A flood of love, grief, disbelief after death of Botetourt County horsewoman

The Roanoke Valley equestrian community was left reeling last weekend as word spread that one of their brightest stars had died.

Tabitha Thompson, 39, of Fincastle, died Friday after she was hit by an SUV while riding her bike on Route 11 just north of Troutville.

Thompson was a longtime horsewoman and active in horse shows and other equestrian activities throughout the Roanoke Valley and beyond. For several years she organized and ran the popular Cross View Farm Horse Show series at Green Hill Equestrian Center, building a show that provided hundreds of local riders a chance to compete. The show series offered classes in many disciplines while keeping a fun, supportive atmosphere at the forefront of the competition.

She, herself, was an avid rider, competing in AQHA and APHA shows around the region including the APHA Eastern National Championship, the AQHA Level One Novice Championships, and the All-American Quarter Horse Congress with her bay mare Too Tuf To Be Fancy, who she called Lila.

View the gallery below to see the many photos that featured Thompson and her mare Lila in Roanoke Equestrian over the past several years.

Thompson’s is lovingly remembered for her penchant for helping others. An outpouring of love filled social media as friends, family, and acquaintances shared memories and utter disbelief at her passing. Many told stories of how she had made them not just better riders, but also better people. Others shared stories of Thompson’s generosity, of times she even offered her own horses or riding facilities to help others succeed. In stories of how her infectious positivity inspired so many, words such as “sweet,” “caring,” “kind,” and “selfless” were repeated again and again.

Thompson was well-known in other circles as well. She touched countless lives as a beloved nurse, working for many years at Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital. She had recently graduated from the nurse practitioners program at Duke University School of Nursing. She was also an avid runner, competing in the Blue Ridge Marathon and other running competitions.

The Silver Snaffle Horse Show series, set for April 9, July 2, Nov. 19 at Green Hill Park Equestrian Center, will be held in Thompson’s memory. A special showmanship challenge will honor Thompson’s love for that class, using the pattern that she performed at last year’s Quarter Horse Congress. For more information on how you can help support the show, click here.

Read Thompson’s obituary here.

In the news:

Solid Paint-bred entries stand out at APHA Eastern National Championship

Tabitha Thompson of Fincastle and her mare Too Tuf To Be Fancy.

Written by APHA News

Solid Paint-bred exhibitors are shining bright at the Eastern National Championships, held March 22–24 at the Virginia Horse Center in Lexington, Virginia. The inaugural National Championship boasted more than 100 per-judge entries across Open, Youth, Amateur and Amateur Walk-Trot Solid Paint-Bred divisions by Saturday afternoon. Preliminary entry reports for the show are more than 800 per judge.

With bountiful opportunities to compete, solid Paint-bred exhibitors like Tabitha Thompson, of Fincastle, Virginia, enjoyed demonstrating their horse’s versatility. Tabitha raised Too Tuf To Be Fancy, a 2012 bay solid mare by The Ultimate Fancy and out of Hosan Forties (QH) since she was a weanling. The duo demonstrated their versatility at the Eastern National Championship Show, competing in Amateur Solid Paint-Bred halter, showmanship, ranch, equitation and showmanship events.

“We’re here to do a little bit of everything,” Tabitha laughed. “I only live 30 minutes away, so coming here was a no-brainer. The show has been great; we’ve gotten a couple of trophies and a few placings. I’m pleased with how we’ve done!”

High interest and a strong regional community of active solid Paint-bred exhibitors led to expanded class offerings, Senior Director of APHA Events Holly Slaughter says.

“We had great enthusiasm and interest from solid Paint-bred owners in the area. After reviewing the large number of class requests and examining participation in the area, we were excited to offer a full slate of solid Paint-bred classes—including Solid Paint-Bred Amateur Walk-Trot,” Holly said. “We’re excited for the turnout, and we hope to continue to grow our solid Paint-bred classes at future National Championships.”

Youth exhibitor Maryann Johnson of Drewryville, Virginia, took to social media to encourage entries; a member of Rock Solid World Tour, a Facebook group dedicated to organizing and encouraging solid Paint-bred exhibitors across the country, Maryann and fellow exhibitors created a spreadsheet of their planned entries to share with others.

“Networking is huge,” she said. “The spreadsheet let others know who was coming and in what events, so that they could better decide if they should make the trip. We communicate heavily on Facebook to see who is coming, and it really works!”

Maryanne brought Zippos Sweet Te, a 2010 dun solid mare by Zippos Goldn Mover and out of Blues Cup Of Te (QH), to the Eastern National Championship Show. Though they’ve seen great success at regional APHA, 4-H and Open shows, Maryann says the cost and distance makes attending the APHA World Championship Shows difficult. The National Championship brought the prestige and excitement of a top-level show to her area, she says.

“This might be as close to a high-level show as we can get—and it’s right in our backyard!” she said. “The turnout has been great, too—it’s fun to compete against other Youth [in the Youth Solid Paint-Bred division]. We like to win, but we also like to have a lot of fun.”