Suzanna Hext’s road to recovery: ‘You hold the pen — write your story’

  • Throughout life being influenced and inspired by people, places and memorable events, helps us to carve out our paths and our future ahead.

    In my last blog I touched on the subject of being inspired by certain people and how they have not only helped me in the past few years, but in my riding career and daily life so far. You could alternatively call these people role models.

    This subject is particularly poignant as, not only mine, but fellow rider’s equestrian legend, font of all knowledge Caroline Creighton recently passed away after a battle with cancer.

    I was lucky enough to be touched by Caroline’s genius ways having spent a number of years being trained by her while I was working at Lucy Wiegersma’s.

    Caroline leaves behind a legacy of expertise that she has passed on to hundreds of people. Not

    With Abira

    With Abira

    only that, but her fighting spirit in the face of adversity. She was an extraordinary woman who never asked for anything in return for her constant kindness and help. A lot of people could learn something from this and her zest for life.

    So where am I going with this? I guess I am trying to open everyone’s eyes to the people surrounding them. Lap up knowledge and identify the way different people come through life-changing events (success or tragedy) and adapt. Never think you’re better than someone else — we can all learn from each other. Take a moment to listen to other’s stories, ask questions and draw from them. Respect each other and be inspired.

    Opportunities will come your way when you least expect it but you need to allow this to happen. Drawing from others and presenting your attitude and demeanour in such a way will influence this happening.

    We are all guilty in life of being caught up in our own cycle that’s easy and doesn’t necessary challenge us from day to day. Sometimes we need to step outside of our comfort zone to move forward and achieve our chosen goals, whatever that may be.

    Recently, at a BEF Excel Talent induction day we had an incredible talk from Jim Lawless. One of his stand out comments was: “Decision, action, result”. This to me sums up the way we should go about life. I can highly recommend his book ‘Taming Tigers’ to absolutely anyone. He completely blew all of us away. He wasn’t saying anything’s possible, as it clearly isn’t. I’m not going to be able to run a 1500m athletics race ever again. However, a lot more is actually achievable.

    His mantra is that life is about ‘taming the tiger’ (the tiger being the voices in your head) that is stopping you from challenging yourself, shaking someone’s hand and stepping outside your comfort zone. He has 10 rules to ‘tame the tiger’.

    Asking for help or an opinion doesn’t make you a weaker person. Quite the opposite. Accepting help and relinquishing knowledge, helps you to improve and succeed in all walks of life.

    Unforgettable few weeks

    The past few weeks have been unforgettable and they have given me so much excitement and determination for the future.

    Schooling with Maria

    Schooling with Maria

    I have been hugely inspired by a number of people recently and I have also made some great new friends.

    Firstly, I have managed to be placed 59th on the FEI world paralympic rankings in my first year of competing in para classes. This is something I never could have imagined happening at the start of the year.

    I had a very successful week away at my last international of the season at Bury Farm.

    My friend Ruth, who I work with at the vets came and helped me. I don’t think she clearly knew what she was letting herself in for — grooming, generator master, wheelchair and scooter lifter, the list goes on. Especially in the torrential rain! Even if Ruth did get her comeback by nearly placing me on the ground a couple of times and hitting rocks while I was in the chair — she tells me this wasn’t on purpose!

    I did mention to Ruth that she would need to trot-up on my behalf, which she is very au fait with doing at the vets. However, I didn’t fully explain the build up to this process being a slightly tense and nerve-wracking one, even if you know your horse is fine! Needless to say, all was fine and Abira flew through the trot-up and Ruth breathed a sigh of relief!

    Pammy and Charlie Hutton’s Abira was on super form; we came third overall from the combined results of the team and individual test and he then danced his way to third in the freestyle. Wow, he lights up as soon as the music comes on, the louder the better! It was the perfect end to what has been a fantastic first para season.

    The support has been phenomenal and I absolutely love the team spirit.

    Competing with Abira at Bury Farm

    Competing with Abira at Bury Farm

    The day after I got back from Bury Farm, it was a quick sort out and dash down to Devon for Lucy Wiegersma and Padraig McCarthy’s wedding. It was a stunning occasion and lovely to catch up with so many great friends. Let’s just say I am definitely starting to refine my freestyle dance moves on crutches! (Or at least in my eyes I am!)

    The following week I had my first BEF Excel Talent squad training camp. I had two

    Working on the physio ball with Fiona

    Working on the physio ball with Fiona

    unbelievable days of solid instruction, from training with Maria Eilberg, to pliance testing, physio, strength and conditioning, sports psychologist guidance, and veterinary, farriery and saddlery help, all of whom worked as a team to make their overall assessments.

    The pliance testing with Russell from Centaur Biomechanics was extremely interesting. It turns out I am moving in an S motion to compensate for my disability and weaknesses. This was videoed and then shown in slow motion up close! We wore visualise tops, which have lines on to show exactly how you are moving. These areas were then worked on in the physio and strength and conditioning session with Fiona and Adela.

    Tiggy (Lucy Wiegersma’s former head groom) took me, which was great fun. I was absolutely buzzing. They’ve given me lots of areas to work on over the coming months which is all very exciting.


    An inspiration is just one of a number of words to describe Hannah Francis, a young event rider suffering from cancer. I had the pleasure of meeting Hannah at Talland the other day while she had a lesson with Pippa on dressage schoolmaster Tommy.

    What an incredibly brave and determined young lady. Anyone who doesn’t know who I am talking about needs to have a read of her blogs (//www.willberrywonderpony.com/) then take a moment to think about what you really want to do in life and ask yourself, what’s stopping you?

    You truly never know what’s around the corner, make the most of every opportunity, or path you have ahead. As Jim Lawless said: “You hold the pen — write your story.”


    “Don’t call it a dream, call it a plan”

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