Update: It looks like I was premature. There are apparently more dressage rounds to go so Rafalca is still in there though unlikely to medal.]
You have to hand it to Mitt Romney. Thanks to his candidacy, people like me, who had never even heard that there was an Olympic event called dressage, now know more about it than we could have ever imagined, even to the extent of pronouncing it correctly.
Unfortunately for him, his wife Ann’s horse Rafalca today got knocked out early from the dressage competition, preventing him from getting a bounce in the polls for contributing to the US tally of Olympic medals. The snarky Guardian report on the event shows that the British are still rubbing it into Romney for his gaffes while there. Starting with the headline Ann Romney’s horse fails to win dressage but avoids offending British, it went on:
Short of mocking Shetland ponies over their lack of stature or laying into zebras for their failure to make a significant contribution to the world of equine culture, Ann Romney’s horse Rafalca was always going to struggle to match the sheer incredulity that her husband managed to provoke on his recent overseas trip.
And in the event – the event in question being the individual dressage – the 15-year-old bay Oldenburg mare acquitted herself rather well. True, she and her rider, Jan Ebeling, may have been left well behind by Britain’s Carl Hester, Germany’s Dorothee Schneider and Denmark’s Anna Kasprzak but, by Romney standards, her performance was a positive triumph.
She bowed her neatly plaited head on cue, trotted diagonally across the sand, did the jogging-on-the-spot thing, the skipping thing, the rhythmic boogying thing, the controlled trotting thing: in short, Rafalca did everything that the occasion and the peculiar rules of the dressage demanded of her.
Never for a second during her seven-minute performance did a hoof stray dangerously mouthwards, nor did she do anything at all to offend or upset the host nation.
At one point, she appeared to give a snort of exhilarated delight, although, to be fair, it’s not easy to say precisely what emotion a huge horse is aiming to convey; it could equally have been a snort of ennui or a snort of frustration at the Obama administration’s glee over Mitt’s gaffe-spree.
Stephen Colbert has been instrumental in increasing this level of awareness of this event by naming dressage as the sport of this year’s Olympics and in two segments shows his attempt to master some of its intricacies, in particular the maneuver known as the ‘piaffe’
(These clips appeared on July 30 and 31, 2012. To get suggestions on how to view clips of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report outside the US, please see this earlier post.)