Some Great News From Mari!


Mari and Bear shortly after the start of their wonderful partnership in 2014
Mari and Bear in 2014 at the first year of their wonderful partnership. (Image courtesy Paul Ruffle Photography)

We’ve received some excellent news from our lovely new Ambassador and erstwhile Bader Grant Recipient of the Month, para-dressage rider Mari Akhurst.

Mari who has been digging deep into reserves of strength and determination recently when the worsening of some of her symptoms threw up some new challenges for her including the recommendation of a wheelchair (*still waiting for a name, all you creative folk out there!) to enable her to retain maximum independence. True to form, Mari has displayed huge courage to carry on with her training and practice and now her refusal to be beaten has been rewarded handsomely.

When people tell me I won’t be able to do something I like to prove them wrong. Mari Akhurst

This very talented dressage rider, whose goal has long been to represent Team GB in the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics,  was thrilled to be selected, against all odds, with 4-legged teammate Sky to represent GB abroad at Waregem CPED13* in Belgium in April.

As she says, this will be a big step on her campaign journey towards the Para Europeans. While Sky is currently getting the rewards, it clearly won’t be long before Mari’s very handsome young horse, Bear, will be hot on his hoofsteps. Mari’s hard work and training with Bear are really beginning to pay off now and his enormous and undoubted potential is finally being recognised. It all bodes very well for the future.

As precursor to this news, Team Mari and Sky had pulled off great performances in the Winter Para Dressage Gold Championships at Myerscough, Lancashire, returning at the end of February. You can read her report below.

Update from the Winter Para Dressage Gold Championships: 

We arrived back from the Winter Para Dressage Gold Championships late last night; a very long weekend!!

The first day we took the win and topped the class with a 70%+ score; lots of point towards the Gold Semi Finals.

In the championship test the judge at E gave us a score of 70% and had us in the lead by several marks. For me this is a pretty big achievement as being on the side they can pick up on a lot more things that the C judge cannot see. Sadly the C judge had other ideas and only gave us 66% which pulled our score down massively. So I finished 3rd less than .5 behind 2nd; the top 3 were very close!!

I am incredibly proud of my superstar pony who strutted his stuff and had his best dancing shoes on all weekend!! You can see from the videos how good he looked!! I cannot thank everyone enough who has supported me this weekend. I am really looking forward to the year ahead with my superstars .

(Mari Akhurst)

Links and more:

Mari’s Facebook Page where you can see photos, updates and the videos Mari mentions of Sky and Mari in partnership and looking £1 million and deserving of their high marks!

Mari’s Fundraising Page: To help to raise funds for what promises to be an expensive year – keeping horses isn’t cheap, especially at competition level, Mari has started a new Fundraising Page:

Inspirational Speaking: Mari is going to be available to do inspirational speaking, I have no doubt she’ll be very good at it – details to follow in a new post…

* Wheelchair: Please contact Mari or respond to this post and we’ll pass it on if you can think of a name for her new wheelchair!