British para gold medallist Suzanna Hext is aiming for the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics, but in swimming instead of dressage.
The 31-year old Hext has been competing two horses - Abira and LJT Enggaards Solitaire - in Grade II classes at CPEDI' all over Europe.
She won triple gold at the 2017 European Para Championships with the now 20-year old Danish bred Bavarian mare Abira (by Don Perignon x Dolomit).
Despite an active campaign on the 15-year old Danish warmblood LJT Enggaards Solitaire (by Blue Hors Soprano) in 2018 and 2019, Hext was not selected for the 2018 World Equestrian Games or 2019 Europeans. Solitaire was previously competed by world and European team gold medallist Ricky Balshaw.
She has now made the decision to put dressage on the back burner for 2020 and focus on her debut as a paralympic swimmer.
“This has been a hard decision as riding is my life," Hext told Horse & Hound. "I talked it through with my family and both my equestrian and swimming teams, who have been very supportive, and it feels like the right thing for me at the moment, as I have had a slight lull in horsepower anyway,” said Suzanna, whose top horse, LJT Enggaards Solitaire (Sid), has returned to his owners, Henrietta Cheetham and the Lady Joseph Trust.
“I am keeping my ears open for a new ride and my aim is to come back for the 2021 Europeans," said Hext. "I am still riding whenever I can at Talland — Pammy Hutton and the team there are a massive support to me,” said Suzanna, a former two-star eventer who suffered a life-changing riding accident in 2012. “But in the meantime this is a massive opportunity for me with British Swimming, which has been very supportive.”
Hext took up competitive para swimming in 2019 and won silver and bronze at the 2019 World Para Swimming Championships.
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Photo © Dirk Caremans