Some wonderful news – and images – from Para Dressage Rider, Mari Akhurst. Mari and Athene make a star team and have had a fantastic competition at The Nationals in Somerford, winning Grade 1 Gold National Champions and gaining the highest para score of all the classes.
This is an incredible achievement and the icing on the cake for this relatively new team. Mari’s no stranger to success and previously had an excellent partnership with Sky O’Hara. Sky, still fighting fit and enjoying his competitions was considered too old to compete at the highest levels and is now enjoying his retirement, so her young horse, Bear, was groomed to follow in his hoofsteps! Sadly, while they achieved good results, the judges didn’t take the giant Bear to their hearts and Mari’s progress to the top and to her dream of competing for her country at the next Paralympics reached a plateau. She was then offered the ride on Diane Redfern’s beautiful mare, Athene Lindebjerg, and the pair bonded, forming the great partnership they are now.
DBF Ambassador, Mari, was feeling well below her best at The Nationals and it’s a mark of the understanding between horse and rider that they still performed so well. The result is even more remarkable as gutsy Mari had just come out of a 2 week stay in hospital where she was battling an infection. Respect, Mari, you are a hero!
When you see the pictures of them in action, there’s no doubt that Mari and Athene make a star team. They look wonderful together and it will be exciting to see how far their partnership can take them.
What a day; Athene was incredible and looked after an extra wobbly pilot. I’m so proud of myself and my team for getting me to the Nationals! Mari Durward1Akhurst, Para Dressage Rider
Links (will open in new tabs):
- Mari’s Facebook Page where you can see the Horse & Hound article about her amazing achievement
- Posts about Mari in the Bader Grants Recipients section of the website