Suzanna Hext’s road to recovery: I can’t believe what has happened

  • It’s been one almighty year! I have so much news to reveal that I really don’t know where to start…

    In under a year since I’ve been back on board I’ve achieved so much. The minute I got back in the saddle at Lakefield Equestrian Centre on the 11 July 2014, my life started falling into place. This sounds quite corny, but it really did.

    I was finally looking forward to the future more than ever, after a tough couple of years struggling to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

    I always knew what my ultimate aims were, however low I got, which included getting back to work, riding and regaining my independence. Although never in my wildest dreams would I have counted on getting it all back in a year and even better being able to compete at my first International.

    I feel like I am back exactly where I belong, just a slightly adapted version of how my life was before!

    Happy tears

    I am not long back from competing at my first International at Hartpury (Hartpury Festival of Dressage CPEDI3*).

    The atmosphere was truly unbelievable. Even just entering the showground I knew it was going to be a moment to treasure.

    I was so over excited! It all started with sewing my Union Jack flags on while driving to Hartpury. This unfortunately wasn’t very successful and resulted in me having to re-sew the jacket flag on once I had calmed down and the lorry wasn’t in motion. Let’s just say my sewing skills are below average!

    On another note, my culinary skills have improved slightly since Oaksey House, where my nickname of Hobby was not my finest moment! I cooked in the lorry every night for Deborah and I, and I didn’t poison either of us!

    Having previously been an event rider and new to the sport, I had no idea I needed to do a sound check on my music. This involved making hand gestures in the middle of the arena to enable the commentary to know how loud you wanted it. I was very lucky that a fellow para rider pointed me in the right direction.

    My first test was the team test. Abira was great and I got a really good feel for being in the big indoor international arena with five judges. I finished my test and sat in the lorry to recover, I found myself shedding a few happy tears. I just couldn’t believe what had just happened.

    After my second and third test, the individual test and the freestyle (which we qualified to compete in) I just beamed from ear to ear (pictured top) lapping up the moment and enjoying the atmosphere.

    Abira hartpury30004

    Abira was just fantastic and we came fifth in each test. The standard was phenomenal and it was great to be up against the best in the world. I was over the moon to have come away with fifth.

    To top it off my mum watched me compete for the first time since my accident, which was particularly special. Understandably she was quite emotional after my freestyle test, along with my friends Trina and Suzie who were there too.

    It was also made particularly memorable as the whole Hutton family were competing at Hartpury.

    I was very lucky to have Anne Dunham help warm me up for my tests when Pammy was unable to. Anne is a font of all knowledge and I’m extremely privileged to have her helping me at some competitions. Everyone at Hartpury was extremely supportive and the organisation was very slick.

    I had Deborah helping me, Abira looked fantastic and we had a great time. I can’t thank the team at Talland enough for all their belief and support.

    New gear

    Abira Hickstead30001

    Hickstead para open championships began with a boost, as Equiboodle announced that they would be keen to sponsor me and help support me with my para ambitions, alongside B&W Equine Vets. Equiboodle kitted me out with a new jacket and various other items. I have had my previous jacket since I was 13-years-old and although I haven’t grown much, it was looking quite tired!

    This was the first time staying in the lorry overnight for a competition since my eventing days, and for this reason I was like a little kid as we set off with the lorry packed. I think between Pippa, Charlie (Pippa’s groom), Emma (helping me) and I we had enough crisps and food to sink a ship!

    We ended up coming thid in the para open championships, which I was dead chuffed with. He felt incredible (pictured above and below). However, this didn’t come without a last minute bridle change into a snaffle, from a double. I had never ridden him in a snaffle, so it was a bit of a risk, but Pammy knew it would work and I had every faith! Julia Andrews of Kate Negus Saddlery saved the day, providing a gorgeous bridle last minute to compete Abira in.

    Abira Hickstead30005

    Public speaking

    Last week I delivered my first talk on “My Road to Recovery.” It was organised by the Mid Devon Riding Club (MDRC), with the funds from the raffle and the entry going towards the MDRC and the Mark Davies Injured Riders Fund who helped make my inpatient stay at Oaksey possible.

    There was an unbelievable turnout, which I wasn’t sure whether to be happy about or not, taking into account I still had to get up and speak in front of all of them!

    After the first few minutes talking, I relaxed and absolutely loved the whole evening. I have now decided I would like to do more of them, something I never would have said a few years ago.


    The anniversary of my accident

    I’ve got even more major milestones to hit in the next few days. It’s going to be three years since my accident — a day I’d rather forget. However, this year I’m going to be chilling in Majorca with my great friend Sophie Stones.

    I’m sure there will be some interesting stories of my up and coming holiday in my next blog. I’ve also got my soon to be sister-in-law’s hen do looming and my next international at Bishop Burton on the horizon with Abira and Amo to report back from.

    Then it’s countdown to my brother’s wedding!

    “You achieve what you believe”


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