Young Rider, Political Ties Spark Buzz For Olympic Equestrians

Jun 18, 2012

LEXINGTON, Ky. - The United States Equestrian Federation is preparing its team lists for dressage, eventing, and show jumping to compete in this year’s summer Olympics.

Some political buzz is surrounding this dressage, the equestrian sport often described as horse ballet. The U.S. nominated entries list includes Jan Ebeling and horse Rafalca. Rafalca is co-owned by Ann Romney, wife of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

“It’s got some people paying attention to dressage that maybe haven’t before, and we’re hoping that that continues. Jan’s a very experienced rider and the horse is quite experienced. It’s been to a couple of World Cup finals,” says USEF spokeswoman Joanie Morris.

Nominated entries were also announced recently for show jumping ahead of the summer games in London.

Reed Kessler is on the list with her horse Cylana. The pair is moving from New York this summer to a farm in Lexington near the Kentucky Horse Park. Kessler is also turning 18 in July, just in time to compete on the world stage in London.

“So she’s as young as you can be to part of our Olympic team. She won the trials and just has kept up that level of performance and has jumped a lot of clear rounds.”

Morris says the other end of the age spectrum for the American jumping team is 53-year-old Rich Fellers, showing the longevity of the sport. Olympic veterans Beezie Madden and McLain Ward were also announced as nominated entries.

Early Monday morning, horses on the short list for eventing were flown to England for a final test competition. 

All final team lists will be announced in July.

Show Jumping Nominated Entries

1. Rich Fellers and Mollie and Harry Chapman's Flexible
2. Beezie Madden and Coral Reef Ranch's Coral Reef Via Volo
3. Reed Kessler on her own Cylana
4. McLain Ward and Grant Road Partners' Antares F

Dressage Team Nominated Entries

1/3. Steffen Peters and Four Winds Farm's Legolas 92 AND Ravel*
2. Tina Konyot and her own Calecto V
4. Jan Ebeling and Ann Romney, Beth Meyers, Amy Ebeling's Rafalca

*In the 2012 Olympic format, three athlete/horse combinations comprise the team and each rider can only ride one horse. Ravel was granted permission to not contest the Trials and is therefore ranked in third.