Legendary Equestrian, Animal Rescuer Patsy Topping Dies at 77

Patsy Topping
Patsy Topping
Jonathon Ziegler/patrickmcmullan.com

Patsy Topping, the co-founder of Bridgehampton-based Swan Creek Farm, that trained scores of competitive equestrians and who was credited with saving thousands of animals from being euthanized, died on March 14. She was 77.

Topping and her husband Alvin established the 37-acre horse farm and riding school a half century ago on Halsey Lane, where they raised their three children, Jagger, Gretchen and Christian. About 25 years ago, she and her husband began to split their time between Long Island and South Carolina, where they purchased a second horse farm. That’s where Patsy was inspired to volunteer as a rescuer, shuttling cats and dogs from Southern shelters to the East Hampton-based nonprofit Animal Rescue Fund of the Hamptons (ARF) for years starting in 2007.

“A force to be reckoned with, Patsy had a special love and gift with animals,” ARF wrote in a tribute to Topping, who rescued unwanted dogs and cats from overcrowded, under-resourced shelters in South Carolina. “Thousands of animals owe their lives to Patsy, and they have filled thousands of homes with boundless love.”

Patricia Clarke Topping was born on April 22, 1945 in New Jersey, one of five children to mother Janice Smith and Lawrence Clarke, who led a fish-processing facility in Amagansett before she met her husband and moved to the South Fork full-time.

Aside from boarding horses and training riders, Topping was also a competitive rider herself, including in The Hampton Classic, where she was a fixture and in which her farm’s students regularly showed. For her rescue work, ARF honored Topping with its lifetime achievement award in August 2021.

Topping is survived by her husband, three children, granddaughter and four siblings. She was interred at Edgewood Cemetery in Bridgehampton. A remembrance will be announced at a later date.

Donations in her name can be made to to the Animal Rescue Fund, 124 Daniels Hole Road #2616, East Hampton, NY 11937, or at arfhamptons.org.

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