Passing of two popular NZ equestrian figures

Tiny White is flanked by ESNZ President Chris Hodson, left, and ESNZ Chief Executive Jim Ellis.
Pictured in 2012, Tiny White is flanked by then ESNZ President Chris Hodson, left, and ESNZ Chief Executive Jim Ellis.

New Zealand has lost two popular members of its equestrian community in recent weeks, with the passing of renowned New Zealand equestrian Tiny White, and former dressage patron Pam Gilmour.

White, born Helen Patricia Groome, died at Mary Doyle Life Care, Havelock North, on January 10  at the age of 95.

White held many positions in horse sports over the years and was patron and an honourary life member of Equestrian Sports New Zealand.

In the below audio interview, from 2012, White reflects on her equestrian life.

Exclusive interview by Chris Stafford Radio

She was the winner of the country’s first one-day-event in 1951, and won showjumping’s Lady Rider of the Year title at the 1964 Horse of the Year show on Madame Butterfly. In the 1970s, she won Rider of the Year in 1971 and 1973, and the Burkner Medal for the New Zealand Dressage Championship eight times. Among many other titles, she won the Trans-Tasman Trophy 1974 on Rigoletto.

As an official, White was the first New Zealander to be appointed to the FEI Horse Trials Panel. Other roles included international dressage judge, an examiner of judges, and selector.

White was awarded an OBE in the 2010 Queen’s Birthday Honours and in 2009 was inducted into the Horse of the Year Hall of Fame.

In 2019 Tiny was made an Honorary Life Member of ESNZ in recognition and appreciation for her outstanding service to equestrian sport in New Zealand. In 1995 she received the Pilmer Plate for her service to the NZ Equestrian Federation.

White was made patron of ESNZ in 2007, inducted into the Horse of the Year Hall of Fame in 2009, and was awarded an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday honours in 2010.

White was from a sporting family, with her father, trap shooter Ernie Groome, posthumously inducted into the New Zealand Clay Target Association’s Hall of Fame in 2011. Several of his great-grandchildren have followed in his footsteps, with Daniel and Simon White competing nationally in claybird shooting, and Mike Sime, who was a silver medalist representing New Zealand in South Africa last year.

Her daughter, Tinks Pottinger, won an eventing team bronze medal at the Seoul Olympic Games in 1988 alongside a host of national honours. Granddaughter Amanda is also following in both their footsteps as an eventer who has already ridden for New Zealand.

White is survived by her three children Neil, Ginny MacLeod, and Tinks Pottinger, and several grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

A lifetime’s love of horses

Pam Gilmour, a former patron of Dressage New Zealand, died at Rawhiti Estates in Auckland on January 18 at the age of 94.

Gilmour and her late husband, Gordon, donated the Rigoletto Trophy for the Grand Prix Freestyle competition at the Horse of the Year Show in recognition of Tiny White’s horse and the inspiration the combination was in the early days of Dressage in New Zealand.

In reporting on Gilmour’s passing, Equestian Sports New Zealand said she was “a true horsewoman with a sharp eye for a good horse and correct way of going in the dressage arena, Pam’s observations were always candid and exacting based on a huge knowledge gleaned over a lifetime’s love of horses.”

“To sit with Pam in the dressage tent at the Horse of the Year Show was always a treat. Her charm, sense of humour and infectious smile endeared her to the dressage and wider equestrian community.”

Pamela Elizabeth Gilmour is survived by her children, Sally and Jamie, and grandchildren Jessie, Sophie and Ryan.

Latest research and information from the horse world.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *