This is a rather oddly specific compliment, but it’s the best one I’ve ever got and it made me feel very proud at the time.
When I was younger, I used to horse ride a lot. When I was at university, I used to ride at a place run by the legend that was Ronnie Massarella. If you’re horsey, you’ve probably heard of him. If you’re not horsey, he was the team manager of the British showjumping teams back in the day.
Riding at Ronnie’s was great. He never taught us, but he would sometimes come and watch the lessons. I was in the intermediate to advanced group, and I regularly rode a big chonk of a horse called Henry.
Henry was a Big Boy, like over 17 hands of chestnut attitude. He was a lot of horse to handle, and was one of those horses that wouldn’t do the thing unless you gave him the right commands. Henry was a bugger at times, but it was usually rider error if he wouldn’t obey. I learned a lot from riding him.
One lesson, Ronnie was watching me and a friend ride and when we had halted for a moment, he came over to me and said ‘you have beautiful hand and leg co-ordination, I have never seen this horse look so relaxed in his back until I watch you ride him.’
I almost exploded. A compliment from the great man himself made my entire life. I would have loved to actually have a lesson with him, but that never happened. And honestly, the compliment was enough.
I’m blushing just remembering it, and this was way back in 1999. Funny how things stick with you, isn’t it?