Update from our Bader Grant Recipient of the month, Mari Durward-Akhurst. Mari was one of the first to receive one of our new Lady Bader Grants,  awards given in Joan Bader’s memory to help applicants to achieve goals that reflect her own interests and achievements. Mari, a great horsewoman with a genuine love of horses, and an ambition to represent Team GB in the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics Dressage Competition, couldn’t have been a more fitting candidate! 


Mari and Sky competing at a previous event

Yesterday me and Sky competed in our first ever Gold Para Winter Championships, we finished 4th with just under 67%. The C judge had us in 3rd. It was a miracle to be honest we were even there after everything that has happened recently. It was my first competition with my new trainer Rob Waine.

Sky put his best foot forward today and did an amazing test, so proud of him. It was so windy and we hadn’t had a chance to do the arena walk etc, and the door was banging. Which Sky ignored but elements of tension crept in and we had a few mistakes which were very costly.

Sadly I don’t like to make excuses but I am struggling a lot with pain and my body did not play ball today. My first centre line was amazing but after that my body took over but that didn’t stop Sky who carried on regardless. I was pleased just to stay on board but our steering failed slightly hence the few mistakes. But neither of us could have done anymore, well and truly exhausted!!

Massive thank you has to go to Rob Waine for stepping in to train me and coming to train me today; and doing a fantastic job even though he has only ridden Sky a few times! Glesni Owen Sky’s super owner for coming to cheer us on today. Mum and dad for just being amazing.

(Mari Durward-Akhurst)


Keeping horses and training and competing at Mari’s level is an expensive business. Mari is raising funds herself to meet these financial challenges. If you’d like to support her, please visit her GoFundMe Page where you can also learn more about this talented and truly inspiring young rider.