Phelps Got Gold, Rafalca `Awesome’

Photograph by Markus Schreiber/AP Photo

Rafalca is ridden by Jan Ebeling from United States during the equestrian dressage competition, at the 2012 Summer Olympics, on Aug. 2, 2012, in London.

Rafalca gave it the old stable try today.

The now-famous horse from California that walks sideways — part of the dressage drill — made a graceful showing in London’s summer games.

Yet the horse part-owned by Ann Romney, wife of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Ronmey, placed 13th in her Olympic debut — with a score of 70.243 — and will await results from Friday’s events to determine if she advances to the Grand Prix Special on Tuesday.

American swimmer Michael Phelps scored Gold, his 20th Olympic medal.

The horse’s “hallmark is obedience and accuracy,” as one of the announcers explained.

Still, equestrian Jan Ebeling, rider of the 15-year-old mare wearing a “trucker cap,” acknowledged the second pirouette started “large” — though his “piaffes were really nice.”

“Rafalca took a while to settle at the start,” Bloomberg’s Thomas Penny and Daniel Rossingh reported — “lacking in contact with the bit and her rider’s reins in the extended trot. In the passage — an elevated, powerful trot — the German-bred bay mare made some uneven steps. Halfway through the performance, she settled down to show accurate flying changes, or lead changes at the canter in the air between two strides.”

Rafalca had become the subject of some political ridicule, with late-night comedians lampooning Romney’s “dancing horse” — a theme that the Democratic National Committee seized upon briefly in a video parody of Mitt Romney’s stance on the issues, until some complained that it was in poor taste. Ann Romney has taken to dressage as therapy for multiple sclerosis.

“There certainly was a lot of media attention going on,” Ebeling said, “but I think it turned out to be a good thing for the sport. And I don’t really get distracted by these things.’

Ann Romney had this to say of the competition: “It was awesome.”

“Elegant, consistent, fantastic,” she said of the performance at Greenwich Park.

There were some who suggested that the candidate was keeping his distance from the competition involving one of his more visible tax exemptions — saying in a television interview from London before the games that he wasn’t sure what day Rafalca would be riding. His wife declined to comment on her husband’s European tour, which included that interview in which he spoke of “disconcerting” security preparations for the games.

“I’m just here to see the horses,” she said today.

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