Tributes have been paid to an equestrian centre owner who died following a fall out hunting yesterday (26 October).

Claire Lowe, who had worked as a constable with Police Service Northern Ireland (PSNI), was out with the North Down in the New Line area of Ballygowan when the tragic accident happened.

It is reported the 39-year-old fell while jumping and died shortly afterwards of her injuries.

A spokesman for the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service said a rapid response paramedic was called to the incident at around 3.20pm.

Carol Mitchell, secretary of the North Down Hunt, confirmed Claire had been out with the pack at its opening meet of the season.

“It was a freak accident and the thoughts of everyone are with Claire’s family and friends during this very difficult time,” she said.

“Claire was an experienced rider who enjoyed her hunting and it really is just a terrible tragedy.”

PSNI superintendent Sean Wright said: “Claire was an experienced and professional police officer with six years’ service.”

“Claire was in the prime of her life. We all knew of her love for horses and for her sport but we also knew her for being a committed police officer who found challenge and reward in serving the local community and in keeping people safe throughout the Lisburn and Castlereagh district.

“Claire’s untimely death has caused shock among her friends and colleagues across PSNI. She will be very much missed by all of us and her loss will be deeply felt for a long time to come.

“Our thoughts are with Claire’s family and friends at this tragic and difficult time.”

One tribute on social media said: “What a beautiful person — you touched the lives of all who crossed your path. A very sad day for the horse world. Thoughts and prayers are with all loved ones at this sad time xx.”

Friend Mary Ann Johnson posted her thoughts on social media last night, shortly after the news broke: “The whole equestrian community must be in complete shock tonight having heard the devastating news of the loss of Claire today,” she wrote.

“The nicest, most genuine person we had the pleasure to meet, will be sadly missed. Total shock and thinking of Claire’s family at this very sad time.”