(WASHINGTON) — Ann Romney’s dressage trainer Jan Ebeling and the horse they co-own, Rafalca, came in third this weekend at the United States Equestrian Federation National Dressage Championships in Gladstone, N.J. The competition, which will continue next weekend, also serves as an Olympics qualifying event for the U.S. Dressage Team for the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
Romney is avidly involved in the expensive world of dressage, sometimes known as “horse ballet,” and credits horseback riding for almost eliminating her symptoms from multiple sclerosis, which she was diagnosed with in 1998.
According to a USEF press release, Ebeling was the first to go, scoring 71.489 percent. The release said the “comfort level” between Rafalca and Ebeling was “evident in the ring.” Ebeling has been riding Rafalca for six years.
The same release says the wife of the presumptive GOP nominee was on hand to watch Rafalca and Ebeling.
“I was really happy that they could all make it,” said Ebeling. “I think it is wonderful for our sport to have that visibility.”
Last week on a three-day campaign swing of Florida, Romney visited a therapeutic horse riding facility and told patients and staff there she was “not able to get out of bed” or even walk at one point because her MS symptoms were that severe. But the “excitement of getting on a horse” helped her.
“Horses are amazing teachers,” said Romney, who visited with other patients who like her use riding as therapy. “I love these wonderful, sweet companions that teach us so much.”
In a Los Angeles Times story last month, Robin Abcarian reported that despite Romney’s relatively late start in dressage, Romney won silver and gold medals in 2005 and 2006 at the highest level of competition from the U.S. Dressage Federation and she credits Ebeling with her success in the top tier of amateur dressage.
The Romneys are planning on attending the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London. Mitt Romney’s role overseeing the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics is an important selling point for his campaign on the trail. He consistently stresses on the stump how he was able to save the games from scandal and financial disarray, citing it as an example of his turn around skills and management experience.
On Monday, Ann Romney will attend a fundraiser in Spartanburg, S.C., with GOP bundler and investment fund executive Barry Wynn, according to a Romney aide. Wynn stopped supporting Rick Perry during the GOP primary and went to the Romney camp in January when Perry started attacking Romney’s record at Bain Capital.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Dan Merica and Sophie Tatum, CNN
Laura Koran, CNN
Herb Scribner, Deseret News
Stephen Collinson and MJ Lee, CNN