If I had to sum up the past couple of months in one word, it would be incredible! It’s taken a huge amount of teamwork from a number of people and two phenomenal horses.
There have been a couple of pretty huge milestones in the mix recently including the three year anniversary since I first sat on a horse after my accident, five years since my life changed within a split second, my first hack around the farm on the legendary Abira, moving house, a successful week with both horses at Hartpury Festival of Dressage and to top it off, selection for my first Para European Championships in Gothenburg. Eek!
The announcement of my selection for the Europeans coincided bizarrely with it being three years since I sat on Buster at Lakefield RDA in Cornwall for the first time since my accident. I am extremely excited and proud to be a part of such a great team heading out to the Europeans (Julie Payne, Sophie Wells and Natasha Adkinson will be my teammates). I’m not sure it will actually sink in until I am on my way out there.
I’ve been selected on Pammy and Charlie Hutton’s Abira and I am also lucky enough to have The Lady Joseph Trust’s and Henrietta Cheetham’s LJT Enggaards Solitaire as my reserve horse.
Pammy and I worked out Abira has done 28 internationals, won numerous national titles and this will be his fifth Europeans. What a horse…
I’m still pinching myself. To fulfil another childhood dream is completely mad. I always strived to get selected to ride for Great Britain when I was eventing, however, unfortunately I never achieved it. I was longlisted twice, once for the FEI pony event team and also for the young rider event team on my incredible mare Sweet Jemima (who is still going strong at the age of 25 at home with my parents in Cornwall).
Teamwork is a huge part of my achievements. There are a huge number of integral people involved — my fantastic owners, family, friends, sponsors, supporters, doctors, nurses, physios (Oaksey House), Talland and the National Lottery World Class programme — all of whom I couldn’t be without and I certainly wouldn’t be doing what I am today without their immense support. Not forgetting the Wiltshire Air Ambulance that rescued me in the first place.
The horses leave on 13 August to get settled into Arrow RDA for an overnight stay, before they start their journey on the 14th. I fly out on the 17th with the other team members.
Emily Reid will fly out with me, although now she’s decided to inform me that she’s not great at flying and if she has a couple of beverages prior to boarding the plane, then she’s fine! However, I’m not sure if that would be a slightly frowned upon on this trip, as she’s also in charge of looking after me on the flight out. Saying this, it would be great entertainment value! Emily will then travel with Abira on the way home.
Groom Tiggy Fuller is making the journey out to Sweden with Abira and then she will be flying home with me on the way back. I feel very lucky to have two super grooms coming out with me.
We are extremely privileged to have the fantastic backing of the World Class support team for both the horses and riders coming out with us. Hopefully, I can improve on my reputation of giving everyone a few more grey hairs and make sure I avoid any more scooter-related incidents!
Fingers and Hooves crossed.
Hartpury Festival of Dressage
My week at Hartpury couldn’t have gone much better in the sweltering heat. Abira and Sid were both on phenomenal form.
Abira did me proud and managed to win all three tests with some great scores. I found myself grinning as I trotted around the arena before I went up the centre line, as he was feeling so happy! I had to make myself concentrate and not get carried away in the moment.
Sid also produced some fantastic work, coming a close fourth on the first day — he was a bit underpowered in the heat. But on the second day he came out and put his best foot forward coming second to Abira. I was extremely lucky to have the fantastic help from the team trainer Michel Assouline on both horses for the week.
Tiggy had both horses looking a picture on all three days, and poor Gill had to contend with helping me avoid any ‘Suz moments’ — a mission that was successfully accomplished!
The big move into my new flat in Cirencester was made a lot easier with the news of selection, and also thanks to my great friend Jai and my parents. Not that my dad was very impressed by the amount of flat packed furniture he had to put together!
My new place is perfect — it is all on one level allowing me to use my wheelchair around the whole house, and to add to this, it’s also five minutes from the yard which is already making my life a massive amount easier…
“Life is 10% what happens to us, and 90% how we react to it”