Humans of the Horse World: Courtney King Dye
As a horsewoman and a mother myself, one blogger who has resonated with me lately is Courtney King Dye. Yep--Courtney, the 2008 Olympian and icon in the dressage world, writes a wonderful blog about her life as an equestrian, mother, and wife. In 2010, the trajectory of Courtney's involement in the sport changed dramatically when she fell from a horse and suffered a traumatic brain injury. Since her recovery, she has become an advocate for helmet safety awareness. Because of our shared commitment to the wellbeing of horse people, Courtney went to bat for Equestrian Aid in a big way last month: she asked her friend Steffen Peters to donate a month of training to Equestrian Aid's auction at our benefit gala ALTHEA: An Evening of Enchantment, to be held in Wellington, FL, on February 12, 2017. Needless to say, we're thrilled to have Steffen's support as well!
Courtney was also generous enough to answer a few questions I asked her about her life today. Check out her responses below.
With all of the safety information that is out there now, what do you have to say to people who still resist wearing a helmet when they are around horses (from groundwork to riding)?
I really have nothing to say to them at all--I certainly am no one to preach as I rode without a helmet for 25 years. I would hope that everyone would learn from my accident: I was a top rider and my horse did nothing naughty--he simply tripped and fell over his own feet. Accidents can happen to anyone at any time, and skill has nothing to do with preventing that. My accident and the resulting overwhelming change in my life should blatantly prove that protecting the brain trumps any reason for not wearing a helmet, but if they didn't learn from that, it only makes me sad.
What advice would you give a young rider wanting to make a career and compete at the top levels of the dressage world today?
First, work for someone you not only want to ride like, you want to be like. Monkey see, monkey do. Second, remember to place value on your integrity and character as much as on your talent and competitive successes. This is not only the best way for you to feel good about yourself, other people value it as well. All of my biggest sponsors supported me for who I was. Some supported me since I was eighteen years old, before I had any successes at all. Finally, work hard!
What are the biggest challenges that para-equestrians face?
Besides the physical challenges, the sponsorship is basically nonexistent because of the low spectator draw.
What role do you see horses playing in your own and your girls' future? Are your daughters interested in horses, and do you wish a life with horses for them?
I will always be a trainer. It's where my heart is. Both of my daughters have a strong affinity for all animals, but there doesn't seem to be any particular draw to horses yet. I really don't mind one way or the other. They will choose; either you have the bug or you don't!
You have a toddler and a child under the age of one. How did being a horsewoman prepare you to be a mom?
Nothing could prepare me for being a mom!