Home/Latest News, Sponsored Riders/July 2017 Update | Mari Akhurst

July 2017 Update | Mari Akhurst

July Blog

Day 1:
Super excited we are on our way to Hartpury College with two horseboxes and two horses! Hope we haven’t forgotten anything!! I am honoured to be representing GB and the boys cannot wait to strut their stuff; hope they have their dancing shoes on!
Before long we had arrived and before long I was on board Bear for the arena familiarisation closely followed by Sky. It went really well with both horses; they took everything in their strides.
It was time for the trot up both horses passed; Sky was an old pro and Bear did his very posh trot thankfully Rob managed to keep up with him just!
Once the horses had been tucked up in bed it was time to clean the tack, have our dinner and go to bed; ready for the first day of competition tomorrow.

Day 2:
We woke up early and fed the horses mum and dad mucked them out and gave them hay; while I did some gentle exercise and stretches. Then it was time for breakfast afterwards mum sewed the union jacks onto my numnahs and jacket.
I then went to watch some dressage and have a bite for lunch before looking at the arena and getting in the zone ready to ride my first test. Rob warmed Bear up and he looked super and nice and relaxed. Before long it was my turn to get on him he felt amazing and we were ready to go and do our thing. I can’t actually believe that I am riding Bear at his first ever international.
We were called to the holding arena (10-15 min arena before test) and so we practised lots of circles and making sure I really had Bear and he was listening to me. Into the arena we went the commentary was fantastic and I couldn’t wait to get started. The bell went and we began our test I was delighted with our performance. Bear was a really good boy and for our first ever International test it wasn’t bad.
Mum had already brought Sky down to the warm up arena and so Rob went straight up and got on Sky and then took Bear back to his stable and undressed him. It was time for me to get back into the zone this time mine and Sky’s zone. Sky knew he was at a big show and had risen to the occasion fantastically he was going brilliantly for Rob. I got on him and he felt super before long we were in the holding arena and then the bell went and down that centre line we went.
Sky was super and I was really pleased with our performance what we had been working on at home came together in the test; still areas to improve on but a big improvement. Just as we were leaving the arena Bears score was announced, I couldn’t quite believe it when the first score was over 73% and his final score was over 69%. We all left the arena with a massive smile on our faces!
We put Sky away and undressed him. It was then time to go and get a bite to eat, as I walked into the arena where Rob and dad were sitting they decided to play a game with me and tell me my score as my collectives which was obviously very low! To only turn round and say you have got 70%+ and come 2nd and this was to a triple Paralympic gold medallist. I was over the moon and Bear had finished in the top 6 I was absolutely chuffed to bits!!
There was no prize giving today so we sorted the boys out and then went to bed as we had another busy day tomorrow.

Day 3:
Started very similar to day 2 we had all slept well and were ready for another packed day. My body was feeling particularly tired but I was ready to ride both boys and hopefully perform as well as we did yesterday if not better.
The pressure was on to try and stay in the same place as yesterday and achieve similar scores.
Before long we were getting ready again for day two in the arena. It was Bear again first followed by Sky; we had slightly longer between each boy this time thankfully.
Bear warmed up really well again for Rob and I got on him and he felt good. I think just perhaps he could feel that I was tired and didn’t have much to give him. The bell went and we went down the centre line. The test was ok not as good as yesterday but I was very accurate. Sadly I think he had a fly or something annoying him as the contact was a bit varied which I knew would be very costly. No point dwelling on that after giving Bear lots of pats it was time to go and get Sky and for Rob to get on board and warm him up.
Again Sky went brilliantly for Rob and felt really good when I got on him. The bell went we had a few more mistakes today and he wasn’t as forward as yesterday but it was still a good test. I had a feeling the score would be lower but considering I was knackered and didn’t have much to give Sky we hadn’t done a bad job.
Rob and Dad went ahead to get a drink and have a bit to eat and later mum and me joined them. To walk in and told I had done it again and had come 2nd again to a tripe Paralympic gold medallist with just under 70% with Sky and not only that but for Bear to have got just under 67% and again finished in the top 6 was amazing!
It meant that I would be dancing to my music with Sky tomorrow as only the highest placed horse qualifies through.
It was time for prize giving so me and Quiny made our way to the International arena. It was great to be right next to my good friend Julie. They placed two the top 6 in each class, so I was the first one to be called up for Bears 6th place in the team test. Then I went up again for Sky’s 2nd place in the team test and received a nice pair of equilibrium bandages. We then had the prize giving for the individual test me and Julie had come joint 6th so we went up together which was really nice. I then went up for Sky’s 2nd and received a voucher from Sporting Hares.
It was then time for the music sound check which had a few blips but we finally listened to my music and adjusted the volume ready for tomorrow.
We then went out for dinner to the café above the arena with Julie and her team; we had a really nice meal. Sorted the boys out and then went to bed.

Day 4:
It was dancing day I was really looking forward to my music but also a little apprehensive as it was Bears music and I hadn’t really ridden it with Sky.
The Grade 1s were on earlier today so we didn’t have long before it was time to get ready but I did have a chance to look at the arena and practice my floor plan.
Rob wasn’t coming up today so mum had the job of warming Sky up. Sky went amazing for mum and felt fantastic when I got on him. He could hear the music of the previous competitor when he was in the holding arena and was happily dancing to it I knew we were going to ride a good test.
The bell went and the music started Sky felt incredible and did an amazing test, the music suited him perfectly. Such a shame I had a blonde moment and added in an extra 8m circle and so finished just behind my music. Otherwise it would have been perfect it was a costly mistake and one that I won’t make again. We still scored just under 72% our best ever freestyle score and again finished 2nd to a triple Paralympic gold medallist; only 3.5% away this time!
I cannot believe that I have finished the competition with three second places with Sky and two top 6 finishes with Bear. I cannot thank everyone enough who has supported me I couldn’t of done it without all of you.
After prize giving where I got another 2nd rosette and a radio; the competition was finished and it was time to head home after what had been a brilliant week. I still can’t believe how well we did I am on cloud nine!
This month I also found out some more exciting news announce I have been given a National Sports Aid Award. Massive thank you to South Bucks and Milton Keynes SportsAid Launch Club; the award will help greatly and help to cover the cost of my training and competitions this year.

I had my monthly visit to Performance Hertfordshire; my exercises have been progressed again which is great news and means that all my hard work has been paying off. My core is still strong which is great. My limbs haven’t been very well behaved at the minute; they have learnt a new trick which I am hoping will go away soon as it interferes with my riding! I really struggled trying out the new exercises and am now in a lot of pain but I am hoping that within a month I will be carrying out the exercises as well as the last lot.

The boys had a couple of days of after Hartpury a well-deserved break for them. My body now needs a break and so I will be taking a week off from riding and gym work to give my body a chance to recover. Look forward to updating you all next month when out winter qualifiers will have started. Let’s hope we get some more sun first! #TeamBETTALife

By | 2017-08-09T13:17:57+00:00 August 9th, 2017|Latest News, Sponsored Riders|0 Comments

Leave A Comment