In Rarefied Sport, a View of the Romneys’ World
A TRUSTED ASSOCIATE Jan Ebeling with Mitt and Ann Romney. Mr. Ebeling, a top-ranked dressage rider, tutors Mrs. Romney.
As Ann Romney immersed herself in the elite world of riding over the last dozen years, she relied on Jan Ebeling as a trusted tutor and horse scout. In her, he found a deep-pocketed patron.
A taskmaster, Mr. Ebeling pushed Mrs. Romney to excel in high-level amateur shows. He escorted her on horse-buying expeditions to Europe. She shares ownership of the Oldenburg mare he dreams of riding in the Olympic Games this summer. Mrs. Romney and her husband, Mitt, even floated a loan — $250,000 to $500,000, according to financial records — to Mr. Ebeling and his wife for the horse farm they run in California, where the Romneys use a Mediterranean-style guesthouse as a getaway.
The relationship has given the Romneys “the ability to enjoy the horses in a very safe and private haven, along with enjoying the people who provide them the service,” said Robert Dover, who knows the Romneys and Mr. Ebeling and his wife, Amy. “That friendship has stood the test of time.” It also offers a glimpse into the Romneys’ way of life, which they have generally shielded from view.
Protective of their privacy, they may also have been wary of the kind of fallout that came after Mr. Romney’s mention of the “couple of Cadillacs” his wife owned and the disclosure of plans for a car elevator in the family’s $9 million beach house in California, which prompted criticism that Mr. Romney was out of touch with average Americans.