No Olympic medal for Ann Romney’s horse

In Tuesday’s Olympic dressage event at Greenwich Park, Rafalca, the 15-year-old mare part-owned by Mitt and Ann Romney, received an individual score of 69.302, which is too low to qualify for the highlight of dressage competitions — Thursday’s Grand Prix Freestyle — meaning the Romneys’ horse is out of medal contention.

Rafalca (Markus Schreiber/AP)

In the upcoming freestyle, horses perform an individually choreographed routine to music rather than follow the prescribed movements of a dressage “test.” It is considered a crowd pleaser, often compared to the free dance in competitive ice dancing.

The U.S. team finished in sixth place in the team dressage competition, which was won by the British team, the best of whom, Charlotte Dujardin riding Valegro, received a score of 83.286. Germany took the silver, and the bronze medal went to the Netherlands.

Several onlookers described Rafalca as having performed an accurate but uninspiring test on Tuesday, lacking the flair and power required of the top performers, particularly in the “passage,” which is a kind of springy, elevated trot.

Tuesday put an end to any possibility of an Olympic medal for the presidential hopeful’s horse. Rafalca, ridden by Jan Ebeling, finished 28th of the 32 horses that competed. Only 18 riders (including one U.S. representative, Steffen Peters) go through to the freestyle, which will determine the individual medals.

Frances Stead Sellers is senior writer at The Washington Post magazine. She joined the magazine in 2014 after spending two years as the editor of the daily Style section, with a focus on profiles, personalities, arts and ideas.


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