Rafalcagate: The media weighs in

Whether they know what they’re talking about or not, everyone has something to say about the recent unlikely intersection of politics and dressage. Here are a few stories that caught our eye.

In her column “Payoff makes Mitt’s ‘Dancing Horse’ worth it,” Pam Stone, a former student of Jan Ebling, makes a solid case for respecting dressage as a sport without sounding like a PO-ed DQ with her knickers in a twist.

Now, watching the late-night comics make fun of “Mitt Romney’s Dancing Horse,” I cringed for Jan. He doesn’t deserve to be portrayed as an elitist snob in a silly outfit.

He deserves to be respected for working his butt off in a silly outfit (it’s a tradition thing).

Readers with a bulletproof sense of humor will appreciate The Atlantic Wire‘s “Ann Romney Vs. Michelle Obama: Who Has the Most Obnoxious Hobby?” Romney’s dressage habit and Obama’s affinity for gardening are given a side-by-side comparison, with categories such as “Princess quotient,” “Dumb outfits” and “Hypocrisy.”

Aside from a tiara, horses are the most important accessory in a princess-focused fairy tale. (It is what the princess always gets rescued on.)

In “It’s time to stop hating people who have a pony,” Kathleen Parker of the Calgary Herald argues that we shouldn’t resent people for being successful.

It is but a short canter from hating pony people to despising the horse crowd. And this is because people who own fancy horses – thoroughbreds or heaven forbid (you knew this was coming) Olympic horses – are very, very rich. We just call them the One Percenters these days.

Using cities that rally around their sports teams as an example, Terry Cummins of News & Tribune wonders if a similar phenomena could happen on a national scale in “What if we fell and couldn’t get up?”

Could a horse bring us together? Ann Romney, wife of candidate Mitt Romney, co-owns Rafalca, a horse trying to make the London Olympics in the dressage category. A true American would never wish a well-dressed horse bad luck.

NPR’s Julie Rovner, a dressage enthusiast, admits that being in the dressage spotlight might not be the best thing for Romney’s campaign in “A Horse is a Horse, Unless of Course It’s Ann Romney’s Dressage Champ.

The Olympic dressage competition is scheduled for the first week in August. For some voters, it will be the first introduction to the Romney family. And that first image may well be that they co-own a horse worth hundreds of thousands of dollars in a sport practiced by a fairly small and mostly well-to-do segment of the population.

The London Eye, an Olympic blog written by USDF Connection editor Jennifer Bryant, gives an overview of the dressage community’s reaction to Colbert’s antics in “Humor and Horses, Not Politics, Rule at Gladstone.”

Quick-thinking equestrian company SmartPak has shipped a dressage outfit to Colbert, who reportedly has agreed to take a dressage lesson from New Jersey-based Olympian Michael Barisone at a yet-to-be-determined date.

Rosslyn Smith of American Thinker clears up some misconceptions of dressage being an elitist, expensive, exclusive sport in “To the Olympics for Ann Romney.”

Far from being an effete sport dressage is for all riders who want better control of a more athletic horse, be it a six figure Olympian, working stockhorse or a backyard pony.

In “Ann Romney’s High Horse,” Buzzfeed’s Rosie Gray publishes court documents regarding a lawsuit alleging that Ann Romney sold a horse that had three sedative pain killers and one narcotic pain killer in its system when the horse was vetted. The case was settled last September.

[Steven] Soule, who has been the United States Equestrian Team veterinarian since 1978, writes, “In my 38 years of practice, I have never come across a drug screen such as this where the horse has been administered so many different medications at the same time.”

The Hill‘s “Ann Romney, on horseback, explains therapeutic riding” follows Romney’s direct confrontation of what her critics have called an expensive hobby.

“I just want those people who have never experienced this to understand how magical these horses are,” Romney said, while sitting on a horse at the Marion Therapeutic Riding Association in Ocala, Fla., on Wednesday. “I just love coming out here and seeing they are helping others as well.”

Do you have any recommended reading? Please add links to the comments section below.

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