Suzanna Hext’s road to recovery blog: sat nav issues and a big bang

  • As I’m sat writing this blog, I am banned from riding until next week and I am under strict orders to rest and “nap” — two things I’m not very good at, especially when it’s a stunning day outside! However, boredom did get the better of me this morning at 7.30am, so I went for a cheeky swim.

    I apologise for not having had a spare moment to write a blog recently. It’s been a hectic few weeks and I’ve got even more to come. I think I’ll then need to turn myself out to grass for a week! (AKA go home to my parents in Cornwall to avoid the temptation to do too much, and have a regular intake of Mum’s cooking.)

    The past month has been non-stop with the Nivana Spa Para winter championships, competing Amo at prix st george (PSG), World Class squad training, a fascinating visit to the Albion factory, a trip to Cornwall, strength and conditioning at Bath EIS, visits to Oaksey House, and competing Sid in the CPEDI3* in Deauville.

    Road trip

    Competing in Deauville last week was certainly one to remember. Sid was on phenomenal form and I really feel that we are beginning to consolidate our partnership together. He’s really trying for me, regardless of my slightly uncooperative body and one sat nav malfunction.

    Being part of the World Class squad going out to Deauville made a huge difference, the team support was massive and the camaraderie between all of us was fantastic. We all met at Arrow RDA on the Monday and the horses were checked (weighed, trotted up etc) by Rod and Karen (team vet and osteopath). Mark the saddler checked that all our saddles were fitting to allow the horses optimum comfort to perform. I am hugely grateful to Albion, as they have just made a new saddle specifically to fit Sid. Lucky Sid!

    The horses were transported out separately to us, by Mark Perry. The process of packing all our huge trunks into various trailers well practised and these were accompanied by a sea of scooters and wheelchairs in various different shapes and sizes.

    The whole experience was new to me, however never once was I worried. The team had it all down to a fine art. We travelled via the tunnel on the way out, which was also a new experience to me. I am still perplexed by the fact that you never feel like you’re going downhill or uphill while you’re in the tunnel.

    I travelled out in the car with Sarah Armstrong (chef d’equipe), the ‘berry’s’ (Paraberry and Dottyberry) and my team mates.

    Me with Paraberry (and a huge baguette!)

    As soon as the horses came off the lorry, they were weighed again and checked over. Sid had lost 3.5% of his bodyweight during the trip, however he seemed to go back heavier than he left! Mind you I think I joined him with that having eaten my bodyweight in baguettes and pastries.

    The horses settled in and had a leg stretch on the first day, and the following two days were filled with arena familiarisation, the trot-up on the Thursday, physio and a bit of down time. It’s amazing how much the journey takes out of you.

    Sid getting weighed

    Unfortunately, on the second day of arena familiarisation I had a little incident on Sid, in which the eventer seat in me came in handy! The speaker in the arena was plugged in and made a massive bang which understandably spooked Sid. This pulled my back and sent me into a horrendous all over body spasm. It was one of those unfortunate incidents, however, it knocked on to the rest of the week and meant poor Lucy had a lot of physio work to do on me and hence why I’m under orders to rest now.

    My parents came out to support me — it was incredible to have them there and they thoroughly enjoyed it.

    Michel training me on Sid

    I was extremely excited to be chosen as part of the Nations Cup team alongside Sophie Wells, Erin Orford and Susannah Wade.

    The first day was the team test in which Sid felt on flying form. Unfortunately the pilot left her sat nav at home and managed to go wrong. It was the first time I’ve ever done this and it will be the last! It was a horrible sinking feeling when you just don’t know where you’re going. I managed to pick it up and he was super, meaning we still managed to come second to the extremely experienced Rixt, and if I hadn’t gone wrong it would have been different. Easy in hindsight!

    Sid in his stable in Deauville

    Michel warmed Sid up for me each day, something that as a Grade 3 rider we are allowed. This made a huge difference and meant I could focus my energy into my performance in the arena.

    The second day of competition was the individual test (these are all new tests to us this year, and are slightly more difficult). Sid and his pilot were on track this time and managed to win a strong Grade 3 class. Also, as a team we managed to secure first place on the in the Nations Cup. Taking in the national anthem was a surreal feeling and made me feel so proud to be part of team GBR and have such an instrumental World Class support team around me.

    Sid strutting his stuff

    The final day was just a step too far for my body, and I was given the choice of whether I wanted to compete or not, as the freestyle doesn’t count towards any team scores. In my usual stubborn way I decided I wanted to do the test. In hindsight, it was maybe too much for my body having had the blip earlier in the week. Sid was a pro and looked after me as I bobbled round the arena for fourth place!


    The last evening was filled with a team meal in a restaurant with a mad lady serving us! Apparently it’s the place they go to every year on the final evening and the food was delicious.

    The long trip home began early on Monday morning, although it felt like we had only just arrived — the whole experience went by in a flash.

    I’m hugely grateful to my owners — The Lady Joseph Trust, Henrietta Cheetham and Pammy and Charlie Hutton for their ongoing support as this journey would not be possible without them and the whole team at The Talland School of Equitation, my sponsors and the World Class support team.

    Continued below…

    I was extremely lucky to have the support of para dressage superstar Anne Dunham while I was out in Deauville. I rang her every day and went through my tests (I remembered it when I spoke to her!) and while I was riding each movement, I had her very experienced voice running through my head.

    Team selfie

    Home sweet home now for some rest, sunshine and a lot of washing! It’s not long until I go to Waregem with Abira where it’s his turn to shine the week of 17 April.

    “Don’t limit your challenges, challenge your limits”


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