“Superman” star Christopher Reeve agreed to appear in a poster promoting safe horse riding not long before he was paralyzed in a jumping event he once called “the most dangerous thing I do.”
The poster - which has yet to be released - depicts Reeve jumping a fence on horseback and reads: “In films I’ve played an invincible hero - but in real life, I wouldn’t think of riding without a helmet.”
Reeve, an avid horseman, wrote the copy and provided the photo, said David McLain, head of the safety committee of the U.S. Combined Training Association, a national equestrian group.
“The idea came to me that even Superman needed a helmet,” said McLain, a Birmingham, Ala., rheumatologist.
Reeve, 42, was in serious condition and unable to breathe on his own Thursday after breaking his neck and damaging his spinal cord Saturday in a headlong fall that experts said could kill him or leave him a quadriplegic
He was wearing one of the small riding helmets and a padded safety vest when his horse stopped abruptly in front of a hurdle. Reeve pitched over his steed and landed on his head. The helmets cannot keep the neck from bending or breaking.
Ironically, the “Superman” actor recently played a paralyzed man in an HBO movie, “Above Suspicion,” shown last week. It is about a policeman hit in the spine by a bullet; he recovers from his paralysis and gets away with murder.
McLain said he had been putting together financing to get the poster distributed to horse magazines and tack shops by this summer. He said he did not know what would happen to the project now that Reeve has been injured.
McLain said Reeve also planned to narrate a video about safe horsemanship.
Reeve told The Associated Press this spring that the most difficult part of the combined training event is the cross-country jumping over stone walls, fences, ditches and other obstacles.
“You need to breathe deep and be bold. That’s the most dangerous thing I do,” Reeve said.
He said he was thrown from his horse during a similar event in Calgary in 1993.