Trip Gabriel Digs Spurs In, Takes Ann Romney's Horse Story for Another Pointless Lap

New York Times campaign reporter Trip Gabriel followed up on his vital hard-news front-page expose of Ann Romney's horseback riding with an update on Sunday that also conveniently illuminated the stereotype of the Romneys as rich and out of touch, this time with the help of that quintessential man of the people, comedian Stephen Colbert: "Romney Horse Wins Spot on Olympic Dressage Team."

Mitt Romney and his wife, Ann, who plan to attend the opening of the Olympic Games in London this summer, now have a personal rooting interest in the event.

Jan Ebeling, Mrs. Romney’s longtime riding tutor, and his horse Rafalca, co-owned by Mrs. Romney, earned a berth on the United States Olympic dressage team on Saturday.

Mr. Ebeling, 53, who has spent a decade knocking on the door of top international competition, made his first Olympic team with a third-place finish here at the United States Equestrian Team Foundation headquarters, a century-old stable built by the financier James Cox Brady to adjoin his 64-room mansion.

Gabriel employed "Daily Show" comedian Stephen Colbert to represent public opinion.

As the wife of the presumed Republican presidential nominee, Mrs. Romney, through her involvement as a deep-pocketed patron, has brought dressage more attention than it has ever received in the United States, despite celebrating its 100th year in the Olympics. The comedian Stephen Colbert was the latest to focus on it, with a skit on his Comedy Central show last week that ribbed the sport’s fussy, elitist image.

“Folks,” Mr. Colbert said, “the image of Romney as a privileged princeling ends today, because now Mitt is just your average blue-collar fan of dressage."


But as Mr. Colbert’s satire suggested, the scrutiny may not be entirely a blessing for Mr. Romney’s image as a man in touch with the concerns of average Americans. As millions tune in to the Olympics in prime time this summer, just before Mr. Romney will be reintroducing himself to the nation at the Republican convention, viewers are likely to see “up close and personal” segments on NBC about the Romneys and dressage, a sport of six-figure horses and $1,000 saddles. The Romneys declared a loss of $77,000 on their 2010 tax returns for the share in the care and feeding of Rafalca, which Mrs. Romney owns with Mr. Ebeling’s wife, Amy, and a family friend, Beth Meyers.