Courtney King Dye As Focused as Ever on Horses

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Courtney King Dye riding Sarona at the Vinceremos Therapeutic Riding Center. Photo: Courtesy Carol Cohen

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

Courtney King Dye is nearing the second anniversary of the accident that put the U.S. Olympian into a coma for a month, learning how to ride again and thinking of competing at Paralympics, Olympics, World Cups, World Eqeestrian Games…

You get the picture–Courtney as optimistic as ever, making the most of what she has and not what she doesn’t and so appreciative of the outpouring of support that the joy it gives her–in her words: “If my body knew how to make tears, it would.”

In response to questions from dressage-new.com and her own reports, a picture has emerged of the life of the 34-year-old Courtney which is as focused on horses as it was on Wednesday, March 3, 2010 when she fell from a horse and fractured her skull. That was just months after competing for the U.S. team at the 2008 Olympic Games.

After almost two years of intense therapy and rehabilitation, and along the way becoming a catalyst for the drive to improve safety for riders, how does Courtney view her life?

“Same as I always have,” she said. “I enjoy what I can. They may be different things now, but there are plenty of things to enjoy. I’m very lucky that I’m ok cognitively (well, as ok as ever!) and I feel I can still be useful. Plus I’m so happy that my accident has been the cause of more attention to safety.

“I can’t say I find it humorous, but I’m totally happy that I did it when I could. I hope to do another Olympics, but in the meantime, I’m happy that I did it. I don’t compare how I am now to how I was in the Olympics; I compare how I am now to when I was sleeping for a month!

“I want to do a Paralympics and then an able-bodied Olympics, a couple World Cups, a World Equestrian Games… you know, my goals haven’t changed; they’ve just been postponed! Oh, and being able to walk without a cane!

Courtney King-Dye and Myhtilus at the 2008 Olympic Games. © Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

“Of course I think briefly about what could have been, but that’s life. It’s not. So I don’t dwell on it. And there are actually benefits to it because Grandioso, a horse I would have been trying for it on, is now in Spain, and he has a much better chance of making the Team there than here.”

Grandioso is the 12-year-old P.R.E. stallion owned by Kimberly Boyer of the United States that Courtney trained and competed successfully up to Intermediaire II. After the accident, Grandioso was sent to Spain, which has qualified a team for next year’s Olympics, to be ridden by Jose Manuel Martin Dockx and the pair placed fourth at the recent Salzburg, Austria, CDI4*.

“I’m plodding slowly toward getting better,” Courtney reported on her Internet site.”I’ve gotten a bit more into living regular life, writing articles, teaching, grocery shopping, talking on the phone.

“I still have all the same ailments; my right side barely listens to me, and a four-year-old speaks better than I do. I still do physical, occupational, and speech therapy, and go for walks and trike rides every day, but I’ve decided that no matter what happens I’m going to look back at this time and know I enjoyed life, not given years and years to just do therapy.

“I’m super happy to be in Florida; everything is 10 minutes away instead of the 40 it is at home in Connecticut. Plus with the cold, I’m pretty sure I would have spent four months on the couch.”

In addition to 13 horses in training at her barn, Courtney also spends time at Vinceremos Therapeutic Riding Center in Loxahatchee where “I’m riding a fabulous sway backed pony” named Sarona that was donated by Carol Cohen of Two Swans Farm in neighboring Wellington.

Of her efforts to put Sarona on the bit, the pony “thinks I can’t possibly be serious as she is normally caring for 10 year olds with disabilities, so I don’t think she’s been asked to come round in years.”

Meantime, Courtney’s medical insurance capped a long time ago and events are still being organized to raise funds for help meet the costs of therapy.

Recent fundraisers were held in Texas and an eBay store was operated by Riders4Helmets, made possible Courtney said by “Just people who wanted to help me and were willing to take on a huge amount of work to do so unprovoked. And the donors, my goodness.

“If my body knew how to make tears, it would.”