Mari Durward-Akhurst

Mari Durward-Akhurst

Mari Durward-Akhurst Mari Durward-Akhurst Mari Durward-Akhurst
Rider Mari Durward-Akhurst
D.O.B Unknown

Sky O'Hara

Mari Durward-Akhurst


I started riding with the RDA as a form of therapy. When I was about 11 years old, I competed at the RDA Nationals and was talent-spotted. I competed as a Grade III for a while, but then my condition got worse so I was reclassified to Grade I in 2016. Since then, I've won the Grade I Gold at the Nationals in 2017 and 2018, the Hartpury CPEDI Grade I in 2018 and this year I won the Hartpury CPEDI Grade I Freestyle with Sky O'Hara. I competed at Waregem this year – my first competition abroad – and finished fourth and third out of over 90 competitors from 21 countries. It was amazing to be able compete against some of the best riders in the world. 

I really look up to an Irish Grade I rider called Helen Kearney, who rode at the Olympic Game in London 2012. Since I've been reclassified as Grade I, she's been so supportive. 

Sky O'Hara, known as Sky, is on loan to me from Glesni Owen. Originally it was only supposed to be for a year, but seven years later he's still with us! He's a bit of a comedian to have around – he only likes certain people, loves Polos and is treated like royalty at home. At competitions, he just goes down the centre lines and performs – he loves it and knows that the bigger the occasion, the bigger he needs to perform. 

I'm starting to develop myself as a public speaker to help others achieve their dreams as I have. I've done a few Rotary Club talks and it's something I'd like to do more. I think it's really good to be able to share my story and support the young para-equestrian riders coming up through the sport. I also mentor a young rider who's coming out of RDA to compete at Bronze level in the same grade as me. The sport has grown massively since I started and it can be a bit daunting to be competing alongside big names such as Sophie Christiansen and Natasha Baker, unless there's someone there to support you. 

I'm an ambassador for two charities – the Douglas Barder Foundation and Arctic One. 



Sky O'Hara, a 20-year-old gelding owned by Glesni Owen