The ever charming Ronnie Healy has collected multiple championship wins locally and abroad, and is now establishing a teaching base and yard again on South African soil. Let’s get to know him!
- Name: Ronnie Healy
- DOB: 22 November 1983
- Nicknames: Roxy, Rockette
- Three words that best describe yourself:
Confident, perfectionist, winner.
- Give us a brief history on your riding journey. Childhood, your time overseas etc.:
Childhood – I didn’t have ‘great’ ponies… I used to fall off a lot. I only had one good pony at the end of my Children’s career, which was Rockafella. He was a good one. In Junior’s I had a few ‘normal’ horses.
What do you mean by normal?
I think they jumped the 1.20s. I then moved to Ronnie Lawrence and started to buy some nice horses and I got an import. Obviously then the riding career took off a bit. I jumped (I think I was 17) my first World Cup and then at 21, left. Went overseas for 10 years. Over there, the highs were 2nd in Hickstead, 5th in Hickstead, 5th in the Hamburg Derby, and then many other great moments.
- What was your first great equestrian moment? Wins, achievements, realisations etc?
I won the SLK. I think I jumped 6 clear rounds and then it went to a jump off between four of us. I don’t think I even had my learner’s license at the time. That was a long time ago.
- Who is/was your “horse of a lifetime”?
Rockett. She was a Dutch warmblood (the import I bought in the time I was riding with Ronnie Lawrence). I got her as a 5year old and produced her through Juniors, and took her into Adults. She won me the car, won the Horse & Rider of the Year…she won most things. She was just an absolute winner! She loved to win as much as I did. You could go as fast as you wanted down to whatever and she’d jump. She taught me the most – patience. She wasn’t easy, she was very strong headed, strong minded. She put me on the map. If it wasn’t for her, I don’t think I’d be where I am today.
Did she go overseas with you?
No, she stayed here. She had an injury towards the end of her career and when I wanted to go overseas. I could have taken her, but it was too much of a risk. I ended up selling her to a little Junior here, and now she’s having babies!
- Horses in your string at the moment:
Gryphon Rouge (1.50m)
Blue Turtle Atmore (1.35m)
Mac Calgrann (1.30m)
Capital Upbeat (1.20m)
Capital Callisto (1.20m)
Kelly’s Heir (1m dealing horse)
Buffalo Run (1.10m dealing horse)
- Even top riders need someone experienced on the ground to keep both horse and rider ‘in check’. Who are you working/riding with at the moment? Further comment.
100% I agree with that. I’m working with Dominey Alexander. He is a fantastic trainer. He’s good with horses and riders. Obviously he does Dressage as well so he’s good on the flat, which is what I like. All round good guy!
In terms of getting a different perspective from, is there anything he has changed with your riding?
I wouldn’t say he has changed anything, he has just emphasized things more. You know when you think you’re doing something – “is that right, isn’t it right” – he’ll back you up and encourage more of it, and show the value in what you’re doing. He’s been really good.
- You’re a top rider, yard owner, coach, and obviously there is life outside of horses. Do you have a preparation method or routine, and how would you ensure you’re 100% focused on show day?
Come show day, I would say the desire to win gets me prepared. I’m pretty laid back, I don’t get nervous or anything so I don’t really have to prepare myself. I think wanting to win or do very well gets me in that state.
Big match temperament…
Yeah, I’d like to think so. I love big crowds – the more the merrier. I don’t get nervous in front of crowds, I’d say I grow with it. Luckily I don’t have that problem.
And your own physical preparation?
The rider needs to be fit too. My problem is I love to eat so I have to watch what I eat because my top horse is a little horse at the minute. Even so, I think if you’re a little bit overweight – you’re a little bit lethargic, you’re slower to think… so those are the margins between winning and not. So I do watch what I eat – lots of salads, proteins and veg. Not so much carbs. And gyming. I gym as often as I can.
Every horse is different, but preparation of the horse?
It depends on the event you’re leading up to. Obviously we’re leading up to Derby now so the horses are increasing their fitness, diet. Everything starts to change. The fitter they are and the harder they work, the more food they need. So now my plans are obviously for Derby, with those specific horses and they are starting to do track work. And myself as well – get fitter for that as well. I remember my first time, I was exhausted and swore I’d never be unfit again.
- Plans/goals for the near future & longer term?
I’d like to have a good go at Derby. I’d say the horse (Rouge) doesn’t have many years left in him at that level. So also for the owner…I’d like to give it a good go on the horse. For the next year or so – I’ve got some really nice young horses that I’d like to be jumping in the 1.50m classes and produce the string a bit more. Long term – grow myself as a trainer, produce and sell a few more horses through to the next level, and maybe start a family one day!
- Lastly, equestrians make use of a variety of tools, equipment, and riding gear on both horse and rider, in their quest for the perfect performance. Do you have a favourite item at the moment?
As a rider, the Equiline clothing range is unbelievable, especially for this country. It’s light, suits our climate, great material to help with comfort whilst riding in the climate. Durable too! GPA – number 1 safety helmet in my eyes. It’s comfortable and with all that, you also look good, which I like when I go in the ring. I like to look the part!
Horse – all of mine are in the Veredus boots. They are the best boots for jumping, for the horses’ performance, and of course safety and protection of their legs. Majority of the other tack is Ikonic – girths, bridles and breastplates. They look fantastic and offer great value.
Ronnie Healy at his competitive best: