Sharing the experiences with all on her website courtneykingdressage.com of her recovery from a brain injury suffered last March when a horse she was riding tripped and fell on her, United States Dressage team member Courtney King Dye has recounted her therapies, travels, and now her search for a horse to get her back into the ring. Back on a 22 year old therapy horse and in her own saddle which had been the one she rode in the Olympic Games, Courtney has been riding each Wednesday, and out on the trails. Training on a simulator has increased her balance and strength. Her barn and horses in training have been efficiently maintained by her head trainer Jennifer Marchand. Like most east coast high performance Dressage riders, Courtney is headed to Florida with all intentions of riding again. Courtney and her sponsor are looking for the horse she can do it with: ideally, an FEI schoolmaster, quiet and confirmed who will help her return to the show ring. Courtney knows she can ride again, but is realistic in her recovery regarding the partner who was to have been her premier World Equestrian Games and Olympic hopeful Hampton Green Farm’s PRE Stallion Grandioso.
“Kim Boyer, with my help, has decided to look for another rider for Grandioso.” Courtney told DressageDaily. “Although I hated losing him, I supported the decision because it's the right move business wise. He's in his prime now, and she can't just wait around for me to get better or ask someone else top to ride him, and give him back to me if I'm better right before the Olympic qualifications. I agree that just wouldn't be fair. But he'll come to me right after, and I have plenty of her young horses getting ready for me!”
And just as Courtney will be helping Kim to find the right rider for Grandioso, Boyer has joined another sponsor of Courtney’s on the search for the right mount for Courtney to lease so she can begin the process of getting back in the FEI arena. “In a perfect world I'd be showing Grand Prix by the end of the summer, but obviously that has a lot to do with my recovery as well as if I have the right horse to do it with. I might be a bit unrealistic about the time frame, but I plan to be able to ride in January. Maybe not the horses I have, they're being well ridden and I don't want to disrupt that, but we're looking for a Grand Prix horse to lease. Hopefully I'll be able to train and ride the horses I have in February, but we'll see. Right now I'm told I'm doing tremendously well by my neurologist, but I still need to be helped with things which require balance.”
United States Dressage team member Courtney King Dye has had a year of near tragedy and miracles. In the first days following her accident; when a horse she was riding fell on her by simply tripping during an easy session for a video tape, the news was grim. An injury to the brain left her in a deep coma for weeks. The mystery of her injury could not deliver any difinitive news. The equestrian world and the reach of the world beyond that scope prayed, chanted, lived with Courtney in constant thought and prayer while those closest to her, her husband Jason Dye, trainer and mentor Lendon Gray, family and close friends stood vigil as she began to emerge from her deep sleep and into the next level of recovery.
With courage, conviction and humor the drive which has been deeply imbedded into her spirit, the drive which made her one of the most beautiful, sensitive and talented riders in the world, Courtney’s love of her life, husband, and horses pulled her to her feet, with help and therapy, and a new level of intense training began. The body of a world class athlete and the determination and passion to return to the life she knows and loves has amazed her doctors and therapists, but not surprised those closest to her.
During the training sessions for the USET Dressage Team at Gladstone before the Alltech/FEI World Equestrian Games Courtney visited her teammates and then when on to Fruitport Michigan to visit Hampton Green Farm and her Grand Prix maestro PRE Stallion Grandioso, the horse who together with Courtney would have been a front runner for the team in 2010.
“Her visit was intended to be low-key and more of a show-and-tell than a formal clinic,” said Hampton Green Farm’s owner Kim Boyer, “but Courtney asked for the microphone during the first ride of one of our young horses and began to teach just as she has done so many times before at HGF.” Courtney’s reunion with Grandioso was a happy one as she coached Maria Lithander through all of the Grand Prix work. She was very happy to see that the horse had not lost anything in the time she has been off of him, and that he was relaxed and happy in all his work under the interim rider.
“Grandioso also appeared extremely pleased to see Courtney again--in a stallion kind of way--and we had to make sure that he didn't knock her off her feet with affection!” laughed Kim. Courtney also visited with some of the top quality young stock she had hand picked prior to her accident, and they were kept out of the auction and sale barn at Hampton Green, for Courtney’s return to the saddle, something Boyer never doubted would happen.
At the Alltech/FEI World Equestrian Games Courtney made the trip to Kentucky and rallied her teammates although still requiring assistance she did not miss a ride and told us how she was trembling watching Steffen Peters and Ravel’s team test. Courtney has not let up for an instant in her therapy and determination to continue in her recovery. Her honesty, humor, and realistic outlook on dealing with each day reflect the strength in not only her progress but in her character which has always been there as a respected teammate and world class member of the sport. While she cannot respond to all of the thousands of e-mails and posts she gets on her Facebook page, Courtney keeps up with her progress on her website with photos and detailed descriptions of her progress.
As for the positives which have come from her experience Courtney is very clear. “I already knew I had a great husband, family and friends, and I already made the most of life. But I think the fact it (her accident) brought so much attention to safety, is something good for everyone. As I've said before, no matter how good you are you can't train a horse not to trip over his own feet. Horses are big animals and may be unpredictable. Period.
Do you have or know of a horse which might be the right fit for Courtney? Send her an e-mail - firstname.lastname@example.org