She’s back!

 You may or may not have heard, but Courtney King Dye is back in the ring! According to her article in Dressage Today , Courtney is once again showing her horses. But where did she go, you may ask. Courtney King Dye was one of the USA’s brightest rising stars in the Olympics of 2008. She was the youngest person for the USA to ever ride down centerline in dressage. She was truly brilliant. But all this can to a screeching halt when on March 3, 2010 Courtney fell from her horse and suffered a skull fracture and an extreme concussion. Courtney King Dye lay in a coma for over a month before she finally woke; and when she did she had to relearn how to walk, talk, and eat. However, over two years later, she is riding and competing again.

Courtney King Dye has been keeping a online diary since she awoke. In her diary she speaks about her recovery and training for new para competitions. Para competitions are horse shows for riders with physical handicaps. On 5/16/2012 she wrote that her current horse Buddy, aka Make Lemonade, was having trouble with her riding capabilities. She also shares her concerns about not being able to make the Para-Olympic team. On 6/06/2012 Courtney wrote “I’ve officially given up on Buddy”. In This post she announces that she will not be on the Para-Olympic team and that she will be donating Buddy to a college.

Courtney King Dye has always inspired me to try harder and get back on the horse I have fallen off of. She is a wonderful example of how something as life changing as a coma can open up new opportunities for a person. Courtney King Dye has also been a personal inspiration to me especially after my all to recent fall. In December of last year I was thrown from a horse that I had never ridden before and suffered a concussion, sever bone bruising in both my knees, and a sprained neck. I could barely walk for more than ten minutes for about a month and during that time I could not ride. I was extremely nervous about going back to riding but reading about Courtney’s story helped me a great deal. Thank you Courtney King Dye, you will always be in my prayers!


Paragon piaffes across the pond!

 The team was announced on June 18th of 2012! The official USA Dressage Team is as follows: Steffen Peters on Ravel, Tina Koynot on Calecto V, Jan Ebling on Rafalca, Adrienne Lyle on Wizard, and, as the reserve , Heather Blitz on Paragon. Steffen Peters will also be bringing Legolas as a back-up horse. This means that Todd Flettrich and Otto have declined the offer to be reserves. Instead Todd and Otto’s owner have decided to retire Otto as he is already 16 years old. Therefore, as the sixth place contenders, Heather Blitz and Paragon have stepped up to become the USA Reserve pair. The article  stating Otto’s withdrawal can be found here.

In her article Paragon Is Headed to England, Jennifer O Bryant expresses her sheer joy at Paragon’s inclusion in the US team. She tells us the story of how “Their’s is a wonderful story”. She goes on to tell us how Heather was present at Paragon’s birth and how she has been Paragon’s sole owner and trainer. She also reveals the reason be hind Otto’s withdrawal. He is retiring! Otto is 16 years old and O Bryant tells us, she suspects, his owners believe “He probably doesn’t have another Olympics in him.”

To those of you that are familiar with horse showing, it should come as no surprise that Otto is being retired. A horse’s body can only handle a certain amount of showing at different levels. Of course the level and duration of showing is determined by how well the horse is trained and genetics. However, even the best of horses can only handle Olympic level dressage for so long. Still Otto had an impressive run of showing with a 73.067% in the Olympic Grand Prix Special. So as we wish a fond farewell to Todd Flettrich and Otto, we can be sure that we will hear more from this talented rider!

Some may say that Otto has more experience than Paragon and is therefore a better candidate. While it is true that Otto has more experience, it is also true that Paragon is young and has more energy. We need a new face in the Olympics or we run the risk of becoming out dated and insignificant. Heather Blitz and Paragon are the type of fresh faces that we need to see more of.

Now on to Paragon. I guess it really is like they say on the Visa commercial, “when we cheer, they go just a little bit further.” Well, us at home cheered from behind the silver screen, and Heather came through. Although she did not make the original team, she did just well enough to make it after Otto declined. This is a great achievement for the pair, they have just started showing Grand Prix and they have already made the Olympic Reserve. If you’re not familiar with the term Grand Prix, you can click here for an explanation. This incredible team has progressed together for nine years to reach this point. As Heather Blitz has been Paragon’s sole owner and trainer since his birth, she has been able to have complete control when making decisions about her horse’s life. This is a luxury that most top level competitors do not have. I wish Paragon and Heather all the best in their upcoming adventure across the pond!