US Olympian Dressage Rider Debbie McDonald Credits Courtney King Dye For Surviving a Bad Fall

Even while riding her retired Olympic mount Brentina, McDonald has worn a helmet since teammate Courtney King Dye's accident.credit: David Stoecklein
Even while riding her retired Olympic mount Brentina, McDonald has worn a helmet since teammate Courtney King Dye's accident.credit: David Stoecklein

Dressage Olympian Debbie McDonald took a nasty fall earlier this year and credits her recovery to fellow teammate Courtney King Dye. “After Courtney's accident I wore the helmet in honor of her as a soldier would do for his fallen brother.” Debbie told dressagedaily. “I said from that day that I would never get on a horse without one nor would I teach anyone without one. There is never a day that I don't think of my Teammate and friend Courtney.” Earlier this year, McDonald had a nasty fall from a young horse. “I went head first and flew about 30 in air before landing. They say that I never even got my hands out in front of me. My helmet had the base of the footing on it and the whole shell shifted.”

While a CAT scan found no bleeding and no apparent fractures, within a week McDonald who had a fusion 20 years ago noticed her neck was not right. An MRI showed that she had a few herniated discs pressing on my spinal cord and nerves. “To be honest there are so many spurs and damage that I am afraid my riding days are over.” Debbie revealed. “They will start doing injections into the disc to help relieve pressure soon.

Steffen Peters, Debbie McDonald,
Courtney King Dye and "friends"
at the 2008 Olympic Selection Trials.The concussion has been difficult and it is the mental part that I am having problems with, teaching and not riding is not what I had planned for in my retirement. I do believe that things would have ended up differently if it were not for the helmet I was wearing. I have Courtney to thank for that. Yes, my life is going to change and I have a lot to think about but I am truly lucky to be here. I only hope that Courtney knows how many stories like mine have happened and because of her we will be alright. Courtney, we all love you and can't wait to see you out there once again!




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