Essex-based hunting and showing enthusiast Rob Walker, 49, is in a critical but stable condition in the Royal London Hospital after sustaining serious spinal injuries in a rotational fall while out hunting.

The accident happened on Wednesday (18 January) when the horse he was riding – the former champion working hunter, Orbital – hit concealed wire in the top part of a hedge, somersaulted and landed heavily on Rob.

The Herts and Essex air ambulance was quickly on the scene and airlifted Rob to hospital, where he was temporarily placed in an induced coma. The horse was uninjured.

Originally from Worcestershire, Rob is also a popular figure on the showing circuit. He bred and formerly owned the successful hunter Bournebrook Golden Law, still the only horse to have won the ladies class at Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) three times, standing supreme there in 2005.

Latterly, with his fiancée Olivia Greig and her daughters, Harriet and Grace Chittenden, Rob has concentrated on hunting and often acts as amateur whip to the Essex Hunt. He is also a regular with the Essex Farmers and Union Hunt, and has taken part in inter-hunt team relay competitions.

Rob Walker out hunting with his fiancée Olivia Greig’s daughters Harriet and Grace Chittenden

“The love and support for Rob have been tremendous,” said Olivia. “We are both so very grateful for all the good wishes and practical help we have received.

“This journey will not be easy, but we will get through it.”

A justgiving page – with a “target” of £2,000 – set up by family friend Clare Tredgett to help Olivia with immediate costs and day-to-day expenses raised more than £8,100 in the first nine days.

“I’m incredibly grateful to Clare for setting up the fund – it means we can concentrate on Rob getting better and having him home with us,” added Olivia. “I am also extremely grateful to the air ambulance – if it hadn’t arrived when it did, I doubt Rob would still be alive.”