Olympic rider King-Dye to compete on Don Principe

Published 12:03 pm Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Maryanna Haymon of Marydell Farms in Columbus recently announced that Courtney King-Dye is now riding and competing the farm&39;s stallion Don Principe.

Dye has represented the United States in two world cups in dressage for 2007 and 2008 aboard the Dutch stallion Idocus. She has also competed in the 2008 Olympic Games with the Dutch gelding Harmony&squo;s Mythilus.

Coming from a farm with western horses in Saginaw, Mich., Dye said she was driving her mother crazy with her love for horses by the time she was four. Her father had saddle bred horses and she would go to the barn by herself, hook up the Shetland pony to the cart and drive the pony around in the yard.

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Her love of riding and being around horses and ponies grew as she attended school.

When her mother and father divorced and she was nine, Dye moved to a little town where she spent a lot of time at a nearby stable. She walked to the stable before school started and mucked stalls. The school bus picked her up there and then after school dropped her off again to help with barn chores or to ride if there was a chance.

Dye did 4-H and some hunter and jumper riding and showing, eventing ‐ whatever the owners of the horses would allow her to do.

&dquo;At 11 I decided my career was at a standstill and that began a great series of moves away from my parents until I graduated a year early from high school in order to work for Lendon Gray,&uot; Dye said. &uot;I worked for Gray for a year before attending college. This was heaven for me and through all the moves I had made, I knew this was what I was looking for in my work and riding with horses,&dquo; said Dye.

Dye worked for Lendon Gray for six years and she got to ride horses in all sizes, shapes, breeds, and levels. Eventually she earned the privilege to show many of them. Dye did the instructor certification program and was involved in many demos and exhibitions.

Dye said the Lendon Gray experience was her number one great influence when she began her serious riding career.

&dquo;Lendon Gray gave me the most and I feel I have emulated her more than anyone,&uot; said Dye. She is an incredibly generous person and she always had the best of intentions at heart. I don&squo;t think there is anyone who is better for getting young people to start dressage riding than Lendon Gray. She continually gives of herself to help others.&uot;

When Dye was 21, she went to Germany with several horses to train with Conrad Schumacher. Since then, Dye has been back in Germany for training and showing ‐ both times with Klaus Balkenhol.

Scott Hassler and his wife, Susanne, are also role models in Dye&39;s life, she said.

&uot;They have helped me tremendously,&uot; said Dye.

Another influence has been Klaus Balkenhol.

&uot;Klaus Balkenhol is a genius in piaffe and passage and such a true master and horseman,&uot; Dye said.

Dye will be riding and competing the stallion Don Principe of Marydell Farms here in Columbus this winter in Florida.

&dquo;I&squo;ve only had him for a month and my goals for him are long term,&uot; Dye said. &uot;I have the seeds of success for him in the back of my mind and to ride in the qualifiers for the World Equestrian Games in 2010. I won&squo;t push him. He&squo;s a very talented horse and needs time. He&squo;s only ten. I love riding him. He&squo;s absolutely one of the most generous horses I have ever ridden ‐ and for certain the most generous stallion. He always wants to please and never says no in his work. If there is a resistance it is because he doesn&squo;t understand something. These qualities go a long way in international competition. He is a joy to ride and train.&dquo;

Dye has 13 horses in training at the present time from training level to Grand Prix, with ages four to sixteen. She said she has a couple of very good training level horses and a couple of very good Grand Prix horses with a gap in the middle ranks right now.

The most crucial mistake Dye made had its origins as early as when she was nine years old.

&dquo;It was a&bsp; mistake I made [but] it got me where I needed to be,&uot; Dye said. &uot;I never focused on anything except riding. When I went to Lendon Gray&squo;s at age 16, I had to work to earn money to live, so I always had a night job. I also needed and wanted an education so I would take evening college courses, which meant I had to work more. For five years straight I literally worked day and night, studied, and went to school.

&uot;By the time I was 21, I was showing eight to ten horses in each horse show. Then I went to Germany and I was so burned out, I didn&squo;t realize it. My one tour horse, Idocus, was injured and taken away. And there suddenly I was in Europe, devastated, and with nothing.

&uot;I realized at that point I needed some balance, and I vowed that I would never be an unhappy person who relies completely on competitive horses for happiness. Any person who relies on competitive horses for their well being and happiness is bound to be disappointed because it is so emotional, unpredictable, and heart wrenching.

&uot;When I came back home to the states, I enrolled in school at Columbia University. I rode to make money.

&uot;I look back and appreciate that devastation in my life and all that it has taught me. If I had not invested all of myself completely in those early years, I would not have been able to be where I am today. I am grateful for the epiphany and feel I am not only a happier person but also a better rider and trainer because of the balance I finally realized I needed.&dquo;

Dye said she loves the sensitive horses who like their work and are competitive. According to Dye, the horses that look forward to the next adventure and who can communicate and feel things are the best ones to ride and train. She said she loves to be with the fantastic animals that make her life exciting and happy.

Dye spends her summers and winters in New York. She said she values her husband, her family, her good health and many friends in life.

Dye&squo;s relaxation and hobbies include travel, reading, golf, tennis, lounging on a boat, water skiing, and cooking with her husband.