South Durham Hunt chairman Barry Johnson has won the prize no one wants – the top tumble of the year.
The Countryside Alliance has named Mr Johnson and his horse Carlo’s fall – in which the rider broke ribs, but the horse was unhurt – as the tumble of the season.
The sequence of images, judged the best of hundreds of pictures sent in from across the UK and Ireland, was taken by Amy Fair.
Ms Fair is the official photographer of the Hurworth Hunt, the pack with which Mr Johnson was out on the day of his fall.
“The sequence of images was taken on a Saturday that’s renowned for lots of jumping action and is always a popular day for visitors,” she said.
“I nearly missed Barry and Carlo’s spectacular tumble; intently focused on the main field tackling a particularly inviting hedge, I heard a commotion and colourful language over my shoulder.
“I swung around just in time to capture Barry and Carlo flying through the air in this uniquely artistic combination. Fortunately, both horse and jockey walked away after their tumble.”
Mr Johnson said he broke his ribs in the fall as he fell on his mobile phone in his pocket.
“In a former life I was national rally champion and broke my back crashing while travelling at 136mph. Then I had a rotational fall from the same horse three years ago – I was very lucky here!”
Mr Johnson plans to event Carlo and another horse this season.
He added: “The set of rails where I had my tumble was nothing to worry about, but a horse jumped across in front of us and I think Carlo was looking at them.
“No harm came to Carlo, although we were both winded. When we got going again, I thought I would pop another hedge just to make sure he was OK and when we landed, I realised I had broken some ribs.
“I retired there and then – this was a Saturday but I was out hunting with the Zetland on the Monday, albeit on painkillers. Six weeks later I finally got a good night’s sleep.”
The competition was judged by Paul Graham of sponsor Pol Roger UK, Alexandra Henton from The Field magazine, eventer Harry Meade, and former H&H hunting editor Polly Portwin, head of the Countryside Alliance’s hunting campaign.
Polly said: “The winning image captures a classic hunting fall of which many will have had similar experiences. We are delighted that all of our tumblers – both equine and human – were safe after these falls and look forward to launching the series again for 2017-18 in association with Pol Roger.”
We take a look back through the video…
Across the country armies of eagle-eyed spotters are…
Highly commended tumblers were Dave White, who fell while out with the Kimblewick and was caught on camera by Greg Knight of Rural Shots Photography, and Jordan Jeffrey, who was out with the Cheshire Drag and captured by Al Johnston of Al Johnston Photography.
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