Exciting News from Previous Bader Grant Recipient of the Month, Mari Akhurst…

It was a treat as always to hear from our lovely ex-LBGRotM, para-dressage rider, Mari Akhurst, with a very exciting update. Mari, who was born with cerebral palsy, is getting ever closer to achieving her goal of representing Team GB in para-dressage in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Mari had a great competition recently in partnership with her young horse, Bear. They needed to get the remaining points required to qualify for the Gold Semi Finals, something Mari has already achieved with her more experienced horse, Sky.  Mari was over the moon to get a personal best in the team test of over 70%. It shows that all her hard work with Bear is paying off and what is particularly encouraging is that Mari, not given to resting on her laurels, knows that there is even more to come from this very handsome young horse. In the individual test they got just over 67%, which would have been better if Bear hadn’t been annoyed by his plaits falling out! Still, that didn’t matter as Mari and Bear got their requisite 3 points meaning that Bear has qualified along with Sky. A huge achievement and so well-deserved especially as Mari has been having to deal with the worsening of some of her symptoms lately. 

The downside of qualifying both horses is that Mari now faces the logistical nightmare of taking both to the finals while, in the interest of their concentration, not letting either horse know that their companion is also there! 

Below you can read Mari’s entry on here Facebook Page, a link to which will be found at the bottom of this post. You will also be able to see a video of Mari and Bear in action and take a look at some previous posts which will tell you more about this incredibly positive, determined and hugely talented young rider. Mari is an inspiration and we are so happy to have been able to help her on her quest for a 2020 Gold Medal!


“So proud of this one today and my whole team. Our hard work is starting to pay off and our marks and scores are on the rise 😀

Todays goal was to get the points we needed and to have two confident rides, for Bear to travel well and settle. He was an absolute superstar and didn’t put a foot wrong! So relaxed and settled and I was 100% confident. It’s taken a while but think I have found my confidence and so has Bear. He was such a dude today 😀 Everyone commented on how handsome he was!

We survived our solo trip Dad was super groom and mum rode Bear they both looked super and then was also groom and caller! Super woman!

Absolutely smashed it today over 70% in team test and 67%+ in individual with some head shaking due to his plaits falling out so that pulled our marks down.

As I went around the outside of the arena I said to mum its Turbo Bear and went around my test with a big smile on my face! To get what we have done at home in the competition arena is super and now we just need to build on it.

It was a hot one today and my body did have a a meltdown at the end of both of my tests. Slight issue in warm up when I couldn’t see out of my left eye but nothing to worry about just put my trust in Bear and mum and we didn’t crash!! But thankfully it behaved during the test well sort of; Bear just ignored it and strutted his stuff anyway.

One very happy and knackered rider tonight!!”

Mari Akhurst

Please click on the link to see a video of Mari and Bear in their test:

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