The Los Angeles Times ran an article on May 22 headed, “On a Trail of Her Own.” It tells the story of Ann Romney’s “passionate engagement in a rarefied sport that she believes helps her deal with a debilitating chronic illness,” multiple sclerosis.
The Times reports that Mrs. Romney “fell in love with dressage, a fussy Olympic sport that is also called ‘horse ballet.’ . . . Because it requires tremendous muscle control, dressage also provided Romney unexpected therapeutic benefits.”
The author, Robin Abcarian, spends much of the article detailing the costs of owning dressage horses. “Dressage is not for the faint of wallet,” she notes. Indeed, Mrs. Romney once bought a horse for $105,000, which is, of course, a lot of money, although she did eventually sell him for $125,000 — not a bad turnaround. Abcarian continues, “Insurance documents in the court file indicate that . . . Ann Romney paid $7,800 to insure five horses against mortality and theft for amounts ranging from $50,000 to $135,000 per horse.”
The insinuation, which more than a few other commentators have picked up on, is that Ann Romney’s dressage riding is another example of, as Trip Gabriel of the New York Times put it, how “out of touch with average Americans” the Romneys are. (Gabriel’s story ran on the front page under the headline “In Rarefied Sport, a View of the Romneys’ World.”) Buzzfeed broke the news last week that Mrs. Romney’s horse would be competing in an Olympic trial. The media have reported on the number of homes the Romneys own, the types of cars Ann drives, and the vacations they take. And of course, according to Hilary Rosen, we should not forget that Ann has never worked a day in her life.
Ann Romney, though, is not the first wife of a politician to enjoy horseback riding. John F. Kennedy married a woman who first sat on a horse at the age of one, and who began learning how to ride at age three. According to The Private Passion of Jackie Kennedy Onassis: Portrait of a Rider, by Vicky Moon, “What many people don’t realize is how vital a role horses played throughout Jackie’s often star-crossed life. As a little girl . . . she found companionship and comfort with her pony Buddy. As a woman aching for the presence of her husband . . . riding a horse through the wide-open countryside brought sanctuary. Later in life, the lonely widow and reluctant celebrity found anonymity and solace in riding.”