Watch the Video! Dressage Olympian Courtney King Dye has changed the centuries old look of Dressage traditional dress as well as national rules in the USA and Canada from the top hat to helmets and was the recipient of the 2012 FEI Against All Odds Award, presented to her by FEI president HRH Princess Haya. Courtney and her husband Jason Dye were brought to Istanbul, Turkey the location of the FEI General Assembly where her presence and award accelerated the attention to safety with the International Governing Body of Equestrian Sport. Now back in America, Courtney sent us her story to share with our readers. “The whole trip was incredible. I can't say I'm not sad for what I lost but there are definitely some major bonuses I wouldn't have otherwise had!” Courtney told DressageDaily. "Princess Haya presented the awards and when I got to the stage, she gave me a very genuine hug. She's extremely warm and caring and was right there, holding my hand for support whenever I had to move.”
When asked on stage by the announcer what winning the award meant to her, Courtney responded “I normally don't care much about awards or prizes, but this one was very meaningful because it's done through nominations. Anyone can make a nomination and just the fact that people thought of me means my accident affected people, gives it value.” Courtney continued, “The fact that my accident brought such attention to safety, particularly helmet use, gives it a purpose. I wouldn't do it again mind you, but if it saves one life, it makes it seem worthwhile.”
Courtney King Dye believes and strongly the FEI should make wearing helmets a rule in Dressage as they have done in showjumping and other equestrian sport in competition on all levels at all ages “because while we can’t control what people do at home we can control what people do at shows and like with showjumping it creates a habit.”
“Many people came up expressing their sympathetic gratitude,” Courtney continues, “my response to which I've said before but I think bares repeating: I think my accident was necessary in the fight for safety because an Olympian who sustains a brain injury while riding proves that injury has nothing to do with level of skill. For 15 years, I was a person who only rode the young or "dangerous" horses with a helmet, but my horse did nothing naughty; he just tripped over his own feet.
The FEI wants to do something with riders4helmets. It was brought up many times and they are very enthusiastic. The fact that our international governing body is supporting our safety campaign adds a great deal of weight nationally.
Her visit to the FEI General Assembly gave her a look at the inner working of the organization, which governs international equestrian sport. “It was also great to get to know the individuals who run the FEI. Every person I spoke with who works at the FEI headquarters raved about working with their coworkers. They all said that everyone works extremely hard but they're all so passionate about what they do that they don't mind.”
Her accident in 2010 resulting in a brain injury which ended one high performance career as a Dressage rider, began a new life for her she would not have chosen, but the miracle of her recovery and return to training, opened the possibility to compete for the USA again in another high perfomance discipline in the United States Para Equestrian Dressage. These are additional achievements Courtney has accomplished as well as raising awareness for helmet safety in Dressage which earned her possibly the largest number of nominations from across the globe for this award.
"Thank you, Mary and DressageDaily for asking readers to nominate me for the FEI Against All Odds award, and thank you to all those who thought I deserved it!"