Jan Ebeling & Rafalca—A Marriage in Perfect Rhythm
Wednesday, June 11, 2014
Posted by Megan Arszman
If it wasn’t for a strict German grandmother, there probably wouldn’t be the dynamic pairing for Jan Ebeling and Rafalca competing in Gladstone this week. Instead, Ebeling could be preparing for maybe a shot at the World Cup of soccer championship. But, luckily, Ebeling’s grandmother insisted she sign him up for a local riding club when he grew up in Northern Germany. After learning the basics with his riding club, he started to ride under the watchful eye of the late German master Herbert Rehbein, honing his skills as a dressage rider. In 1984 he immigrated to the United States and in 1998 became a citizen so he could compete under the Stars and Stripes.
Flash forward to a phone call in 2006 when his business partner, Christian Heinrich in Germany told Ebeling about a bay Oldenburg mare named Rafalca (Argentinius x Ratine x Rubenstein). The mare’s temperament and consistency quickly grabbed Ebeling’s heart and the pair competed in the World Cup in 2007, 2009, 2011, and 2012, including being a member of the United States Olympic Team for the 2012 London Olympics and the bronze medal winning team in Aachen CDIO 2013.
“She has a really amazing temperament. She really wants to please and work hard,” explains Ebeling. “As far as movement, she is a very correct mover. Over the past years there really isn’t a part of the Grand Prix that she is unsure about—every movement is rock-solid. She’s very easy and focused. It’s been assuring for me to have such a reliable horse.”
Ebeling explains that the mare shines throughout the whole test, and is one to watch from the first to the last halt.
“She really shines through the whole test for accuracy—she’s a very correct horse. Her halt is usually very square,” he says. “She doesn’t have a huge extension like some horses, but I think her brilliance in her accuracy and I think that’s how she’s always received high marks.”
After eight years together, the partnership is still flourishing and is, perhaps, at its peak. “I would say she’s peaking,” says Ebeling. “I am very fortunate that our training program allows her to compete even now. I know a lot of horses are past her peak—she is right on right now. She works and has no problem. I would say she’s in top form.”
The 17-year-old mare receives the Adequan® i.m. (polysulfated glycosaminoglycan) treatments on an as needed basis, as well as a daily supplemental program through Platinum Performance.
“We have seen great results in the longevity of Rafalca by using Adequan® i.m. and Legend® (hyaluronate sodium) Injectable Solution for seven years,” explains the Ebleings’ veterinarian, Kent Sullivan, DVM. “We tailor her program depending on the intensity of her training and her show schedule.”
Jan and his wife, Amy (who owns one third of Rafalca, along with Beth Meyer and Ann Romney), credit the combination of Adequan® i.m., a solid nutrition using Cavalor feed and supplementation program, and his training program at his farm in Moorpark, Calif., as the keys to Rafalca’s longevity in the show ring.
“I make sure that I don’t overwork her. She’s given down time, but she’s not locked up in her stall all day. She goes out for trail rides or we’ll work on low jumps,” says Jan.
“There are days that we work on transitions and that has really worked for her. It keeps her fresh and she really wants to go to the shows. She really enjoys going to the shows, and I think that’s also where she gets her brilliance from. She has a lot of fun doing that.”
“I think the combination of the training and our care has just been really fantastic and been a great way to keep her going,” agrees Amy.
Shining in the Show Ring
While it might be hard for Jan to narrow down one place where Rafalca shines brightest in the dressage arena, history has shown high marks for Rafalaca in the piaffe because of her solid rhythm. She also shines during her Freestyle performance to Usher’s “O.M.G”, a music compilation chosen by Amy and their son, Ben, and put together by Karen Robinson.
“She really loves the music and the electric atmosphere,” says Jan.
“(Our partnership) is a little like a marriage. Especially after being together for so long, you know your partner very well,” continues Jan. “I can tell when I get on and start walking her how that day is going to go. She hardly ever has a bad day—certainly there are days where she is tired, but I can tell within the first two minutes what I’m going to have that day. We’ve developed a really close partnership and I think that’s also part why she is so solid and so dependable, because we just know each other.”
This marriage is hoping to move onto the next level, competing at Gladstone, and followed by a trip to Europe. Jan’s major goal for Rafalca is a spot on Team U.S.A. for the dressage at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games 2014 in Normandy, France, in August.
“She is on top. We’re certainly hoping we’ll make the WEG team, and that’s our goal,” he says. “I think after that we’re going to slow down a little bit. We would like to breed her and I would love to have a baby out of her because she is an amazing, wonderful horse.”
Adequan® i.m. Brief Summary: For the intramuscular treatment of non-infectious degenerative and/or traumatic joint dysfunction and associated lameness of the carpal and hock joints in horses. There are no known contraindications to the use of intramuscular Adequan® i.m. brand Polysulfated Glycosaminoglycan in horses. Studies have not been conducted to establish safety in breeding horses. Each 5 mL contains 500 mg Polysulfated Glycosaminoglycan. WARNING: Do not use in horses intended for human consumption. Not for use in humans. Keep this and all medications out of the reach of children. Caution: Federal law restricts this drug to use by or on the order of a licensed veterinarian. SEE PRODUCT PACKAGE INSERTS FOR FULL PRESCRIBING INFORMATION. Adequan® is a registered trademark of Luitpold Pharmaceuticals, Inc. ©LUITPOLD PHARMACEUTICALS, INC., Animal Health Division, Shirley, NY 11967.
Legend® is a registered trademark of Bayer HealthCare LLC, Animal Health Division.
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