Suzanna Hext’s road to recovery: Going solo

  • I’m finally completely settled in up in Congresbury in Gloucestershire — which is where I’ve moved to so that I can work at B&W equine vets.

    I am even beginning to be recognised in places such as Tesco and the fuel station just down the road. Of course it is not for any other reason other than they see me on a regular basis either losing the basket off the end of my crutch (I haven’t actually dropped anything yet) or balancing and trying to fuel up my car on the way back from work!

    Breaking my body back into a social life has come as a bit of a shock to the system. For my friends there is the obvious disadvantage of taking me anywhere, as I definitely slow them down which isn’t great in the rain!

    I would say the advantages could outweigh the disadvantages though, as they get to park close to wherever we are trying to get to thanks to disabled parking — this was particularly helpful at the Your Horse Live event recently. We also managed to take a short cut through a massive queue and get great seats — they definitely weren’t complaining then.

    Any trips out with me produce endless stories, which I don’t think will ever be forgotten in a hurry. The latest escapade involved an escalator. Needless to say this is something I will never ever be attempting again and probably shouldn’t have been attempted in the first place!

    Georgie Thomas (my housemate) and I went for a shopping trip. I decided that I could go down the escalator (partly because to get to the lift I had to walk miles). Let’s just say it wasn’t the smoothest ride, and I certainly caused a queue at the top as I was dithering as to whether I could do it or not. I felt as if I was going to do the splits with my crutches in front of me and legs behind — not a good idea. I would have loved to have seen the facial expressions of the people behind me! Georgie just held on to me for dear life.

    Unbelievable feeling

    After my last blog I started riding a beautiful mare called Amo (pictured top). I feel as if we have a great connection already (I’ve only ridden her three times) and she has a massive character, which is what I think I love about her. She’s right up my street.

    The first time I got on Amo in my lesson with Pammy (Hutton), I think my smile grew out and out across my face as I started working her! Pammy recognised this straight away — she knows me too well.

    I had a fantastic lesson with Gerry (who also teaches at Talland) last week as Pammy was away. We really worked on my position and seat. Unfortunately, as I have been suffering with a cold/cough my spasms were worse than ever. Every time I cough my leg goes into spasm, which is not a particularly helpful. This was also the case when I visited Oaksey House the day before — my spasms up my left side were horrible.

    I have managed to tick another box off my list of aims and achievements — I rode on my own for the first time since my accident.

    I went up to Talland and rode Amo. She was a star and I had a great time getting a feel for her and learning what makes her tick. I did, however, have my great friend Lucy Dickenson there. She has got helping me get on down to a fine art and I can’t thank her enough for her endless help and support.

    I also may have been a little bit naughty and sat on an ex-event horse one boring weekend! Henry used to compete at three-star level and is Jade Lazenby’s. He was so well behaved, and it was such a fantastic feeling to ride outside.

    Jade also had me filling hay nets (it’s certainly that first time I’ve come back with hay in my boots for a long time!), and is now trying to come up with a genius plan that will allow me to lift a wheelbarrow and muck out — keep thinking Jade!

    Blowing away the cobwebs

    Work- Cassie and I SuzeI certainly feel as if I am getting to grips with the pharmacy at the vets and the cobwebs are being blown away after a long time off work. I still have lots to learn and every day that I come in I seem to be picking up on new pieces of information.

    Cassie Wood (pictured right) has been great at explaining how to perform certain jobs in pharmacy which has allowed my knowledge base to grow.

    At the end of each day I now feel as though I have accomplished various tasks with my brain, which is helping me sleep a lot better as my brain feels like it needs a rest. This is the first time in over two years I am actually sleeping better than ever.

    I would be lying if I said there weren’t some moments in the day when I feel frustrated, as I would love to be able to trot a horse up, lunge and help the vets for example. However, what I love about the vets is that it is a co-ordinated team effort and without the different departments, the system wouldn’t work quite so effectively.

    Rehab update

    The combination of going to Oaksey House every Monday or Tuesday, going to the gym at Cadbury House and swimming for the rest of the week seems to be working really well. I feel as though I am strengthening up and finding that some exercises are becoming easier, which has got to be a good sign.

    plank- oaksey suzeThe last couple of weeks I have been working with Nadia (neuro physio) at Oaksey House. She has been working on my core stability with various exercises using mat work. I find that these exercises can bring on some pretty strong spasms — it’s about trying to breathe and work through them which is something I find particularly difficult to do.

    We have been working on exercises such as the plank (pictured left) and press-ups, both of which I didn’t believe I could possibly do to start with, but I was wrong. Nadia holds my foot and I surprise myself! It was a great feeling achieving this, and knowing there is no reason I can’t do anything, you just simply have to adapt.

    We’ve also been working on getting more weight through the left foot, and trying to not allow it to turn over and spasm, as I bring myself up onto it. We did this using some bars which are along the wall in the gym. Gradually I had to work my hands up the bars higher and higher to try and stand whilst Nadia was trying to pin my left leg down at the same time.

    This exercise definitely needs more work, but was a great start. I did, however, look like a banana (or a quaver as Nadia calls it) bent to the right most of time.Treadmill- gym Suze

    I made a catastrophic error and told Sam Iles at Cadbury House gym that I could do the plank and press-ups now. He caught onto this straight away and he has been timing me and making things harder. I’ll learn to keep my mouth shut in future! It’s been great and I feel as if I am improving my overall fitness, which in turn is helping my riding.

    Sam has been helping me work on my upper-body strength, core stability, bike work and I’ve also been on the treadmill (pictured above). As I used to at Oaksey, Sam has been helping initiate the correct foot placement on the treadmill, and I think has only been scared by my crazy leg a couple of times when it’s started stamping the ground on its side! This help is invaluable and will ultimately help me progress.

    Home time

    I’m off home this weekend for the first time since I moved up here six weeks ago — how time flies. I feel ready for a bit of Cornish sea air and a visit to my incredible family and friends, but most importantly my little dog Tapi, who hasn’t moved up with me yet!


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