"There's more time to fix whatever mistakes might have been or improve up on them, but the bad side is it's never happened this way before," Braddick said, noting the competition is usually over two days and the "huge gap" there means plenty of time for "head games" and "sitting around getting tense." And just as Rafalca and Ebeling possibly try to improve over the gap, their competitors will as well.
"The worst thing you can do in a sport is overthink and this time they have a lot of time to think," Braddick says.
So Who's Rafalca's Competition?
Braddick says the "biggest competition" for Rafalca, Ebeling, and Team USA is "pretty much anybody in the field particularly Great Britain, Germany, and Denmark."
He specifically points to Great Britain's Valegro and rider Charlotte Dujardin, and America's Ravel and rider Steffen Peters as well as some of the young riders on Austria's team.
Germany has won every team dressage Olympics from 1984 on and Britain has never won any medal of any kind in 100 years. But this year is different. Braddick puts his chances on Great Britain's winning gold, Germany's snagging silver. Then the United States, Denmark , Spain and Sweden will all battle for bronze. That's for the team victories. Braddick stresses the individual medal is wide open.
"The most exciting thing is this is totally wide open, completely wide open," Braddick said. "It's not like you have Michael Phelps and the rest of the world. You have the rest of the world go battle it out."
In 2009, Ebeling and Rafalca had a poor performance at the 2009 Dressage World Cup in Las Vegas. Rafalca got spooked, but Braddick says Ebeling got "sports psychology help" for Rafalca, which has helped. Ebeling, along with his wife Amy, rides and trains at his facility, The Acres in Moorpark, California. It's also where he often trains Ann Romney, an amateur dressage rider.
Dressage's Most Famous Fan
The presumptive GOP nominee's wife has been vocal throughout the campaign about her love of riding and how it's helped relieve her of some of the symptoms of multiple sclerosis, which she was diagnosed with in 1998.
In June at a therapeutic horse riding facility in Ocala, Romney explained why it helps, saying the "four step gait" of the horse mimics the crawling of a baby and is why it helps build core strength in patients weakened from MS.
Her husband jokes that her love of horses sometimes competes with the attention she pays to him. One Christmas their five sons gave him a box with the words, "Wear this and Mom will pay more attention to you" written on it. It was a horse mask.
They Get There How? And Veepstakes Watchers Turn to Dressage Ebeling has taken to Twitter to share details of his life with Rafalca while they prepare for the competition, everything from making vegetarian risotto for Team USA to the interesting way his now-famous horse got to London (Rafalca ate watermelons on the way).
"@JanEbeling @USEquestrian team packed up and horses are shipping out tonight on 0300 Fedex flight to London! Safe travels @RafalcaRomney#TeamUSA"
They have been flying horses since 1956, but the carriers, whether it be FedEx or another airline, does change.