Suzanna Hext’s road to recovery blog: Paraberry takes over

  • Blimey it’s been a busy few weeks from travelling to Belgium for an exciting competition, to partying and spending time with my other Willberry Wonder Pony friends and trucking here there and everywhere!

    I certainly feel like I’ve come back down to earth now, and apparently we’ve got time to regroup before our next tranche of adventures.

    I’m ‘Paraberry’ by the way and I’ve been summoned to write the latest instalment of Suz’s blog.

    So, what’s the latest and where have Suz and I been? My first outing as part of the ‘Berry’ gang was to the Petplan Equine Area Festival Championships at Hartpury.

    This was Suz’s first able bodied championships and a huge milestone.

    Amo was slightly over enthusiastic about the occasion and this lead to a couple of spooks which was a shame. However, gaining 65% at the first of hopefully many able bodied championships at advanced medium level was a huge achievement.


    Amo at the National Championships

    It was then the countdown to Belgium for the CPEDI*** in Waregem, with a lot of organising and logistics to sort.

    Suz was like a Jack in the box with excitement. However, as soon as we set off in the lorry for Dover I took over as co-driver to groom Tiggy. The drowsy one (Suz) slept almost the whole way out to Belgium which was impressive to say the least!

    We arrived on the Tuesday afternoon where the horses were settled in to their stables and walked out to grass later in the day. At this point Abira decided that he was less than impressed by the trotters on the racetrack next to the grazing field!

    Abira with Tiggy looking at the trotters!

    Abira with Tiggy looking at the trotters!

    The atmosphere from day one was one of team spirit and everyone working together to help everything run smoothly and gain optimum results.

    Suz even managed to continue prepping meals in the comfort of the lorry. Needless to say I hope Tiggy was slightly impressed by her improvement in the culinary department, thanks to the BEF Excel Talent Programme. That nickname Suz gained of Hobby (because she couldn’t work the hob) at Oaksey House a couple of years ago is definitely not the case anymore.

    On the Wednesday and Thursday Abira had training sessions with David Hamer and Abira was feeling on great form. The trot-up was on the Thursday afternoon and all the British horses flew through looking very well.

    Paraberry with me on his first outing

    Paraberry with me on his first outing

    The first test, the team test, was on the Friday. As Abira entered the arena he went up a level, obviously deciding it was an important competition and that he needed to point his toes and show off.

    The scores came through on a live stream for everyone to see while the tests were being performed. Gaining 69%+ and third place behind fellow Brits Natasha and Erin was a fantastic start.

    Abira then continued on to get 68%+ in the individual test for third place again on day two. On day three Abira knew the drill; dancing time! He flew into trot as soon as the music came on like a man on a mission to get 76%+ for second place behind Natasha in the freestyle.

    Abira in Belgium

    Abira in Belgium

    As part of the integral support team I oversaw the whole competition. Most of the time I was sat outside Abira’s stable as a mascot (I’d say I did a pretty good job), also taking in the atmosphere and keeping my eyes peeled for the likes of the legendary Lee Pearson.

    Huge thanks must go to Tiggy Fuller, David Hamer, Sarah Armstrong, Karen, the whole of team GBR and Waregem for an incredible competition. Also, a huge thank you to Pammy and Charlie Hutton and Talland School of Equitation.

    Thankfully Suz didn’t sleep the whole way home as she was far too over excited about the week’s events! I was off duty and managed to put my legs up.

    Hannah’s 18th and a non-stop catch up

    My fellow ‘Berry’s’ were out in force at Hannah Francis’ 18th birthday party recently. The king of the gang Willberry was there overseeing us — no misbehaving!

    With my fellow 'Berrys'

    With my fellow ‘Berrys’

    There was a huge turnout, which is certainly not surprising, as Hannah has inspired and touched so many people. Her journey is one you couldn’t comprehend and how she battles through with such bravery and determination, with a smile on her face is unbelievable. #kickingcancersbutt

    Hannah Francis and myself at her 18th birthday party

    Hannah Francis and myself at her 18th birthday party

    The following week we went down to Hannah’s yard and went for a hack. Suz rode little Tommy and Hannah rode Mavis. They chatted non-stop. Willberry and I didn’t get a word in edgeways! Although, I did make sure we has a photo opportunity at the end, to prove I’d got to meet the famous Willberry.

    Me with Hannah Francis

    Me with Hannah Francis

    Badminton time of year again

    There were lots of responsibilities this year at Badminton, including setting up the vet area in the stables, catching up with Suz’s sponsors and helping in the B&W Equine vets tent by the lake. It also involved a lot of walking.

    It was a great few days and lovely to catch up with friends that haven’t been seen for a while. The event was a huge success, made even more enjoyable for everyone thanks to the stunning weather. How lucky after all the recent rain.

    With B&W Equine Vets at Badminton

    With B&W Equine Vets at Badminton

    The highlight for me was watching my fellow ‘Berry’ go round Badminton with Ben Hobday and Mulrys Error. They absolutely flew round in style and it meant so much to him and his incredible support team.

    Continued below…

    Read more from Suzanna:

    Exciting news for us ‘Berry’s’ that Hannah Francis has announced that ‘Hannah’s Willberry Wonder Pony’ has been approved as a registered charity.

    All funds raised will go towards bone cancer research and granting horsey wishes to those with serious illnesses, from meeting a horse for the first time to meeting your equestrian hero or visiting Badminton Horse Trials.

    For now my task of writing Suz’s blog is over, but I best get out there and continue to raise awareness of Hannah’s Willberry Wonder Pony.

    “It’s not who you are that holds you back, but who you think you are”


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