This is Ann Romney’s 15-year old, German horse Rafalca, which is competing in the Olympics.
Given that the Olympics is one major TV event, where the sports are rarely discussed and the announcers trade in “human interest” pieces, Rafalca is sure to leave some mark on Mitt’s efforts.
For a candidate struggling with his rich guy image, everything about this is amazingly tone deaf. Here are my favorite bits from the NY Times piece:
On traveling to England:
“‘I just feed her a bunch of watermelons,’ Jan Ebeling, the equestrian who rides Rafalca, said about the flight in a recent telephone interview. ‘It’s not enough for a horse forever, but it’s good for the road.’”
By “road”, he meant private plane.
Rafalca’s sport is Dressage, which is sometimes to referred to as “horse ballet”:
With a milk chocolate coat, raven tail and white socks above three of her hooves, Rafalca will next be seen in the dressage ring on Aug. 2, performing in a sport sometimes referred to as horse ballet in which a horse and rider, typically clad in a top hat, tails and riding boots, perform a series of complex movements, often to music.
That’ll play well on Main Street. So will the fact that the Romney’s outsource their horse training:
Rafalca was born in Menslage in northern Germany in 1997, bred by Erwin Risch, an acclaimed German dressage breeder who runs Zuchthof Risch. The pastoral facility in northern Germany has specialized in breeding since 1975 and has produced competitive horses including Air Jordan Z, a successful jumping horse.
And Rafalca had a shrink to help cope with stage fright:
After the Las Vegas debacle, Ebeling added sports psychology to his training repertory. He also worked with Rafalca in an arena with mirrors and more noise, hoping to expose her to elements beyond the normal tranquillity of the ranch.
But this takes the cake: the Romney’s claimed their horse-related costs as tax losses:
Rafalca was purchased and brought to the United States in 2006, at a time when dressage horses were fetching six- and seven-figure price tags. (Rafalca was not sold at auction and her price has not been disclosed publicly.) Care and keeping for such horses is not cheap. In 2010, the Romneys reported a $77,000 loss on their tax returns for their share of Rafalca, which is owned by a partnership that includes Ebeling’s wife, Amy, Ann Romney and Beth Meyer.
The Romney’s claimed as a loss nearly three times the average American income in horse sporting fees.
Does the Romney campaign even employ a media consultant?