Previous Bader Grant Recipient of the Month and now DBF Ambassador, Mari Akhurst, Para Dressage Rider, has sent us this wonderfully positive report following competing in her first International abroad. We are delighted to hear that she and Sky O’Hara had such a successful inaugural International – their success coms after a huge amount of hard work, courage, commitment and determination and can only bode well for the future. Congratulations on a great performance, Mari.

Waragem CPEDI3*; what an incredible experience my first International abroad. It was a massive competition with 23 countries present and 92 riders competing. It was definitely the competition to be at!!

I could not be prouder of Sky who took everything in his stride; the ferry journey to the busy showground nothing fazed him. Sky loved competing on the big stage and rose to the occasion. He had a wonderful time and is looking forward to the next time already!

Without my team I would not have been able to achieve what we did in Waragem; I have the best team around me who all work together to support me and Sky.  A massive thank you to my amazing trainer Rob who came with us in the lorry and was fantastic all week.  I cannot thank all my supporters and sponsors enough.  Thank you to my parents and family for always being there and supporting me; my friends at home that watched the live stream and cheered us on. A special thank you to the The Anders Foundation who made this trip possible.

My class Grade 1 was a big class full of European, World Equestrian Games and Paralympic medalists and participants and those that have a lot more International experience than me and Sky. So just to be placed was an incredible achievement. It was unfortunate that we had the fly incident in the team test (losing us 15 marks but we still finished 7th with just under 70%). I had the 3rd highest individual score (71%+ 4th) and 2nd highest GB freestyle score. It was fantastic to see the GB flag on the board on the final day in the prize giving (Freestyle 72.967% 3rd); with one judge giving me 77%+ and two judges having me in 2nd.

I am delighted with my placings (at my first International abroad) but next time would like to be on the top spot, so between now and the next competition we are going to work even harder to find those extra marks (which we know are there). Sky’s way of going is very consistent now the pilot needs to work harder on her accuracy!!

Competing on the big stage was an eye opener and seeing the talent of horses and the walk of some of the Grade 1 horses! It is fantastic to know that me and Sky are now up with the best Grade 1 horses in the world and not only that but we were placed and beat some of them in the process.

Links: To find out more about Mari and her quest to compete at the very top in Para-Dressage, check out the following links which will open in new tabs: