|USEF national dressage technical advisor Anne Gribbons (left) and newly minted Olympians Jan Ebeling, Tina Konyot, Steffen Peters, and Adrienne Lyle show their foam-finger spirit. Photo by Jennifer Bryant.|
No surprise there, considering the recent NYT story portraying dressage as a fusty, snooty sport populated only by the so-called 1 percent--including, of course, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and his wife, Ann. Ann, a dressage rider herself, co-owns the Oldenburg mare Rafalca, who is London Olympics-bound with rider Jan Ebeling.
With a "Dressage #1" foam finger in one hand, a beer in the other, and tongue firmly in cheek, Colbert proclaimed dressage his "sport of the summer" and said it was "perfect for Joe Six-Pack" (while showing footage of Rafalca passaging).
Although a few fans have expressed disappointment in Colbert's routine, most--including Ebeling himself--have embraced the unexpected publicity boost and run with it.
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. And after today's Olympic Grand Prix Special and the conclusion of the 2012 US Equestrian Federation National Grand Prix Dressage Championship, red "Dressage Is #1" foam fingers were distributed to audience members, who waved them enthusiastically behind an understandably volatile Rafalca and a game Jan Ebeling.
|Jan Ebeling, Rafalca, and the foam-finger fans. Photo by Jennifer Bryant.|
Eliciting understanding nods and laughs from the reporters and photographers who clustered around her, Romney said: "Giving speeches is easy. Going down center line--now that makes me nervous!"
Between the political campaign and Rafalca's successful bid for the 2012 US dressage Olympic team, "It's been an incredible year," Romney said. She declined to forecast Rafalca's chances in London, saying, "You never know with horses."
The Romneys will be in London for the Olympics, Ann Romney said. An accomplished rider herself, she does get to ride Rafalca--understandably not so much these days, however. "When the day comes that she retires, I will ride her," she said.
In a final gesture of support to the dressage community, Ann Romney presided over a special presentation to Rebecca Hart, who won the 2012 USEF National Para-Equestrian Championship earlier this week.
|Ann Rommey poses with 2012 USEF National Para-Equestrian Dressage Champion Rebecca Hart on Lord Ludger. Photo by Jennifer Bryant.|