Rafalca, the 15-year-old Oldenburg mare co-owned by Anne Romney, U.S. presidential candidate Mitt Romney's wife, competed Thursday in the Individual Dressage at the 2012 London Olympics.

Rider Jan Ebeling, 53, was seventh place with a score of 70.243 as of Friday morning.

Romneys affiliation with the sport has been the subject of ridicule on the late night talk shows, especially "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" and "The Colbert Report."

Dressage, or horse ballet, involves a series of complicated maneuvers set to music, requiring close collaboration between the horse and its rider that the Fédération Equestre Internationale, the sport's governing body based in Lausanne, Switzerland, describes as "the highest expression of horse training."

The media scrutiny of Ann Romney's co-ownership of Refalca, a breed of horse with a mouthful-of-a-name, Verband der Züchter des Oldenburger Pferdes e.V., has been intense in the days leading up to the grand prix, which runs through Friday with individual and group competitions. Riders at the competition include a Saudi prince, Queen Elizabeth II's granddaughter and a French heiress -- not exactly the kind of folk a typical member of the Republican base would want to have a beer with.

"It's a problem for Romney because it reinforces the image people already have of him: that he is a very rich guy who is very different than you and me," Prof. Alan Abramowitz of Emory University told the New York Daily News. "This not a sport that most Americans are really into ... Honestly, it looks sort of strange."

Romney has been trying to buck a reputation of being a consummate "one percenter" who's disconnected to the constituents whose votes he needs to win the race to the White House. His affiliation with a sport associated exclusively with some of the world's wealthiest blue bloods isn't likely to negate conservative voters' anybody-but-Barack sentiments, but Romney isn't taking any chances.

Speaking to reporters during his visit to London last week, he said the whole dressage thing is his wife's pet project, and that he would not be watching the event.

"I'm not even sure which day the sport goes on," he told reporters during his visit to London over the weekend, where he angered the public with comments regarding the city's preparedness for the sporting event.

America's political left is having a field day with the issue, however.

"In a recent interview, Ebeling claimed that dressage can be pursued on a 'normal budget,' although he did not specify what he meant by normal. Horses like Rafalca cost more than $100k. So a family that earns the national median income of about $51,000 could buy a dressage horse, but they'd probably have to eat it to live," joked comedian Jordan Carlos on Comedy Central's Indecision blog.

"Horse prancing," as it has also been called derisively, isn't exactly America's favorite horse-related pastime, but it does have its loyalists, even on this side of the Atlantic.

Still, most horse-riding Americans prefer their sport to reflect an adversarial competition between horse and rider: rodeo (bronc riding). Both dressage and bronco riding celebrate individual steeds almost as much as their riders. The difference, as can be seen below, is that dressage involves cooperation between horse and rider in a dapper and orderly environment, whereas bronc busting is considered a rural, down-and-dirty, American cowboy sport where the rider and the horse are adversaries and injuries often occur.

Compare the two videos below for an idea of how distant horse ballet is from the horse-related pastime that's popular among many Republican constituents.


Bronc Riding