Dec 8, 2010

Courtney King-Dye: The Power of Tragedy

Reports are out today that Courtney is officially back in the saddle, working to transition from the hippotherapy riding that she's been doing back to the level that she was working at before her accident.  I'm very, very glad that she going to be okay and able to ride again.  It'll be a slow process, of course.  As she acknowledges, "[she] hopes to ride dressage horses again this winter, and compete in Grand Prix by the end of next summer, but understands the need to be realistic about her recovery." 

Even more importantly, I hope this is a wake up call to dressage riders to rethink their decision on helmets.  I know that more and more riders are choosing to ride and show in their helmets, but it's not enough and there aren't yet enough of the right kind of role models.  If you're a high-level, high-profile rider, you should make the decision to wear helmet, just to set the proper tone for riders who want to emulate you.  I hope that she will make the decision to always wear a helmet from here on out and in that way her accident will bring about positive change in the dressage world.  I complained about her hypocritical stance on helmets over a year ago when she dodged a audience-posed question about her thoughts on helmet usage.  She wore a helmet while exhibiting at the 2009 Syracuse Invitational, but was vague about her personal feelings towards the equipment.  It was the right time and place to effect true change in the world of dressage, but she remained noncommital.  However, I am hoping she might have changed her thoughts due to her posting of October 13 on her website, stating:  Another thing I learned at WEG is top riders are role models. Everyone watches us show. So I changed my mind about helmets. There's a personal decision involved, yes, but if what you do affects someone else, then show them the right thing. If it's made a rule, everyone will show in one, and you'll look incomplete without one...

Better late than never.