2017 couldn’t have turned out much better — gaining a place on my first championship team, winning three gold medals at the Europeans, being moved up onto the National Lottery World Class Podium squad, receiving a BEF Medal of Honour at Olympia, treasured time spent with my family and friends, invites to various events such as BBC Sports Personality of the Year, winning a swimming competition, and to top it off, ending the year as FEI world number one in my grade.

To begin, I just want to take this time to thank a few people who I couldn’t have done this without — Pammy and Charlie Hutton, Henrietta Cheetham (The Lady Joseph Trust), my incredible family and friends, my sponsors, the Lottery Funded World class support team, doctors, nurses, and Dal and Rob at Oaksey House that keep me in one piece and tame my uncooperative body! No words truly justify how grateful I am for all your support.

New Year, new goals

Now it’s time to set new goals, analyse and focus on any areas that will help make marginal performance gains over the coming year. I have been working extremely hard over the winter in the gym and pool on my overall fitness and I’ve also made sure I’ve had some down time for once — some of which was enforced rest when I was snowed in (I did however manage to build a slightly dubious looking snowman outside my front door!).

As always, my main focus is to continue to be passionate about what I do. I think this is a fundamental part of gaining any success. Early mornings, late nights and the tough times are all made a lot easier and put in perspective if you love what you do. One thing I have certainly learnt from my accident is to cherish every moment, and that life’s far too short to sweat the small stuff. You have to make memories and treasure them. I never want to look back in years to come with regret that I’ve not given it everything I’ve got.

365 new days, 365 new chances

My philosophy in terms of ‘my zone’ for sport psychology, has always been based around core values and what is important to me. Most of all, enjoying what I do.

So, what are my main focuses, aside from the above in 2018? Allowing my body the time it needs to rest and structuring in some down time (this will be music to my physio’s ears!), my nutrition (pre-planning and increasing my daily intake), looking at starting an Open University degree, searching for my next up and coming superstar para horse and continuing to work on my overall fitness. Only a few areas to work on!

Collecting my award at Olympia

Sid’s back

When I returned home from the Europeans with Abira in September, I quickly realised that Sid wasn’t quite himself. I couldn’t put my finger on it, he was just getting extremely tired and didn’t have any spark.

We ran some bloods and over time he began to go downhill and it became clear that he was suffering from liver disease. I don’t think we will ever know how he contracted it, but after a stay in B&W Equine Vets for a week and various setbacks, he’s now on the right track and he has just started back in walk work — although he definitely thinks walk work is pretty boring already! Fingers crossed he continues in the right direction.

Sid

I can’t thank my sponsors and previous workplace, B&W Equine Vets enough for all their help. In particular Imogen Johns for treating him and continuing to stay positive throughout. I certainly miss not working among such a fantastic team, but I know it was the right decision to focus on my future as a para athlete and see where it takes me.

My swimming is going well

New sponsor

I’m extremely excited to announce that I have gained a new valuable sponsor on board. FMBs Therapy Systems are going to be a huge asset to the team and the FMBs Activo med rug will come into its own and be a useful addition to my horse’s routine — travelling abroad, competing and helping to maintain their overall condition on a daily basis.

Enjoying a day out with friends

My journey simply wouldn’t be possible without my sponsors — they are an integral part of the team. I am always on the lookout for new sponsors and I am currently looking for any lorry companies that would be interested in helping support me on my journey and enabling me to have a lorry that is more suitable for me and my disability and of course who would enjoy being a part of an incredible team and future.

Continued below…

I’m also currently searching for my next para superstar. I’m a grade three rider, which means our tests are walk and trot. As such the horse MUST have an exceptional walk and trot with a wow factor. The perfect candidate must be aged between six- and 10-years-old, be 16-16.3hh and must also be safe with a good temperament. Plus it must be naturally forward going as I have very little use in my legs.

Please contact me if you know of any possible horses for sale via suzannahext@hotmail.co.uk

‘Life is only a reflection of what we allow ourselves to see’
Suz