As an avid equestrian that reads The Week, I was insulted by an article written recently in the July 6-13 2012 issue on the ridicule of the Romney’s horse Rafalca. Admittedly, the buzz around the horse has been a bit much, but that wasn’t what pissed me off. The tab that caught my eye on the top of the page, depicted Rafalca performing with Jan Eberling with the caption, “Making fun of dancing horses”. Intrigued, I turned to page 16 to read what was the most irritating posts I’ve read slandering equestrianism in a while.
From the very first comment that “a horse is a horse” made by Kathleen Parker of The Washington Post, to the comment made by Elspeth Reeve of The Atlantic that dressage is a sport of “infinite goofiness” I found myself becoming more and more enraged. Firstly, dressage is a sport of “balance, coordination, and posture”, something the author does point out in the article; before going on to quote various critics who belittle the sport with reckless abandon. The article goes on to include the inflammatory sentiment made by Amy Davidson of The New Yorker, that “it is as though each of the prancing horses were pacing out the shape of a dollar sign”. Dressage horses don’t “prance”, rather there are specific highly athletic maneuvers performed with incredible precision. Of course, to you it might seem contrived and silly…but no one seems to have a problem ignoring the fact that race horses are equally athletic and much more expensive.
No this entire article isn’t a total let-down: a comment from Matt Yglesias of Slate.com does address the fact that ‘horse expenses’ may somewhat incur skepticism for the Romney campaign, and that Romney’s pledge to eliminate certain tax deductions if elected could be overshadowed by the $78,000 in “passive losses” from their star mare. However, this still does not warrant the insensitive and wildly inaccurate image of dressage this article puts forth: you wouldn’t catch an equestrian saying Michael Phelp’s sport is comparable “synchronized swimming”