Eventing Nation: Rider fatality at Somerford Park

Some very sad news out of the eventing world today: A 26-year-old New Zealand event rider was fatally injured yesterday at an event in England. Jenni has the details.

Top: Tom Gadsby, center. Photo courtesy of Uptown Eventing.

From Jenni:

Equestrian Sports New Zealand has confirmed via an official statement that Tom Gadsby, 26, a New Zealand eventer based in England, was killed today in a rotational fall at fence four of the CIC* cross-country course at Somerford Park International Horse Trials in Cheshire, England. The North West Ambulance Service and Cheshire police were called to the scene of the accident around 2:20 local time (9:30 a.m. EST), and the event was halted shortly thereafter. Eyewitness reports on the Horse & Hound forums indicate his horse, The Drover, stood up immediately following the accident and walked away unharmed from the scene.

From Equestrian Sports NZ:

It is with great sadness that Equestrian Sports New Zealand confirms that New Zealand eventing rider Tom Gadsby was fatally injured in a fall on the cross country at Somerford Park Horse Trials in Cheshire, UK overnight.

The 26-year-old rising star was based with international eventer Tiny Clapham near Huntingdon in Cambridgeshire, and had been competing in the UK since 2012.

Tom was competing in a one star class on board The Drover when the accident happened at fence 4B at approximately 1420 hours (UK time) on Sunday, August 18. The seven-year-old skewbald gelding was not injured in the incident.

Tom's death has brought an out-pouring of sadness from the international eventing world.

Equestrian Sports New Zealand chief executive Jim Ellis says the whole equestrian community is deeply saddened by the news. “On behalf of ESNZ members I express our sincerest condolences to Tom's family and close friends,” he said.

“Tom was a talented showjumper and eventer who was in Europe to fulfill his dream of competing as a professional event rider – a dream he achieved but which has been tragically cut short.”

He thanked colleagues at British Eventing, their officials and medical staff who did everything possible for Tom after his fall.

British Eventing chief executive Mike Etherington-Smith says everyone is truly saddened and shocked. “Our thoughts and prayers are with Tom’s family at this really sad time,” he says.

Tom, whose home town is Kerikeri in Northland, competed up to intermediate level in eventing in New Zealand before deciding to concentrate on showjumping. However, after many years competing at grand prix level showjumping, including two successful years in Germany, he decided to make the change back to eventing in 2012.

Just this year he gained the ride on Tiny Clapham's young eventing horses, with considerable success at the lower level. He had high hopes of representing New Zealand at the top level of the sport.

British Eventing, ESNZ and the International Equestrian Federation will investigate the incident as will relevant UK authorities.

ESNZ and Tom’s family wish to thank NZ media outlets who respected the request to delay releasing Tom’s name publically until his close family were all informed of the tragedy.

Tom moved to England two years ago to pursue his eventing career. Based with the Eventers International team out of Abbots Ripton, Tom worked at Tiny Clapham's yard and was a well-known face on the British eventing circuit. An accomplished rider and eventer, he competed through the intermediate level of eventing before moving to Germany as a young adult to concentrate on show jumping. He competed up to Grand Prix before returning to his first love of eventing.

The international eventing community banded together today to protect Tom's identity until his family and friends could be notified of the accident. British Eventing and Eventing NZ both made official requests that individuals refrain from posting Tom's name on social media sites, and it says a lot about the integrity of eventers that the requests were largely respected. Unfortunately, various New Zealand news outlets released the name this afternoon prior to an official statement.

There are no words or ways to fully summarize or understand a tragedy of this nature. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all of Tom's family members, friends, fellow British and Kiwi riders who knew him, and his coworkers at the yard where he worked. It's clear Tom was very loved, and countless messages have been posted on Facebook and Twitter from riders expressing their shock and sadness, as well as sending their condolences to Tom's family. Rest in peace, Tom.

Go Eventing.


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