The mother of tragically killed equestrian Tom Gadsby will always treasure her last few days with her son in England.
Louise Gadsby spent a week travelling with her boy in Paris and London before the Somerford Park Horse Trials where the 26 year-old died in a fall on Sunday.
"I just thank God that I went over there and we had that time together," she says.
Mr Gadsby sustained fatal injuries when his skewbald gelding fell at the hurdle during the cross-country.
His proud mum says the accident halted a career that was starting to sky rocket.
"He was becoming really well-known really quickly and I just felt he'd finally got the chance to be where he wanted," she says.
Mrs Gadsby says her son aspired to be among the best and worked hard to achieve his goal.
"It's been his passion since he was a very little boy. He'd be 5 years old, out in the dark, brushing and plaiting, and packing up all the gear."
Mr Gadsby was raised at Pakaraka near Kerikeri and taken under the wing of horse breeder and Northland equestrian identity Claude Cook of Okaihau.
He intially rode with the Bay of Islands Pony Club and was a keen competitor and valued member at team events.
"He was always happy to help others and always ready to learn," Mr Cook says.
Mr Gadsby got a job with top Kiwi show jumper Katie McVean at Mystery Creek in Hamilton during his early 20s.
He went to Europe to focus on event riding.
Friend Debs Hill has posted a message to Mr Gadsby's Facebook page and says his death is a "huge loss to the world".
"The kindest rider I've ever seen sitting on a horse," she says.
"RIP to a truly lovely man."
Mr Gadsby was a man who was passionate about horse riding and Te Kauwhata-based eventing champion Donna Smith, 33, knows how strong that pull can be.
She is ranked among the top 10 in the world and has been on horses her whole life with the bumps, bruises and sprains to show for it.
Safety measures have improved over the years, Ms Smith says, "yet you never know what might happen".
"If you're going to fall off, you're going to fall off and you don't know what day it is or when it's going to be.
"But everyone falls and 99.9 per cent of the time you stand back up."
Equestrian Sports New Zealand chief executive Jim Ellis says Mr Gadsby was a "rising star".
He says the number of deaths in eventing has fallen in the past 20 years due to various safety measures and the toll is now about one life, worldwide, every two to three years.
British Eventing, Equestrian Sports New Zealand and the International Equestrian Federation will investigate Mr Gadsby's death as will relevant British authorities.
- © Fairfax NZ News