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April and May Blog

April Blog

What a way to start the month; meeting my sponsors from Jeremy Rudge Saddlery. It was fantastic to meet Amy in person and I am very excited to say that I am trying out a new saddle for them.


The Free Motion Panel: it is self-levelling and adjusts with the horses back with every step; no wonder its incredible and the horses love it. Bear and Damo loved it from the first time it arrived on their backs. I have done a weekly diary; check out my Facebook page to find out exactly how me and the horses have got on in this amazing saddle.

All the horses have been going well in training and I am looking forward to getting them back into the white boards soon, as are they!!


Damo had his monthly massage and thoroughly enjoyed himself. Thanks Lee.


It’s now a week of trying the Free Motion Panel and all I can say is the saddle is truly incredible. I love it and so do the horses! The benefits have been huge.


I am now available as a public speaker if you would like to book me, please contact me. I have lots of experience and would love to share my story and to inspire others to follow their dreams. I am a European Silver Medalist and firmly have my eyes set on selection for the Paris 2024 Paralympics. I also have a National title and World record in Para Rowing.


Fantastic afternoon yesterday meeting Yasmina and her family. It was also great to see Jo the Para rep for our area. The horses really enjoyed meeting everyone and showing off. We both have a degenerative form of Ataxia so I was able to share my story with her and her family. Yasmina has some big aspirations I am very excited to be part of her journey as I am now mentoring her. Giving something back is very important to me from my RDA days to making the podium. Helping others on their journey to future success. Head over to my Instagram page link below to see a fantastic reel that Yasmina put together about the day and photos.


I posted on my Instagram page https://www.instagram.com/mdaparadressage/ some video of my wonderful standing frame. Mine is electric so I just push a button and up and down we go. It takes me a while to get in and out, but I am independent which I love. I love the freedom it gives me; having lost the ability to walk in 2019 and shortly after the ability to stand unaided; it’s great to be able to stand up again!


Super excited to say I am being supported by the EA Sporting Champions scheme for another year at the Everyone Active Chiltern Lifestyle Centre.


We took Damo to Wellington to get some more points towards qualification for the Gold Semi Finals in June. A super relaxed pony and an accurate pilot; 74.38% in the Grand Prix Test A and 73.75% in Grand Prix test B; giving us the two highest para scores of the day.


May Blog

The month started with a visit from Lee to see Damo before we left for Hickstead CPEDI3*. Damo thoroughly enjoyed his massage, and it was great to hear how good he felt.


We headed off to Hickstead CPEDI3*; we had a fantastic time, and I was so proud of Damo as he was super relaxed and in a very atmospheric arena, he didn’t put a hoof out of place! We tried out a few things and sadly we made a few mistakes which were very costly. But amongst the 4’s and 5’s we had several 7.5s and 8’s so just to nail out the lower marks and I am sure our scores will be on the rise.


Hickstead results:

Grand Prix test A (so close to 3rd but had a mistake on a double coefficient movement)

Grand Prix Test B 3rd

Grand Prix Freestyle 2nd (first time riding through the new floor plan).


My mentees have had a fantastic month. First up Chloe came 1st at the RDA Regionals and has qualified for the RDA Nationals. She then went and won the gold medal in the Dressage Anywhere Championship Show Grade 1 with 74.76%. A huge score and so well deserved. Chloe works so hard and does everything with a smile on her face. A huge well done to Chloe, Cody and her amazing team.


Next up was Yasmina who competed at a different RDA Regionals and came 2nd which means she has qualified for the RDA Nationals also at Grade 1. A huge well done to Yasmina and her team. Best of luck to Chloe and Yasmina at the RDA Nationals.


Mr Bear has been going brilliantly in training and is looking fantastic with his summer coat thanks to PharmaQuin and PharmaTRAC.


I got the exciting news that I have qualified both Athene and Damo for the Gold Semi Finals next month. A huge thank you to everyone that supports us.


We took Di Redfern’s Athene to a competition at Onley Grounds, our third competition together, we scored 78.33% in Grand Prix test A and for our first run through of the Grand Prix Freestyle we scored 76.83%. Athene is such a superstar and she felt fantastic. There are many more marks to come as we develop our partnership together. Thank you so much to Di and South Bucks RDA; plus, my amazing trainer Rob and my superstar parents and everyone else that supports us.


I had the best day visiting my sponsors Jeremy Rudge at their workshop in Walsall. It was fantastic to see the workshop; to meet Jeremy and to catch up with Amy. The workshop is amazing and it was fascinating learning how they make the saddles from scratch. All individual; made by hand! Incredible experience. We went to see if my solid hand hold could be put into the Free Motion panel saddle, mission accomplished. A huge thank you to Amy and Jeremy for our wonderful day visit.


The boys have been going fantastically in the saddle they love it as do I. The position the saddle places me in means I can get the best out of both horses but also be fully supported at the same time. Head over to my Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/MariDurwardAkhurstParaDressage to see photos of my visit to the workshop and photos and videos of the boys in action with this fantastic saddle.


I am very excited to say that my amazing sponsors BETTA LIFE are supporting Athene with PharmaQuin as well.


Lee came out to give me a Sports Massage which was much needed as I was very tight. Thanks Lee and for your continued support.

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