Equestrienne Gives a Park Matinee

Mounted on a Bridleless Arabian Horse, She Puts Him Through His Fancy Paces.


Traffic Police Finally Forced to Stop the Exhibition and Clear the Driveways

A slim young women in a, well-fitting khaki riding suit, perched on the back of a prancing Arabian horse, which she was controlling without bit or bridle on the drive in Central Park just back of the Metropolitan Museum of Fine Art yesterday morning, furnished excitement for a crowd that had followed her through the Park.

The equestrienne carried only a short whip, with which she flicked the horse's ears occasionally, but the way she forced him to perform difficult feats, all the time keeping her place in the small side saddle, brought forth long and loud applause. She had not been performing ten minutes before the roadway was blocked with carriages and automobiles and the Park police had to put an end to the performance.

The woman was Mrs. Minnie Thompson, one of the horsewomen with Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show. Her special work in the saddle has to do with the riding of the "high school horses," all of which are either full-blooded Arabian steeds or Western broncos. Her horsewoman-ship is one of the features of the exhibition, now at Madison Square Garden. She does not use a bridle in any of her performances, but her work has heretofore been indoors or under a tent with regular cir­cus surroundings.

Just to prove that she does not rely upon these surroundings in any particular, she consented to give a performance in the Park, but had timed the exhibition for an hour when few people would be around, so as to eliminate the possibility of police interference.

To make the performance all the more difficult, Mrs. Thompson chose Virgil, a full-blooded Arabian horse that has been only partially trained. At the show she usually performs with Joe Bailey, a bronco her husband, Ray Thompson trained six years ago. Shortly after 11 A. M. Mr. and Mrs. Thompson, in a high-seated trap drawn by Joe Bailey, appeared on the drive opposite the Eighty First Street entrance to the Park. Virgil trot­ted behind the trap, and the passers-by did not see a anything unusual in the group.

Just when there was a lull in the procession of automobiles and carriages Mrs. Thompson leaped nimbly from the trap, mounted Virgil, slipped off his bridle, and started to perform, with Cleopatra's Needle and the Park trees for background. It took the crowd a little time to appre­ciate just what was happening, but sud­denly there was a rush from all directions, and soon the pathways were blocked.

Carriages and autos drew up alongside the curb. and soon the daring young horsewoman had a throng that even Buffalo Bill himself would not likely have found fault with except that no one paid admission. Old gentlemen in immaculate Sunday attire, fashionably dressed women, coachmen, chauffeurs, pedestrians, and policemen watched in wonder as the sleek, high-spirited animal waltzed and two-stepped up and down the roadway, stood on his hind legs and pawed at the sky, or at the bidding of his mistress picked up her handkerchief from the ground and handed it to the rider.

The hardest feat was when, suddenly rearing on his hind legs until he stood entirely upright, Virgil walked several steps or wheeled in circles, pawing the while with his front hoofs. While the horse was in this position the rider simply leaned backward until her shoulders touched the horse's back, and then suddenly shot up­right again when the horse assumed a natural position. She maintained the difficult position by simply crooking her knee over the saddle horn. The movements of both horse and rider were so natural that the woman's hair was not even disarranged. All she had to do to make the horse obey her in every particular was to whisper to him or touch him lightly with her riding crop.

After the young rider had put Virgil through a great many manoeuvres, to the delight of the fast-multiplying throng, several traffic policemen, who had been watching the performance with breathless interest, called a halt, to straighten out the tangle of vehicles that had piled up.

Slipping the bridle over Virgil, Mrs.. Thompson turned south and galloped through the Park back to Madison Square Garden.

Just to give the crowd good measure, Mr. Thompson, in the high trap made Joe Bailey do a coochee-coochee dance. A young woman in a limousine, who had carefully watched Mrs. Thompson's ex­hibition, ordered her chauffeur to draw close to the performer as she was leaving.

"How much do you want for the horse?" she inquired.

The only answer she got was a negative shake of the head.

Published: May 2, 1910
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