Eventing Nation: Remembering Tom Gadsby

Lissa Green pens a heartwrenching tribute to Tom Gadsby, the 26-year-old New Zealand eventer who was fatally injured at an event in England on Sunday.

EN guest blogger Lissa Green had the privilege of being based with Tom Gadsby over the winter. The international eventing community continues to mourn the loss of Tom, who passed away Sunday in a rotational fall at Somerford Park in England. I asked Lissa to write a tribute piece with some of her favorite memories of Tom. I hope her beautiful contribution touches your heart as much as it did mine. Rest in peace, Tom. –Jenni Autry

Top: Tom Gadsby. Photo from Tom's facebook page.

From Lissa:

No matter how many times the question is asked, you will never be told an answer. No one will ever know why it was Tom Gadsby’s time to leave. The only comfort we have is that he was doing what he loved.

I was lucky enough to be based at the same yard as Tom over some of the winter and became real friends. Neither of us was a morning a person — a simple grunt would suffice — and slowly we became more chatty throughout the day, perhaps too chatty by the end!

Tom’s coats had to be a highlight — more suited for the North Pole than for England — a true Kiwi!  Our taste in film did not always match, we once went to watch the final “Twilight” in the cinema, both Missy (who owned the property with her mother and brothers), and I came out thinking how dreadful it was, and before we could say anything he burst into praise about how amazing it was and retold every detail, even though we had just seen the movie with him!

Tom had a gift with horses; he had an incredible amount of feel which enabled him to be talented, unusually, in all three phases.  An extremely calm and understanding approach, horses immediately trusted and went well for him.

For someone who lived on a yard, he was immaculate — not a hair would be out of place on either him or the horse. He would suit up for McDonald’s if he could. He was a hard worker, not coming in until sometimes past 8 at night if it meant he could get everything could be finished –  as long as he was back for “Hollyoaks” on E4+1, then he was happy!

Those that knew him well and had broken his sometimes shy barrier met a guy that was one of the kindest, most humble and down to earth people you could hope to encounter. He was extremely empathetic and approachable, always knowing when something was wrong and how to make you laugh. He would give you as good as you gave him when taking the mickey, with his sharp wit it was difficult to get 'one up on him'. Along with all these qualities he was also particularly reliable; the Vernon's, who he worked for previous to Tiny Clapham said, “He was devoted to the horses and loved all our animals, we could completely depend on him. He was the most trustworthy person.” He sometimes took it to the extreme:  The Vernons had a chicken that Tom particularly fell for,  all of its friends had been eaten by the fox and he felt so sorry for it that he brought it into the house and left the light on for it in case it was scared of the dark (it was subsequently eaten in daylight).

One of Tom’s favorite songs was “Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy)” – you would hear this blaring from the speaker system in the indoor arena daily and as soon as you walked in he would ask, “Have you heard this…..!!!” With a look of sheer joy and excitement on his face, haha yes Tom, same answer as yesterday, he got away with it, as it was a very good song!

Tom was a spirited 26 year old with the world at his feet and never failed to impress people who were lucky enough to meet him. The equestrian world is in mourning, devastated that Tom has been taken from us all too soon. It is a waste of such a special and talented guy with a huge heart. You will be sorely missed and never forgotten. One comfort is that he was immensely happy he was when this tragedy occurred, earlier he had sent an an email saying these exact words: “I absolutely love it here. I truly don’t think I have ever been this happy!”

Rest in peace, Tom.