Mari Durward-Akhurst

Rider Profile

Mari Durward-Akhurst
Competition Grade:

Mari has cerebral palsy, a chromosome disorder, ataxia and dystonia. When she was younger, Mari found that her disability made it hard to make friends and she was bullied a lot. However, horse riding changed everything – it was something she could do, which helped her physically and mentally, and most of all she could excel in it where she couldn’t in other activities. Being able to develop a fantastic partnership with her horse inspired Mari to persist with riding, and horses have given her the freedom that she doesn't have in a wheelchair.

She started riding at her local Riding for the Disabled Centre after her physiotherapist suggested it as a form of therapy. She won her first Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) competition at 11 years old, and qualified for the RDA National Championships the following year. She was then talent-spotted at a local para competition and went on to represent Great Britain at Junior and Young Rider level, and in 2016 she won the Grade 3 Restricted Winter Championships.

Mari's riding journey has been full of ups and downs. Deterioration in her condition meant that she was competing in the wrong grade for a long time, and her performances were going downhill. Being regraded was a huge positive change in her career. After her reclassification in 2016, Mari went onto become Grade 1 Silver Champion, Grade 1 Gold Champion for two years and win the Hartpury 3* International, and was selected to represent Great Britain at Waragem CPEDI3*, where she finished third in the freestyle. She is trained by Rob Waine. 

Mari's favourite memory of her riding journey so far is being presented with a team silver medal at the European Championships in 2019.

Sporting Achievements

Date Event Horse Medals
2019 European Championships Sky O'Hara Team silver