Suzanna Hext’s road to recovery: road trips, hydrotherapy and a ‘fly in the ointment’

  • Suzanna Hext was competing at 2-star level eventing before an accident while riding a young horse at home in 2012 changed her life. After 177 days in hospital and 7 operations, Suzanna has recently swapped her wheelchair for crutches and is looking forwards to getting back on a horse as well as eventually learning to walk again.

    I’ve been totally overwhelmed by the response and the comments left by people after my first blog. Hearing similar stories is extremely comforting and knowing that you’ve gained a great proportion of your life back gives me a massive boost. All your comments mean the absolute world to me, so thank you very much.

    Over the past few weeks I feel as if I have been on a long and never ending helter-skelter ride of emotions.

    Regaining my independence ­­— getting up on crutches and driving an automatic car — just a few weeks ago was a huge step forward, mentally and physically. I quickly made up for lost time, making trips to Devon, Somerset and Gloucestershire to see everyone. I managed to visit my great friend and dressage trainer Pammy Hutton, for a cup of tea. It was so lovely to catch up after such a long time and we also discussed my route to competing in para dressage.

    My first time back behind the wheel

    My first time back behind the wheel

    During my visit to Gloucestershire, I also had a great meeting with B&W Equine Vets about my eventual return to work. They have been extremely supportive and I couldn’t have wished to be looked after any better. I had a fantastic time visiting so many friends that have been incredibly good to me over this testing time. I also have many more friends I am planning to visit. I was quite emotional as I was driving home. I felt like I could have stayed up there forever!

    Busy weeks and disappointing news

    Having my weeks jam packed as they are at the moment, helps to keep me sane. I tend to have physio twice a week and hydro once a week. I also generally have the odd hospital appointment to attend.

    Last week put a little “fly in the ointment”. Sadly, I have got another operation on the horizon, although this one is on my left shoulder. It’s all stemming from my initial accident (however, I was hoping to be able to stave it off for a while longer). This is unfortunately going to set me back a while and means I am going to be back in a wheelchair for 10 weeks, before I can “kick on” and get back on my crutches. This does not mean my physio is going to grind to a halt though as my physios have other ideas.

    This week I am going to introduce you to my hydro team, Sue and Tracy. They both play a fundamental role helping with my rehabilitation and making steps towards my ultimate goals of getting back on a horse and learning to walk again. They are both fantastic at “thinking outside the box”, in terms of making the exercises both fun and effective.

    I find hydro extremely therapeutic. It’s great having the weightless effect of the water, whilst you are actively doing exercises to work different areas of the body. It’s a shame I can’t sit on the saddle in the pool as well.

    Me and my hydro xxxx

    Working in the pool with Sue

    I know I will come through this difficult time in my life, I will be a stronger person in the end and this experience has certainly changed my perspective. In hospital you realise there is always someone worse off than you, whether it’s the injury, illness or the lack of support they have around them. I have certainly been lucky enough to meet some truly inspirational people since my accident.

    Tough decisions

    Horses are part of what keeps me going and keeps me fighting to get back a part of my life that I am so passionate about. However, I have to be realistic about which of my 5 horses I keep for the future. This is something I find difficult to come to terms with, as the type of horse that I love (thoroughbred highly-strung event horses) is not necessarily the type of horse I will be riding in the near future. Over the next few weeks I will be making some decisions and acting upon them…

    Me and xxx

    Woody (Fine Line) and me in the field

    To follow…

    Next time I will introduce you to another member of my team and I will also report back from an exciting trip in the lorry to Ballindenisk, with Lucy Wiegersma, Padraig McCarthy and head groom Gemma Fuller. Lucy is campaigning Mr Chunky in the Nations Cup team, so fingers crossed for a good run… I am hoping to come back covered with the illustrious perfume of “eau de cheval” all over me. You can’t beat it!!

    Watching the Grand National in my saddle

    Watching the Grand National in my saddle

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