Rafalca–Celebrity Mare is Star Born Again

6 years ago admin Comments Off on Rafalca–Celebrity Mare is Star Born Again
Jan Ebeling riding Rafalca for the United States at the Olympic Games in London in 2012. © Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
The highlight of Rafalca’s competition career, ridden by Jan Ebeling for the United States at the Olympic Games in London in 2012. © Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

April 29, 2014

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

Just when Jan Ebeling was looking at his lineup of Grand Prix successors to Rafalca and a graceful exit from the Big Tour for the Olympic celebrity mare, the horse he descibes as “17 years young” had her own ideas by producing the best rides of their long partnership.

“Rafalca was very focused and felt like she wanted to show off her stuff,” Jan, himself a veteran at 55 years of age, told dressage-news.com after competing at California’s Del Mar National CDI3* where they posted their highest ever Freestyle result.

With some of the highest Grand Prix results in America, the duo could rank second behind fellow Californian Steffen Peters and Legolas entering June’s Tim Dutta selection trials for the U.S. team for the World Equestrian Games in Normandy, France in late summer.

The performances by Rafalca presents Jan and the “Three Amigos” of Ann Romney, Beth Meyer and Amy Ebeling with a dilemma most owners could only dream of.

Jan rode FRH Rassolini that was bought last year by a syndicate including the three women, for a score of 78.600 per cent in a national Grand Prix at the same Del Mar show. He rode the 11-year-old Hanoverian stallion in their first CDI Grand Prix in Southern California earlier this year.

At Big Tour, Rassolini is still young, but Jan, who is based in Moorpark north of Los Angeles, believes the horse is on a really good path toward what he calls the “grand vision” of the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. The horse was the 2010 champion of Germany’s most prestigious small tour event, Nürnberger Burg-Pokal.

Jan Ebeling and FRH Rassolini. © 2014 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Jan Ebeling and FRH Rassolini. © 2014 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

Then, there’s Breitan that the “Three Amigos” bought back in 2008 and imported into the United States two years later.

Now, aged 9, Breitan, a Hanoverian stallion, has been moved up to the new Medium Level Intermediate B from small tour, scoring 77.976 per cent in the national division.

But it is Rafalca that has become the center of the buzz two years after the Olympics where the ownership connection with the wife of the Republican candidate for president of the United States placed the mare in the harsh glare of American politics and national media. Most was in good humor-frequently satirical, sometimes barbed. But the curiosity turned a spotlight on a sport that in the United States is a tiny niche and little understood. The dressage community embraced the rare attention.

Jan Ebeling and Rafalca joining in fans reaction to a television comedy spoof of dressage. © 2012 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Jan Ebeling and Rafalca joining fans in reaction to a television comedy spoof of dressage. © 2012 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

A couple of weeks before the latest CDI, Jan expressed the belief that Rassolini was becoming the main Grand Prix mount with Breitan coming along behind as the youngest of the FEI competition lineup. There are youngsters .

“I feel confident we have a bunch of nice talented horses,” he said. “We need the depth–each individual rider needs that depth coming up through the ranks.”

Breitan being ridden by Jan Ebeling. © 2014 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Breitan being ridden by Jan Ebeling. © 2014 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

Jan and the group of owners, he said, had thought about Rafalca as an Under-25 prospect or possibly still young enough to have a couple of babies.

The Oldenburg horse that he trained through the levels to their first Grand Prix in 2007 has competed at three World Cup Finals as well as the Olympics as well as top rated CDI5*s premier events on both sides of the Atlantic.

“What she has done for me and the sport she deserves to have a nice retirement,” he said at the time.

Rafalca may not be ready to be put out to pasture.