Courtney King-Dye Returns to the Big Stage… to Watch

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Courtney King-Dye, with husband Jason Dye on left, Lendon Gray on right, watching her assistant Jennifer Marchand riding Don Principe. © 2010 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Courtney King-Dye, with husband Jason Dye on left, Lendon Gray on right, watching her assistant Jennifer Marchand riding Don Principe. © 2010 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

GLADSTONE, New Jersey, Aug. 6–Courtney King-Dye, a top American Olympian whose life at age 32 was shattered by a horse accident, came back to the biggest stage Friday to watch a horse she had been training ridden by her assistant for the Intermediaire title at the U.S. National Championships known as the Festival of Champions.

The appearance by Courtney with her husband, Jason, who has been her constant companion, and Lendon Gray, long time mentor and trainer, was emotional for those on the opening day of the championships over two weekend which are also the selection trials for the U.S. team for the World Equestrian Games in Kentucky next month.

Jason Dye guiding Courtney. © 2010 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Jason Dye guiding Courtney. © 2010 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

No one doubts that but for the accident on Mar. 5, Courtney would have been at these championships battling for a place on America’s team at the WEG that may be on home turf only once.

Emotions ran high as announcer Brian O’Connor informed the audience at this historic facility–created by James Cox Brady, an American Gilded Age financier–of Courtney’s presence. She was sitting in a golf cart with Jason and Lendon to watch the ride by Jennifer Marchand and Don Principe.

After the ride, she went to the VIP tent with Jason.

“I cannot believe her strength, her spirit,” said Oded Shimoni, a U.S.-based Israeli trainer. “I never thought I would see this…” He held his hand over his heart and added: “It is amazing.”

The question every one asks but no one wants to answer is about the future.

Courtney was in a coma for the better part of three weeks after the accident. Then she was airlifted to the Kessler Institute in New Jersey for advance rehabilitation therapy.

“She has such spirit,” Shimoni said. “Who knows what the future holds.

“No matter what you might think about how much you can come back, Courtney has broken all the rules. I see her and what she has done and… it is hard… it has been so fantsastic.”

Carol Cohen, who organized fund raisers at her Two Swans Farm in Wellington, Florida, to help pay Courtney’s medical bills, put her hand on her chest and said: “It puts life in perspective. Courtney is amazing… She makes you realize what is important.”

Tina Konyot, a friend of Courtney’s who helped her leave the VIP area after everyone had left, was overcome with emotion.FoC Tina Konyot Courtney King-Dye Lendon Gray_JB_2898

Tina of Palm City. Florida, competing for a place on the U.S. WEG team with Calecto V, helped Lendon guide Courtney to the vehicle that would take her home.

Tina said: “I said to her look how much people love you.

“Do you know what she said? She was laughing so don’t take it the wrong way:

‘All you need to do is almost die.'”