John Tulloch, who was a major contributor to the sport of eventing and an eternally wise counsel to many, died on January 23, after a short illness, aged 83, at his home at Lockerbie in Scotland.
He saw the sport from all aspects and through many changes, as a rider, organiser, official, parent and grandparent — two of his three children, Andrew and the late Miranda, competed, as have his grandsons Thomas, Archie and Immy — and was a constant and charming presence, always with a spark of humour.
John competed at the highest level over two decades — in 1961, he was fifth at Badminton on Benjamin Bunny and seventh at Little Badminton on Botany Degree, and in 1983 he was 22nd on Bower Grit. He ran Lockerbie Horse Trials in Scotland for many years and was instrumental in helping to get Thirlestane Castle, home of the Scottish Championships, off the ground. In addition, he officiated as an FEI technical delegate, including at Blenheim and Burghley, where organisers were always reassured by his efficiency, deep knowledge and diplomacy.
John was elected onto the Horse Trials Committee, as it was then known, in 1973, and chaired the events, publicity and finance committees. He became chairman in 1991 of the Horse Trials Group and was subsequently chairman of the British Equestrian Federation (BEF) later in the 1990s at the crucial time when Eventing was becoming independent from the British Horse Society.
Nearer to home, where he ran the family farm and estate — he had originally trained as a chartered surveyor — he was chairman of the Dumfriesshire hounds and district commissioner of the Dumfriesshire branch of the Pony Club. He was still riding with the family up until last autumn.
Hugh Thomas, former Badminton director and BEF chairman, pays tribute: ‘Johnny was one of my oldest and best friends within the equestrian world. He was a real leader without being showy, tactful, charming, clear-sighted as to the future of the sport and a man of the greatest integrity.’
Mike Etherington-Smith, a former chief executive of British Eventing, adds: ‘Johnny was a rock-solid influence on the sport. We had many chats over the years and he was a great source of wisdom, but he was also quiet and unassuming with it. He was simply a lovely person.’
Our deepest sympathies go to his widow, Jean, to his sons Andrew and Richard, and to his stepsons Alister, Douglas and James.
All are welcome at a service of thanksgiving for John on February 8 at 12 noon at Crichton Memorial Church, Dumfries DG1 4ZZ.
Image: John Tulloch riding Bower Grit, Badminton Horse Trials 1984