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Mari’s Double Success!

Mari's double success

DBF Grant Recipient and Ambassador, Mari Akhurst, now has the dilemma of excelling at 2 very different sports! Mari’s double success came as the result of discovering an aptitude for rowing as well as riding…

Mari, a Para Dressage Rider, competes at Grade 1, the most impaired, level. She was doing really well at her sport and just missed being selected to join the British Team last year when her long-term equine partner, Sky O’Hara, with whom she had had numerous successes and great accolades from various judges, was retired. (Apparently he’s thoroughly enjoying his retired status and Mari and her family are regular visitors!) Sadly the judges didn’t take to Mari’s young horse, Bear, so well despite the fact that he seemed to be coming on beautifully under Mari and her team’s gentle and knowledgeable guidance. She was fortunate to find a new horse, Damo, who has advanced in leaps and bounds. They now form a formidable team and have been getting some fantastic results, most recently being awarded National joint Grade 1 Gold National Champion – a huge achievement for Mari in a relatively new partnership and taking place in a very busy atmosphere with loose horses thrown in for good measure! A big test for a young horse. This result means that Mari and Damo end the year as winter National Champions, Gold Semi Final Winners and now Gold National Champions. Huge congratulations to Mari and Damo on this amazing set of results. What a wonderful way to end the season.

You can see a video below of Mari and Damo dancing their way through their test to become Gold National Champions.

However, it doesn’t stop there…Mari, who has Cerebral Palsy and one-sided weakness (see previous posts via the link below this one for more information) was experiencing a worsening of some of her symptoms and also increasing weakness. She decided in true Mari style (she has fighting spirit in abundance!) that far from giving up, she would find a way to work on and improve the core strength that is so important for riding. Never one to take the easy option, she took up rowing! (Link to post at a the bottom of this page.) Not only did this incredibly tiring sport produce great results in increasing her core strength as she’d hoped, but it very quickly became apparent that she had a huge aptitude for it! She began practicing seriously in Spitfire, the boat provided for Marlow Rowing Club via the DBF Grant Scheme and, on the advice of the wonderfully supportive Para Rowing Team at Marlow, was soon successfully partnering Spitfire in competitions and may have done enough to get selected to represent Team GB in Para Rowing as well…

You can see Mari in action with the aptly named Spitfire through the Instagram link below:

Mari’s double success means that she must now wait to see if she makes the rowing team and if she is selected to represent GB in Para Dressage next year. Both decisions will impact on where and how she progresses from here and both will bring their own rewards and challenges.

We are so proud of Mari whose positive and indomitable attitude is an absolute inspiration.

More to follow shortly – keep watching this space!


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