By now, you’ve surely heard about Courtney King-Dye’s accident in Florida. You can read the article here. Current reports are that she is gradually improving and her vital signs are good, but she is still in a coma.
I’ve hashed out my feelings on helmet use on this blog before. I used to be a sometimes helmet-wearer, but now I’m a believer in, “every time, every ride.” There’s no reason not to wear one, in my opinion. Helmets are becoming the norm for show jumpers, due in no small part to regulations requiring them, but they are still not part of the culture of most other disciplines. The horse show world likes its traditions, and a helmet on an upper-level dressage rider (or a barrel racer, or a saddle seat rider) just seems out of place.
Now can we all agree that it’s time to move past this mentality?
Nothing, including helmets, can make riding 100% safe, but numerous studies have shown that helmets greatly reduce the risk of head injury and brain damage. This has been widely known for many years, and yet, those statistics do little to sway riders who have already decided that they don’t want or need a helmet. But maybe seeing one of America’s best riders land in a hospital bed with a fractured skull will have more of an impact than raw facts and numbers.
Based on reports given after the accident, Courtney wasn’t doing anything especially dangerous. She was schooling a client’s horse, not working at speed or jumping. She was in a controlled environment. The horse wasn’t misbehaving. He simply slipped, and she fell with him. It could happen to any of us.
After the accident, Courtney’s fellow dressage riders at the Palm Beach Dressage Derby wore green ribbons for brain injury awareness. Several reports from the scene say that many upper level riders donned helmets in the schooling arenas, and some even wore them during their tests. It’s a touching act of solidarity, but was it indicative of a new attitude, or simply a symbol of support that will slip away by the next show? And will this have any effect on saddle seat or western riders, or competitors at breed shows who still sport those outdated “for apparel only” hunt caps?
Time will tell on the helmet issue. For now, we’re all just hoping for the best possible outcome for Courtney and her friends and family as her recovery continues. Her husband, Jason Dye, is posting updates on her status on her official website, courtneykingdressage.com
Fans can send cards, photos or messages of support to:
2442 Muir Circle
Wellington, FL 33414
If you would like to contribute to Courtney’s medical assistance fund, checks can be sent to:
c/o Lendon Gray
25 Lake Ave.
Bedford, NY 10506
Back to The Near Side