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Suzanna Hext’s road to recovery: Give it all you’ve got

It’s not very often that I am totally stuck on where to start my blog. I just have so much to spill, and everything has been so exciting.

I can barely keep up with my life at the moment, and to think that it wasn’t long ago that I was twiddling my fingers and bored out of my mind.

It is probably due to this period of time where I couldn’t do anything that I have now taken it to the extreme and get ‘ants in my pants’ if I sit down!

The latest evening activity involves physio balls and Georgie (my housemate) and I becoming competitive about who can kneel on the ball for the longest. It has resulted in Georgie saying, and I quote, “I don’t even have spasms and my legs are going into spasm!”

It’s become reality

amo hartpury

All I want to do is pinch myself to check I’m not dreaming and make sure my life has actually taken off in a crazy whirlwind — I am having trouble letting it sink in after such an endless battle.

Over the weekend I set off for my first Grade 2 para competition at Hartpury College. I was very excited as this is what I have been working towards since the first time I sat in my saddle in a physio session with Gemma months ago. Therefore, I was a little bit apprehensive.

I’m still trying to get used to the fact that you, a.) hardly have any tack to take for dressage and b.) you don’t need to factor in walking a cross-country course or getting your number. It’s all so quiet and chilled, I almost feel like I need some form of carnage unfolding or loud speakers going off — I’m still learning!

Amo was an absolute saint to get on and she stood like a rock as my legs spasmed into place.

My first test was unfortunately a little bit tense and Amo thought the judges were quite scary. I scored 61.44% and came 2nd.

My second test was much more relaxed on both our parts! We ended up winning and scored 63.4%. I was so chuffed with how she performed. Riding in the main Hartpury indoor arena was the most incredible feeling.

When I went to get off Amo after all the excitement, adrenaline and fatigue of both tests, my legs both went into spasm and I ended up being lifted to the lorry steps — lucky I’m not too heavy!

My already incredible day was rounded off perfectly when I helped put Amo to bed and I managed to spend some one to one time with her after a very special day. She didn’t mind me hopping around her to put her rug on, something I bizarrely saw as another achievement ticked off.

Can I confess to being a total emotional wreak on the way home? (All good emotions). I think I am just completely overwhelmed, so happy, and maybe slightly overtired. It means so much to me and I loved every minute!

I can’t thank the Team at Talland (especially Pammy and Emma) enough for making me the luckiest girl in the world and believing in me the whole way through.

Training

summerhouse

In my recent lessons at Talland with Pammy, I have seen an influx of eventers coming out the woodwork, getting ready for the season ahead. More recently I have seen Padraig McCarthy and Nicky Roncoroni, both looking in great form in their lessons with Pammy.

It’s been great to feel like I can ride alongside them again, although I am very jealous that they are about to head into the eventing season, something I will always miss.

In my lessons with Pammy we have been keeping a track of my spasms, timing and how long it takes for me to get going again after a major episode. In my notebook we are also logging areas that I need to improve on.

I have been perfecting my tests recently, and in the run up to the BD competition at Summerhouse (pictured above) I had a lesson with Abi Hutton (wife of Pammy’s son Charlie) who frequently rides Amo and knows her inside out. Abi used to compete her a lot, so she gave me lots of tips on how to ride her and helped me run through my tests.

Rehab — a range of exercises

My spasms are particularly bad at the moment, I think it’s a combination of the cold weather and doing a lot more on a daily basis.

At Oaksey, we have continued with the climbing and trampoline exercises as I mentioned last time. Cat has also been getting me to work on some more core exercises and log rolling myself across the room and keeping control of the spasms.

At Cadbury House Gym, Sam has been helping me work on any exercises I’m given at Oaksey and then he also adds in more core and upper body exercises. He had me kneeling on a BOSU Balance trainer ball on one leg which was quite hard work.

All the exercises that I do are also great for riding as I need to be strong — especially as I ride without stirrups the whole time!

Pogo Pandemonium

Newbury RC

The pogo evening was such a fantastic night (pictured). It was held at Newbury Racecourse and was run and organised by the amazing Claire Lomas to raise funds for the Nicholls Spinal Injury Foundation (NSIF), to continue to find a cure for paralysis, which is getting ever closer.

I helped with the raffle early on in the evening. Everyone was extremely generous and you could see that they were right behind Claire. They managed to raise over £7,000 that evening for NSIF.

In the end the winner of the pogo competition was National Hunt jockey and Channel 4 Racing presenter Sam Thomas. I am very surprised there were no injuries along the way as everyone seemed to be getting very competitive.

We then decided it would be a good idea to take on the only night club in Newbury. This was very entertaining, and ended up with me being carried to the taxi, as every time I laughed my legs went into spasm and I either stopped or fell over. There does seem to be a common with these nights (Barbury, Tiggy’s 30th and Newbury) the common theme being Jade Lazenby!

I’m an Auntie

jack

Sophie did a very good job of being on time for me to see her little man. Very conveniently she gave birth to Jack the night I drove home for a hospital appointment the next day.

Not only that, but my appointment was opposite the maternity building. Well done, Soph! He is so gorgeous and just perfect, I am looking forward to seeing him next weekend when I go home — I’m sure he will have changed a great deal!

My hospital appointment went well. It was an orthotics appointment to have a new splint made up to help my foot placement. My physio from Cornwall, Gemma (from Peninsula Community Health) came to the appointment with me to discuss with them what kind of splint would be best. This is plan A, there are a few more options left, so fingers crossed!

Out and About

A couple of weekends ago I spent a long weekend in Dorset with my great friend Annabel Yarrow and a few other friends.

It was a jam-packed weekend: following the Portman Hunt, two dinner parties and most importantly Annabel helping me to become more domesticated — I prepped a lot of vegetables for the dinner parties and also for Annabel’s catering business on the Sunday.

I even mastered standing on a gate (those climbing sessions at Oaksey came in handy!) so I could see the hunt a bit more clearly. However, it’s got to be said that my dismount was slightly less graceful — more of a plummet to the ground!

To Follow

I have seemingly already ticked off two of my ‘what will 2015 bring phases’ including becoming an Auntie and getting out competing.

Not very long ago I doubted whether my life would ever change, how wrong I was…

‘You’ve only got three choices in life: give up, give in or give it all you’ve got.’

Suz

amo summerhouse1

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