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Ann Romney's Horse in the Olympics

LONDON, England -- Ann Romney, wife of presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, has a vested interest in the Olympics.  It's much more than just the fact that her husband is attending the Opening Ceremony or that he helped organize the 2002 games.

 

She actually is co-owner of a horse, Rafalca, competing in dressage, one of the equestrian events at the 2012 games in London.

 

Ann Romney says watching her horse can be "nerve-wracking."

 

"When I'm watching my horse, it's like watching my children play sports...I know every move she makes. I know where she makes mistakes. I know where her weakness are. I know where she may lose confidence of the rider a little bit," Ann said in an interview on NBC's The Today Show Friday, when asked what's harder between her husband competing for president or a horse in the Olympics.

 

So what is dressage? There are three disciplines in the equestrian competition -- dressage, eventing and jumping, with 200 contenders vying for only six medals. 

 

The equestrian events start Saturday and go through the end of the games. Ann Romney is expected to be in town for the duration of the competition and will wait eagerly to see if Rafalca can bring home gold.

 

One interesting fact about the sport - men and women actually compete as equals.

 

In dressage specifically, the horse and rider do a series of movements known as a test and go through a series of phases to get to what's called the Grand Prix Special.

 

After the first phase, the Grand Prix, the best seven teams and the best 11 individuals who are not already qualified as team members progress to the Grand Prix Special and Grand Prix Freestyle.

 

Of course when your husband is running for president, everything becomes political, including horses.

 

The Democratic National Committee mocked her interest in horses, which some have also used to make the couple seem high-brow and out of touch.

 

They released an ad of dancing horses, trying to convey that Romney is dancing around the issue of not releasing enough of his taxes.

 

The ad backfired and the DNC later said they "regret" the ad after Ann Romney said she was offended because horse riding is part of her therapy for multiple sclerosis.

 

Her husband said he'd love to be there to watch also, but given his campaign schedule, can't make it.  The nominee is on a foreign listening tour and going to Israel and Poland after London.