Mitt Romney’s Dancing Horse: The ice skating of riding

Published 2:21 pm Friday, July 6, 2012

People like the Romneys don’t blink while writing one of those checks. People like me not only blink, but feel our eyes begin to water when we write a check for a less stellar prospect that might run in the region of a used Subaru. We shop the clearance racks of TJ Maxx and don’t go on vacation because the transmission is going in the truck and we happily deny our own health care to make sure our steeds are kept comfortable.
My horse has a chiropractor. I don’t.
So am I jealous of Ann Romney? Oh, hell yeah.
Could we possibly have anything in common? As a matter of fact, yes.
Quite honestly, I have never known a more humble and hard working man. Between Jan, his wife, Amy, and barn crew, they run a top class facility which means Jan is on his first horse at 7:30 each morning, begins teaching around 10 a.m., and doesn’t leave the arena until 5 p.m., generally eating a sandwich standing in the arena at noon. This schedule was kept Monday through Friday after which Jan would go in the house, shower, pack, and be driven to the Burbank airport where he would fly across the country to teach clinics, arriving back home Sunday night. I was one of the lucky students who boarded a couple of horses at his facility and trained daily with him for two years.
And, according to Ann, by whom I sat on the stone steps overlooking the arena while Jan rode her beautiful grey gelding, it was at one of these clinics that they met.
It was in 2002 that I had flown back to Los Angeles for a meeting and thought I’d swing by Jan’s to say hello as I had moved away in 1999. Jan was riding and I sat beside an attractive blonde until he took a break to be able to chat.
She introduced herself and told me she owned the horse upon which he sat and felt indebted to him as she had been very ill with Multiple Sclerosis and had taken up dressage as a sort of physical therapy. Jan had taken her seriously as a rider and had worked diligently, taking her from a beginner to an accomplished competitor. It was now her turn, Ann said, to assist in helping him achieve his dream.
Now, watching the late night comics make fun of “Mitt Romney’s Dancing Horse,” I cringed for Jan as footage taken of him competing during World Cup was shown amid laughter from the studio audience. He doesn’t deserve to be portrayed as an elitist snob in a silly outfit.
He deserves to respected for working his butt off in a silly outfit (it’s a tradition thing, the whole top hat and tails get up).
So you can imagine why I choked up mightily while watching the Olympic selection trials from Gladstone, N.J., just a couple of weeks ago. There was Jan, in perfect alignment in the saddle, guiding Ralfaca through the precise and demanding movements of Grand Prix dressage, pulling out all the stops to maintain third place and secure the final spot on the team.
And he did — with style, graciousness and an enormous sense of humor as the crowds in the grandstand all wore huge foam fingers, a prop used by Stephen Colbert to sarcastically adopt dressage as his show’s ‘official summer sport,’ to cheer their support.
How sweet it is.
Thank you very much indeed, Mitt and Ann Romney.

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