Suzanna Hext’s para dressage blog: I was hopelessly terrified

  • It must be said that I certainly come with a warning sign attached to me at the moment. I’m extremely grumpy and I want to be back in the saddle, gym and pool!

    Having said that, I have just successfully undergone my first operation (out of the 10 since my accident), that hasn’t resulted in some crazy unheard of medical reaction, but perhaps this is why I’m chomping at the bit so much. Last Friday, I had a cartilage graft of my left eardrum in order to try and avoid having so many recurrent infections and burst ears drums.

    I am now on countdown, I only have until Wednesday until I’m allowed back in the saddle again and the gym. However, the swimming pool is going to have to wait for the the green light for the moment from my surgeon.

    My friends have been doing a good job of keeping me distracted. I’ve had lots of visitors and we even ventured to the zoo in Bristol for an impromptu day out.

    I can’t tell you how hopelessly terrified I was of having my recent surgery, especially after what happened last year. I think it was the unknown that scared me the most. I knew the doctors would know what to do if the same ordeal happened again, but it was being so out of control that worried me, especially for my poor mum who was sat waiting throughout my surgery. It must have been a relief for her not to have an anaesthetist running towards her in a panic this time. I don’t like to make things easy.

    Making the most

    I certainly made the most of my last few weeks prior to my operation. I went hell for leather packing in all the swimming, riding and gym work I could. Some may ask how on earth I lasted the two years after my accident! All I can say is my poor family…

    I managed to cram in two incredible early morning lake swims with Colin and Dean, one at 1.5 degrees (outside temp) and the other when it was raining. I can honestly say it’s the most unreal feeling swimming in the lake when the rain’s coming down around you. You’re so close to where the rain drops land, it’s a bizarre feeling, and swimming when it was 1.5 degrees did seem a bit barmy, but once I got over the brain freeze or ‘ice cream head’ as Colin calls it, I was away!

    When I’m in the water I feel free, much like I do on a horse. Nothing tops this feeling, and it’s like all my challenges fade away.

    Working hard — better never stops

    I’ve been working really hard in the gym with both Mike at Bath University and Gavin, who works at Oaksey House. I really feel like the hard yards are paying off — I feel so much more secure in the saddle and it’s helped my overall fitness and fatigue tolerance levels.

    The best bit about working hard in the gym and with the physio is seeing and reaping the benefits. This just spurs me on to achieve more and this has always been my specific drive.

    Below are some photos of how much easier I’m finding a couple of exercises.

    The boys

    The boys are on great form at the moment. They are both being kept fit by the fantastic team at Talland, and Davy is also coming up to school Sid once a week.

    Both horses have successfully qualified for the Para winter championships and I’m aiming to try and compete Sid at advanced medium level a couple more times over the winter.

    I have squad training next week at the Unicorn Centre. We are very lucky to have Yogi coming down to give us some pole work lessons — do you think I can persuade him to pop a little fence up?! I’m not sure what Sid would make of it…

    Swimming competition

    I had a very successful swimming competition a couple of weeks ago. This was an able-bodied club competition and I managed to get two PBs and a second and third in my heats.

    It was great fun — the atmosphere was electric and a little different to the feeling around a dressage arena when you can hear a pin drop. There was a real buzz to the day and great team spirit.

    Continued below…

    I managed to have two good dives, thanks to Paula and Dean for holding me up on the first day and Paula and Gerry for holding me up on the second day. Although, my turns off the wall are pretty horrendous! I don’t seem to go anywhere and I find it hard to turn quickly enough and get any power out of my legs.

    I was still over the moon at the end of two day’s competing and thoroughly enjoyed it. I managed to have a go in the 50m pool at Bath University the other day which was truly amazing and so much easier for me, with not so much turning.

    That’s it for now and hopefully by the time I write my next blog, I’ll be in a far better mood and back in the swing of training hard again.

    “We lose ourselves in the things we love. We find ourselves there too”


    For all the latest equestrian news and reports, don’t miss Horse & Hound magazine, out every Thursday

    You may like...