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August 18, 2013

New Zealand Rider Fatally Injured At British Event

Officials at Equestrian Sports New Zealand confirmed that New Zealand rider Tom Gadsby, who was based in England, suffered a fatal fall on cross-country at the Somerford Park Horse Trials in Cheshire, England on Aug. 18. 

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

Gadsby was competing in a one-star division on The Drover when the accident happened at fence 4B. The 7-year-old skewbald gelding was not injured in the incident.

Gadsby's death has brought an outpouring 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 show jumper 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 said.

Gadsby, whose home town is Kerikeri in Northland, competed up to intermediate level in eventing in New Zealand before deciding to concentrate on show jumping. However, after many years competing at grand prix level show jumping, 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 levels. He had high hopes of representing New Zealand at the top level of the sport. British Eventing, ESNZ and the Federation Equéstré Internationale will investigate the incident as will relevant British authorities.