On a more Serious Note…


I usually try to avoid news related topics, as news is more accurately reported on news sites, this forum is generally based on my opinion but it seems pertinent to address the recent tragic accident of America’s Olympian Courtney King-Dye.  If anyone is still unaware of the accident she was riding a young horse in warm-up at a competition when the horse slipped and fell, fracturing Courtney’s skull.  Courtney is still in a coma at the time of this writing.  Horse Channel.com has an article with more details on the accident and an address to Courtney’s Facebook page as well as a mailing address for well wishers.  I will include them at the bottom of this post as well.

This accident has stirred a lot of debate in the dressage community concerning mandatory use of helmets at competitions.  I received a letter from my local GMO yesterday requesting feedback from members of the equestrian community, as horse show organizers are fearful that if they alone enforce such mandatory regulations they may suffer loss of entries to shows that do not enforce the safety measures.  While I understand that entry money is what makes horse shows possible, hiring judges possible, etc. I am saddened that cash flow is the determining factor in most every decision that arises anymore.  It seems that competition dressage should now be termed commercial dressage.

As those who know me can testify I rarely, if ever, wear a helmet.  I am certainly not bragging about this, just stating the facts before someone else does in my comment section!!  In fact, I was forced to purchase one to ride while schooling some riders on a cross-country course a few years ago and in mock protest picked one with a picture of Mickey Mouse riding a horse on it.  After that day, I wore it very rarely.  It is not that I consciously disagree with the use of helmets,  I wore them when riding as a child and when I used to jump.  I believe I am of the age that safety was not as stringently observed and regulated as it is now.  Seatbelts were not mandatory and I’m not sure many people used them when I was young.  Nobody wore helmets when riding a bike, or skating as they do now.

I was, however, bucked off a horse a few months ago that was startled by my swishy jacket (see my first blog post!).  The next time I rode the horse, I removed my jacket! and asked the owner if I could use her helmet.  She had a Charles Owen helmet and it fit me perfectly.  The horse behaved wonderfully and luckily I didn’t have to test the helmet but I must admit I did feel safer and rode less apprehensively wearing the helmet.  After the ride I examined the construction and realized they have come a long way from the Mickey Mouse helmet that was little more than thin plastic over egg cartons.

Ever since riding with that helmet I tossed around the idea of purchasing one of my own.  Oddly enough I bought one the day before Courtney’s accident.  It is still not a natural instinct for me to grab it and wear it every time I ride, but I did yesterday and I do see the value in it.  I don’t yet know where I stand on mandatory helmet rules.  This opens up more questions like wearing protective vests or break-away stirrups.  I am coming around myself, however, to wearing the helmet, both for my own safety and as an example for the kids I teach.  As for the adults, that is a decision they can make for themselves.

I sympathize greatly with Courtney and her family and wish her the speediest recovery.  Please send her your well-wishes on Facebook or by mail.  Every acknowledgement and intention of well-being goes a long way in helping the recovery process.  She is a great rider and an inspiration to all dressage enthusiasts.  It is an unfortunate reality that no matter how many safety regulations are enforced, there is always a risk of injury when riding a horse, no matter how accomplished the rider or how quiet the horse.

Check out Behind the Bit’s post today for some interesting information on head injuries.

We’re all rooting for your recovery Courtney, get back in the saddle soon.

Dye’s Facebook page

Courtney Dye
2442 Muir Circle
Wellington, FL 33414


Anyone wishing to donate to the Medical Assistance Fund can make checks payable to:

Courtney King-Dye
c/o Lendon Gray
25 Lake Ave.
Bedford, NY 10506

13 thoughts on “On a more Serious Note…

  1. Holy cow, I hadn’t heard about the accident. That is frightening indeed- you can’t predict something like a slip or stumble. I have been meaning to find my helmet and start using it, now I really feel a sense of urgency about it.

  2. I also grew up without wearing a helment. I started wearing it around the kids (so they wouldnt tease me) then saw a video, Every Ride Everytime this will sure make you think twice! I grab my helment almost everytime now!
    I will send good wishes and keep courtney in my prayers!

    1. It seems like I’ve heard of that video before but have never seen it. I’ll have to research it but it sounds scary! Thanks for sending the positive energy Courtney’s way!

  3. I fall more on to the eventing side of the horse world than strictly dressage, but I always, always wear a helmet. It’s just a tipperary that cost about $60. It’s lightweight and comfortable.

    I guess I’ve just fallen off and hit my head way too many times to be comfortable on a horse without one.

    1. I noticed that all of my eventing students are religious about helmets. I don’t know what it is about dressage riders. This will sound really stupid, even to me, but I have ridden without one for so long that when someone asks me “do you wan’t my helmet?” I feel like they just jinxed me and I put it on! I probably shouldn’t admit that on my blog but there it is! I am now riding with it and hope it sticks as a habit!! I agree that an expensive helmet it not a necessity!

  4. I’ve been following her progress and am sad that she’s not coming out of the coma 😦

    I wear a helmet and am glad to have the extra protection. I have a Trexel and they make them so much lighter and breathable these days then when I was a kid. I hardly notice it.

    1. It is so great that people are supporting Courtney and following her progress. It is hard when the progress is slow, I am glad you are hanging in there. You’re right- it’s nice to have those breathable ones- especially here in Atlanta!

  5. While I think it’s a personal choice I am happy my favorite trainer is wearing one. I need her brains to continue my training.

  6. The biggest complaint about helmets I’ve heard is that they get sweaty in the summer, and that is annoying, but it seems like every time I’ve fallen off I’ve landed either on my head or back and then had my head snap back, and I’m so glad I always wear a helmet! Right now I’m dealing with my horse rearing, and I wouldn’t have the courage to get on him without a helmet. For me it’s a huge confidence builder, even though obviously there’s more that could go wrong that a helmet doesn’t protect you from.

    1. Thanks for stopping by my blog! I looked at your site and it is great!! I agree it does lend confidence to feel like at least the head is protected! Rearing horse definitely warrants a helmet!

  7. A frnied of mine rides in that Troxel Cheyenne. She’s a lifelong western rider and had never worn a helmet until very recently, but she actually really likes the look of the Cheyenne, so it’s a win all around. Of course, at age four, your son is going to outgrow whatever you get for him in about five seconds, isn’t he? I know the rule book states that any rider in any division can wear a helmet without penalty. I think a lot of saddle seat and western riders think that judges will still penalize them (maybe subconsciously). I don’t know if that’s true or not, but I would think you could plop a schooling helmet on your leadliner in any seat and the judge wouldn’t hold it against you. They might even appreciate that you put safety first. I’d be curious to hear a judge’s feedback on this one.

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