Excerpt from Still Me by Christopher Reeve, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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Still Me

by Christopher Reeve

Still Me by Christopher Reeve X
Still Me by Christopher Reeve
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  • First Published:
    May 1998, 324 pages

    Jun 1999, 255 pages


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I was not happy with the way he took the first four jumps. We got over them, but I felt that the two of us weren't connecting. I pulled him up and retired from the course rather than risk injury in the quest for a prize. I was a good sailor, having raced or cruised in all kinds of sailboats from the age of seven. I had flown various airplanes for over twenty years and made two solo trips across the Atlantic; I had raced sailplanes, and once climbed to 32,000 feet in the powerful rising air currents over Pikes Peak in Colorado. I enjoyed scuba diving, played tennis, and was a skier as well. I never felt that I was courting danger, because I always stayed within my self-imposed limits. In all aspects of my life I enjoyed being in control, which is why my accident was a devastating shock not only to me but to everyone who knew me.

The fact that I went to Culpeper at all was a fluke. I had originally signed up to compete that weekend at an event in Vermont. I'd had success in Vermont the year before. I'd finished first in one event at Tamarack, and placed third in the Area I Championships in the fall of 1994. I'd met a lot of nice people. I also preferred the cool weather. I figured that on Memorial Day weekend, it would be more pleasant in Vermont than down in Virginia.

I also knew that this event would be the last one I could do for the season, because I was about to go to Ireland for a film. I was scheduled to leave five days later to act in Kidnapped, produced by Francis Ford Coppola and directed by Ivan Passer. I had been over to Ireland the week before to rent a house, and I'd found a perfect one about twenty miles south of Dublin, which just happened to be right next to a stable. I'd made arrangements to train with one of the top event riders in Ireland, who was based there. I was very excited about that. I was going to be riding in the movie, too. So my plan was to do one more event on my new horse, Eastern Express, nicknamed Buck, whom I'd bought in California during the shoot of Village of the Damned. He was a twelve-year-old American Thoroughbred with a lot of experience in combined training-in fact, he and his previous owner had been coached by Brian Sabo. Brian recommended the horse to me, describing him as a fearless jumper in both cross-country and stadium, big enough to carry me, though not a star in dressage. He was a light chestnut gelding with a sweet disposition, easily won over with plenty of carrots and TLC. I tried him out in all three phases at Yves Sauvignon's place, not far from the film location, and we agreed it was a good match. I felt that Denver's tendency to run on the cross-country course and occasionally knock down rails in the show-jumping phase meant I would probably not be able to move him up to the higher levels of competition. But Buck had the experience, a keen attitude, and a lot of mileage left in him.

I brought him back east after I finished the film and worked with Lendon Gray, one of the top dressage coaches in the country, whose barn is near our home in Bedford. (Dana and I left the city in 1992, ostensibly because we didn't want to bring up our new son, Will, in the Flatiron district of New York; but I was especially happy with our decision because it gave me a chance to ride six days a week.) I trained with Lendon during the winter of 1994-95 and did well. Buck's dressage was coming along nicely. I alternated work in the ring with conditioning, walking him up and down hills to strengthen his hind end; he needed a stronger canter. By January I was taking blue ribbons at local dressage shows and getting higher scores than I ever had before. I was very happy with the way the horse was going and the kind of partnership Buck and I were building.

My plan was to spend the '95 season with Buck doing Training Level events and then move up to Preliminary in '96. In Training Level the jumps are never more than three feet six and the combinations are not too difficult, but the Preliminary Level is much more demanding, and you really need a brave and capable horse as well as full-time dedication to the sport. I wanted to be careful, to do everything steadily and safely, but to make progress. Novice Level was no challenge anymore, and Training Level was getting to be pretty easy. But I wanted to make sure I was prepared for Preliminary.

Use of this excerpt from Still Me by Christopher Reeve may be made only for purposes of promoting the book, with no changes, editing, or additions whatsoever, and must be accompanied by the following copyright notice: Copyright© 1998 by Christopher Reeve. All rights reserved

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