A rotational fall has claimed the life of 26-year-old New Zealand eventer Tom Gadsby at the Somerford Park International Horse Trials in Cheshire, Britain.
Gadsby was riding The Drover, a horse owned by Tiny Clapham, in one of the one-star classes at Somerford in Congleton when the accident happened.
The event was abandoned after the accident, which occurred on the fourth fence of the cross-country.
A rotational fall is when the horse hits the obstacle and somersaults over it.
North West Ambulance Service said it had been called to the venue at 14:20 BST.
ESNZ Chief Executive Jim Ellis said: “On behalf of ESNZ members I express our sincerest condolences to Tom’s family and close friends.”
“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.
“This is a tragic day for our sport and thoughts of everyone in the NZ equestrian community are with the rider’s family at this terrible time.”
“He was an experienced rider, had moved over to the UK within the last two years to compete and further his eventing career,” Ellis said.
Ellis 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 said everyone in the sport was saddened and shocked.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with Tom’s family at this really sad time,” he said.
Tom, whose home town is Kerikeri in Northland, competed up to intermediate level in eventing in New Zealand before concentrating on showjumping. But after several 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 near Huntingdon in Cambridgeshire, 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 said they wished to thank NZ media outlets who respected the request to delay releasing Tom’s name publicly until his close family were all informed of the tragedy.
An official at the event told Horsetalk.co.nz that he saw The Drover being led back to the marshaling area following the accident, and saw no apparent injuries.
The Drover is a seven-year-old, 16hh coloured gelding by Colour Cruise. He was previously ridden by Nini French and Tiny Clapham, and had three earlier starts with Gadsby.
Olympic riders from several countries were attending the trials at the River Dane valley site.
The event had started on Friday and was due to finish on Sunday.