Rafalca to Retire at Central Park Horse Show Next Month

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Rafalca performing with Jan Ebeling at the Olympics in London in 2012. © Ken Braddick/dressge-news.com
Rafalca performing with Jan Ebeling at the Olympics in London in 2012. © Ken Braddick/dressge-news.com

Aug. 15, 2014

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

Rafalca, the mare that became a media celebrity at the 2012 Olympic Games in London in the heat of the U.S. presidential campaign, will officially retire at the Central Park Horse Show in New York City Sept. 18-21.

Jan Ebeling, who has trained and competed Rafalca, will have the last official ride on the 17-year-old Oldenburg mare during the horse show at the Central Park’s Trump Rink in the heart of Manhattan.

Highlights of the event will be the $200,000 Rolex Central Park Grand Prix on Thursday; a Friday Night New York City vs. the World pro/am jumping competition; a Saturday evening World Dressage Challenge presented by Axel Johnson Group, and a Sunday afternoon polo match.

Rafalca and Jan, of Moorpark, California, had an unusually long Grand Prix career of seven years that included three World Cup Final appearances, in Las Vegas in 2009, Leipzig, Germany in 2011 and ‘s-Hertogenbosch, Netherlands in 2012 as well as two American Nations Cup teams at the World Equestrian Festival in Aachen, Germany.

However, the horse was the center of attention in 2012 due to the ownership group of “The Three Amigos”–Ann Romney, Beth Meyer and Amy Ebeling. Ann is the wife of the 2012 Republican presidential candidate, Mitt Romney.

Media focus from popular television comedy shows and late night talk show hosts in America and extensive news converage on television, Internet and major newspapers around the world made a celebrity of the horse. The dressage community in the United States overwhelmingly embraced the rare spotlight on their sport.

The issue became so heated at one stage that the Obama re-election campaign weighed in with derogatory ads about the horse. The commercials were withdrawn with an apology after it was pointed out that Ann Romney’s involvement in dressage came about through receiving horseback riding therapy lessons from Jan to deal with the debilitating onset of multiple sclerosis.

Rafalca won selection to the U.S. squad to go to Europe to compete for a place on the team for the World Equestrian Games this year but withdrew and returned home to California.

“We are beyond thrilled to be officially retiring her in Central Park at this mega event and want to give her a big sendoff,” Amy Ebeling told dressage-news.com.

“Jan will ride his freestyle one last time. There will be many of our friends, clients, and of course owners to be in attendance, most coming from the West Coast to rejoice her life and achievements.”

Rafalca was bred to Governer STR Aug. 8, and recipient mares have been prepared in the event it takes, and to ensure the mare is ready for the Central Park event.

Governer (Totilas x Jazz) was this year’s reserve champion KWPN stallion.