Rider Killed In Horse Trials Fall

Rider dies after accident at horse trial event
Rider dies after accident at horse trial event

A young rider who died after falling from his horse during an eventing competition has been named as Tom Gadsby.

The 26-year-old, from New Zealand, was riding on the cross country course at Somerford Park International Horse Trials in Congleton, Cheshire when he was fatally injured. The event was later abandoned.

Fellow event riders paid tribute to him, one describing him as a "very special guy with a huge heart".

Mr Gadsby was based with international eventer Tiny Clapham near Huntingdon in Cambridgeshire and had been competing in the UK since last year, a statement on the Equestrian Sports New Zealand (ESNZ) website said.

He was competing in a one star class on board The Drover, a seven-year-old skewbald gelding, when the accident happened at one of the course fences at about 2.20pm yesterday. His horse was uninjured.

Cheshire Police said officers were called at 3pm to a report of a rider having fallen from his horse, and a spokesman said he was pronounced dead at the scene in "what appears to be a tragic accident".

Mike Etherington-Smith, chief executive of British Eventing, the sport's governing body, said people were shocked and saddened at Mr Gadsby's death.

He said: "Our thoughts and prayers are with Tom's family at this really sad time."

Jim Ellis, chief executive of ESNZ, said the whole equestrian community was shocked 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 as well as the officials and medical staff who assisted Mr Gadsby after his fall.

According to Somerford Park's website, Olympic riders from several countries were due to attend the weekend-long event at the River Dane valley site.

Presenter Clare Balding wrote of her shock at the rider's death on Twitter, calling it "devastating news" and "just awful".

Tributes to the rider have been paid by others from the eventing world.

Event rider Ginny Howe wrote on Twitter: "Absolutely devastated to hear the news from @somerfordpark . I just can't believe it. Thoughts go out to all friends and family."

Rider Charlotte Tyson tweeted: "Such sad news from @somerfordpark today. Make the most of life u never know what's round the corner. Thoughts r with all connections RIP X X."

Irish equestrian competitor Aoife Clark wrote: "Such sad news from Somerford - just awful. Thoughts are with family and friends."

Fellow rider Lissa Green said on the site: "Still in utter shock to hear the tragic news at Somerford Park. A very special guy with a huge heart. You will be sorely missed."

International event rider Emily Baldwin wrote: "Horrific news from Somerford. Once again it's a reminder of how precious this life is and how real the risks are in our wonderful sport."

Eventing Worldwide, a news service for the sport, said on their Facebook page: "Today marks a very sad day for eventing after a rider was killed in the CIC at Somerford Park. Our thoughts go to their family and friends."

Mr Gadsby was from Kerikeri, about three hours north of Auckland. He competed for many years at grand prix-level showjumping, including two years in Germany, before changing back to eventing last year, and hoped to compete for New Zealand, ESNZ said.

British Eventing, ESNZ and the International Equestrian Federation will investigate the incident.