Roberts joined the British Army as a trumpeter in 1914 and by the age of 16 was the youngest ever Certified Military Riding Instructor (known as a ‘Rough-Rider’) in the British Army. Throughout his career he proved especially adept at training young and difficult horses. After migrating to South Australia in 1925 and joining the South Australian Police Force, he completed service in the Middle East with the AIF. in 1940. After his return he was Instructor to the South Australian Mounted Police until his retirement in 1960.
Among his many other equestrian achievements, he conducted training schools in several states, was a founder of, and instructor with the Dressage Club of South Australia, a founder of and advisor to the SA Pony Club Association, and a judge at many horse shows around Australia.
In the 1970s when Tom could no longer ride or instruct classes because of his war injuries, he began to write, self-publishing four books in his ‘Horse Control’ series. His final book in the Horse Control series, Horse Control Reminiscences, was launched on his 84th birthday, and looks back on his life and his philosophy on horse psychology and training.
In 1982 Roberts received the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for his service to equestrian sport.
Tom Roberts died in 1989. A horse riding trail constructed in the Adelaide hills was named the Tom Roberts Horse Trail in his honour; the first section opened in 1993. His widow, Pat Roberts, edited and published a book based on Tom’s war diaries, called We Will Be Disappointed After (1995).