So the fuck what? There are other American dressage horses that were flown over there also, and FedEx has access to the proper palletized stalls and the experience.


I see no one bitching about any of the other competitors. There are plenty of things about the Romneys to hate. The fact that they own show horses ain't one of them

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Response to A HERETIC I AM (Reply #5)

Fri Jul 27, 2012, 03:45 PM

9. Its just another example of how he lives in a different world.

There are very very few Americans who can afford to participate in this "sport" and of those there are very few that choose too. Its an odd very small group of wealthy mostly elitist snobs... like the Romneys.

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Response to DCBob (Reply #9)

Fri Jul 27, 2012, 08:34 PM

13. I think you have made a generalization that is not accurate.

Its an odd very small group of wealthy mostly elitist snobs... like the Romneys.

I know there are likely several dozen, if not a few hundred DU'ers that are horse owners and/or enthusiasts either past or present. I am one of the former, having ridden a great deal when I was younger and quite frankly, would have LOVED to have been able to participate in Dressage. I find it elegant, beautiful and a riding discipline that epitomizes the keen interaction between rider and horse. I disagree that those who participate in Dressage events are "odd very small group of wealthy mostly elitist snobs" as I am quite sure there are thousands of Americans who enjoy the sport and participate in it that are hardly elitist snobs.

As far as it being "just another example of how he lives in a different world.", I'll grant you that the Romney's are the type of people who live quite considerably different lives than the average DU'er, or the average American, for that matter, but that is beside the point I am trying to make. Sure, they're rich, out of touch nimrods, but I just don't, and can't see the logic in, holding the fact that they are inclined to spend a portion of their money on horses against them.

It is just not something I find in the least bit offensive.

As I said, there are PLENTY of things that offend me about ol' Mitt and his wife. But their Horses aren't among them.

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Response to A HERETIC I AM (Reply #13)

Fri Jul 27, 2012, 08:41 PM

14. I thought it was very expensive to own and train a horse for this sport?

and only the very rich could afford it. Pardon me if Im wrong.

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Response to DCBob (Reply #14)

Fri Jul 27, 2012, 09:11 PM

15. Owning a horse in general takes disposable income....

And yes, participating in events can be expensive, but think of it this way;

There are many thousands of Americans who participate in motor racing. There are scores of various classes of racing, from showroom stock road racing to highly modified drag racing to dirt track etc. the VAST majority are just regular folks who choose to spend their extra money on their race cars. Ditto people who have large RV Trailers and do a lot of camping. Ditto the majority of small plane owners - talkin small Cessna, Piper, Mooney type planes, not jets. Ditto boat owners etc etc etc.

It's expensive to someone who can't see spending the money on it. But if you're dedicated and love the event , you find a way.

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Response to A HERETIC I AM (Reply #15)

Fri Jul 27, 2012, 09:17 PM

16. The NY Times called it a "rarified sport" of "six-figure horses and $1,000 saddles."

That sounds like uberweatlhy elitist snobs to me.

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Response to DCBob (Reply #16)

Fri Jul 27, 2012, 11:16 PM

18. IS there not one thing in your life that isn't a total necessity that you have spent a $1000 on?

Seriously? Perhaps your stereo or your TV or maybe the computer you typed the last response on?


Fuck the god damned NY Times.

As I said above, there are plenty of regular folks that own horses. Many thousands of them take part in Show Jumping, 3 day eventing, Dressage, Gymkhana and many other types of events with their animals. It isn't just for the rich.

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Response to A HERETIC I AM (Reply #18)

Sat Jul 28, 2012, 05:54 AM

20. I suppose I could afford the $1000 saddle but not sure what I would do with it..

since there is no way I could afford the "six figure" horse.

Of course there are those who participate in horse competition who are regular folks, however, I suspect Olympic-class dressage competitiors with six-figure animals are not those kind of people.

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Response to DCBob (Reply #20)

Sun Jul 29, 2012, 01:39 PM

36. Probably virtually ALL of the Olympic class dressage competitors started out poor

 

The riders and trainers of these horses are just talented regular folk. Probably close to 100% of them started out at the bottom mucking stalls. Its very, very rare to find an Olympic rider whose got both the bucks and talent. Most of the riders are regular folks who are sponsored.

It doesn't take a 6 figure horse to do dressage, or even a $1000 saddle - I've got clients with BLM mustangs they adopted for $125 who ride bareback.

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Response to riderinthestorm (Reply #36)

Sun Jul 29, 2012, 01:47 PM

39. The controversy is not about the sport of dressage.

Its the obscene amount of money the Romney's are spending to participate in it.

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Response to A HERETIC I AM (Reply #18)

Mon Jul 30, 2012, 12:53 PM

43. Just out of curiosity, I wonder what percent of them would

vote with the working persons party? The Democrats?

Dressage is not the problem (thought I gotta say the fly hat is too effing cute). The ANN ROMNEY class who own PART of a horse and ship them across the world to play dressage and other crap deserve our derision for they are 1%ers - the ones who USE AMERICA from which they can rip profit and cash at any cost.

I once married a woman who had an Arab mare she tried to train to enter dressage. While she loved that horse (may still have it, who knows), it was a horrible creature that cribbed it's stall, constantly tested the fences and other bad habits which it taught the other horses whenever it could. The woman worked hard and early in our marriage thought dressage was cool. SHE was not wealthy. I imagine she rides only Western now. Hopefully votes Democratic, But that was long ago and far away.

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Response to A HERETIC I AM (Reply #15)

Sat Jul 28, 2012, 07:08 AM

24. you do have to have considerable disposable income for any of those things

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Response to DCBob (Reply #14)

Sat Jul 28, 2012, 07:51 AM

27. How much it costs depends on the level you're competing at and what you're competing on.

There are many people who are not what anyone would call wealthy who love dressage and make big sacrifices in their lives to afford it. They ride whatever type of horse they can afford (race track rejects, ex cow ponies, premarin farm babies, BLM mustangs or if they can afford one, old schoolmasters, I.e. older horses, trained in the discipline who in their senior years who have outlived the ability to compete at the top levels).

To feed their passion, they, muck stalls to help pay for board and lessons, buy their tack and clothes second hand, drive cars that are falling apart and save up their vacation days for shows and clinics. They dream of some day buying that "big" horse that will take them up the competition ladder. Above all they have fun and develop what they feel is an incredible level of communication with their horses. As for the horses, dressage done right is like weight training for equines. It can help them succede in any discipline. Western riders who would never be caught dead riding in a top hat and tails frequently use dressage techniques to make their horses more responsive and flexible. There's even a cool story that the great race horse Seattle Slew had some dressage training early in his life to strengthen a crooked hind leg.

To compete at the top levels requires money--big money. The days when someone could buy a horse off the track for a couple hundred dollars and train it to an Olympic Gold Medal in dressage are long gone. The sport these days demands the sort of gaits and collection and extension that only certain breeds are capable of performing. The horses are very expensive, mostly bred in Europe specifically as sport horses. A green prospect with the right gait, attitude and looks is going to cost you more than most people make in a year. A horse trained to Grand Prix level like Rafalca will cost in the high six figures or more--especially if it has working reproductive equipment. Rafalca by the way will most likely never have to raise her own babies--her eggs will be harvested inseminated in-vitro and put into some less valuable mare who'll do the hard work. She will have far more offspring than she could doing it the way nature intended and that makes her more valuable than say, the great Thoroughbred race mare Zenyatta, whose breed registration requires that the male horse and female horse actually do the deed in person and by all accounts she's a good mom who is currently raising her first son.

An ambitious dressage rider who is not a wealthy person will need to find a sponsor. This seems to be the story with Jan Ebeling, Rafalca's trainer. He apparently came from modest origins in Germany, cleaned stables to be able to ride and train, moved to the US, worked his way up, married up, and then, as luck would have it, started giving Ann Romney riding lessons. Thanks to the Romney money he and his wife ( a wealthy lady in her own right apparently) own a beautiful farm (the Acres) in California. The Romneys are partners in this venture.

Here's a link to an article in Dressage News. http://www.dressage-news.com/?p=16317

I hope I've spread a little more light on the subject. By the way, I'm not a dressage rider, I used to ride jumpers. These days I pretty much prefer trail riding. There are some dressage riders on this board who can probably give you more in depth information than I can.

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Response to bklyncowgirl (Reply #27)

Sat Jul 28, 2012, 07:59 AM

29. Thank you for this very informative post.

You verified what I was thinking that the level the Romney's are competing at requires very big money.

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Response to bklyncowgirl (Reply #27)

Sun Jul 29, 2012, 01:01 PM

31. Very interesting. thanks

 

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Response to A HERETIC I AM (Reply #5)

Fri Jul 27, 2012, 03:47 PM

11. I Agree

 

How else are Olympic athletes supposed to get to the UK -- SWIM?

And yes I believe horses are highly trained athletes along with their riders.

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Response to A HERETIC I AM (Reply #5)

Sat Jul 28, 2012, 06:10 AM

22. uh, are any of the other owners running for President of the United States? No.

 

And now you have your simple answer as to why it's a big deal. It's a very rich person's sport and it's emblematic of the fucking fact that the Romneys live a life that in no way mirrors that of the vast majority of Americans. It's particularly notable in this time when so many are suffering. Furthermore, the Romneys have no connection to those who have had to strive and struggle in any other way.

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Response to A HERETIC I AM (Reply #5)

Sun Jul 29, 2012, 01:41 PM

37. +1. Couldn't have said it better... nt

 

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Response to Liberal_in_LA (Original post)

Fri Jul 27, 2012, 03:41 PM

7. "ON" or "IN" the Fedex plane?

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Response to flamingdem (Reply #7)

Sun Jul 29, 2012, 01:41 PM

38. !

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Response to Liberal_in_LA (Original post)

Fri Jul 27, 2012, 03:42 PM

8. That poor horse deserves to dine on watermelon,

especially considering the torture that horse is going to endure in the dressage competiion.

I didn't even know that horses liked watermelon. I have had 3 horses and I know that they liked apples. One even loved apple turnovers. I never tried feeding them watermelon. Well, it's too late now because I do not own horses any more.

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Response to RebelOne (Reply #8)

Fri Jul 27, 2012, 03:52 PM

12. I had one that liked Coca Cola.

 

He would take the bottle in his mouth, throw his head back and guzzle it down. That's part of the reason for my name here. He was also crazy for water mellon -- seeds and all.

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Response to Liberal_in_LA (Original post)

Fri Jul 27, 2012, 03:46 PM

10. Every Olympic horse was treated the same way. nt

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Response to hack89 (Reply #10)

Mon Jul 30, 2012, 01:05 PM

44. Yes, and I don't understand the big deal about the watermelon.

It's watermelon, not caviar. It's not like it's some exotic, expensive fruit. I never heard of horses eating watermelon, but in retrospect, it makes sense. It's sweet, like apples, which horses love. And, it's full of water, and probably an easier way of giving them a drink on a potentially bumpy ride.

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Response to Liberal_in_LA (Original post)

Fri Jul 27, 2012, 10:33 PM

17. How the hell else do you get a horse to England, except in a cargo plane?

I don't think you'd want to put it on a container ship.

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Response to Liberal_in_LA (Original post)

Fri Jul 27, 2012, 11:19 PM

19. Ya just know what the freepers are gonna say

 

count on it

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Response to Liberal_in_LA (Original post)

Sat Jul 28, 2012, 06:05 AM

21. Watermelon can be a very good diuretic ...

This could get interesting!

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Response to Liberal_in_LA (Original post)

Sat Jul 28, 2012, 06:20 AM

23. All I care is that the horse is humanely treated and nothing is done to "encourage" dancing.

Kind of a weird sport, but what a nice tax deduction.

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Response to Vinca (Reply #23)

Sun Jul 29, 2012, 02:12 PM

42. I don't think you can really "encourage" dressage moves the same way as...

...say, they "encourage" gaited horses like Tennessee Walkers and Saddlebreds to perform their gaits to perfection: uncomfortable shoes, putting acid or staples into the bottoms of their hooves to make them "prance," etc. I won't say abuse and drugging doesn't occur in dressage, but the things that the horses are required to do demand a strong level of communication between horse and rider more than anything else.

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Response to Liberal_in_LA (Original post)

Sat Jul 28, 2012, 07:15 AM

25. It ain't the horsey plane trip, it's the pension funds raided to pay for it...

...and the jobs those pension funds were for. For that part, it doesn't really matter if he was in charge of the company or not. That money still went into his accounts.

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Response to Liberal_in_LA (Original post)

Sat Jul 28, 2012, 07:31 AM

26. The horse was seemingly smiling when the pilots were discussing the elevators...

 

unfortunately they were at the rear of the plane and not for cars or horses.

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Response to Liberal_in_LA (Original post)

Sat Jul 28, 2012, 07:59 AM

28. A “highly collected, cadenced, elevated diagonal movement”

in which “the haunches with active hocks are well engaged...”

Whew. I think I need a cigarette after reading that description.

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Response to Liberal_in_LA (Original post)

Sat Jul 28, 2012, 08:24 AM

30. All Sports at the Competitive Level are Expensive

This one happens to be have the added expense of keeping and maintaining a horse.

For all the other sports the expenses involved in training, coaching, traveling are huge.

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Response to Liberal_in_LA (Original post)

Sun Jul 29, 2012, 01:03 PM

32. Doesn't everyone FedEx their horse to England?

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Response to Ruby the Liberal (Reply #32)

Sun Jul 29, 2012, 01:37 PM

35. Oh sure sure sure.

 

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Response to Liberal_in_LA (Original post)

Sun Jul 29, 2012, 01:30 PM

33. Did you expect it to swim?

I'm sick of this dressage BS.

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Response to B2G (Reply #33)

Sun Jul 29, 2012, 01:51 PM

40. Meh, the Romneys wrote off about half again as much as the median income on that horse..

It's a legitimate issue, albeit a minor one.

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