A para rider who has represented Britain was dragged from her wheelchair in an attack by a young thug outside her home.
Kyle Fenton, of Wiggenhall St Germans, was brandishing a wrench as he approached Susi Rogers-Hartley last August.
The 20-year-old was convicted of threatening behaviour, possession of an offensive weapon and assault. At Norwich Crown Court on 21 November, he was sentenced to a total of nine months in a young offenders’ institution, suspended for 18 months, and ordered to carry out 150 hours’ unpaid work.
“That’s all. I spoke to the Crown Prosecution Service and they said he’s suffering the consequences – but I’m serving a life sentence,” Susi told H&H.
“On top of my existing disability, I’ve now got to give up dressage and showjumping because of this. It’s been horrendous.”
Susi sustained a spinal injury during a training exercise in the Royal Navy 20 years ago. But despite the fact she is confined to a chair, she has since competed in showing, dressage and jumping, as well as hunting.
She had just returned from a riding display last August when the incident happened.
Susi said a young boy was riding a motorbike inconsiderately along the single-track lane on which she and her neighbours live, and that after she asked him to stop, Fenton arrived on the scene, carrying the wrench.
“He came for me, and instinctively, I grabbed it, to save getting my face bashed in,” Susi said. “He launched me out of my wheelchair and dragged me down the road.”
Susi, whose wheelchair was also damaged, suffered injuries including to her hands, which means she can no longer hold enough contact to be able to ride in dressage or showjumping.
“I can’t do this any more,” she said. “A physio told me this damage is permanent. I wear compression gloves to keep the swelling down and on a good day, can move my fingers but I can’t close my hand.
“I can’t hold my reins properly as any pressure causes so much pain, and my fingers poke out so they’d break going over a fence. And as any wheelchair user will tell you, your hands are absolutely everything. This man will never understand what he’s done.
“It’s taken me 20 years to get over the post-traumatic stress disorder from my original injury, and now this happens and I think, why do I carry on?”
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Susi is now riding western-style, as the reins can be held more loosely and she is more stable in a western saddle, and has been taking part on barrel racing on her mare Summer.
“It’s the end of an era, but it wasn’t my decision to end it,” she added.
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