A RIDER was left paralysed after falling from his horse in the Cotswolds, an inquest has heard.

Former amateur jockey Christopher Bennett died following a broken neck after his horse slipped while out hunting in Poulton, near Fairford.

Coroner David Masters recorded a verdict of accidental death at the inquest in Trowbridge on Friday.

Keen sportsman Mr Bennett, 62, who was retired and lived with his wife Alison in Marlborough, was the former managing director of a computer software company.

He was riding with the Vale of The White Horse Hunt (VWH) at Paton's Copse near Fairford on November 11 when his horse slipped and fell.

Speaking at the inquest, fellow huntsman and friend Nicholas Lykke-Dahn said they had been cantering and Mr Bennett was stood up in the stirrups.

His horse slipped and stumbled and Mr Bennett was thrown from his horse. He landed on the back of his head several yards in front of his horse.

The coroner head how Mr Lykke-Dahn and other riders in the hunt immediately began to give the injured huntsman first aid.

Mr Bennett was taken to Great Western Hospital in Swindon by air ambulance where he died eight days later.

Mr Lykke-Dahn said it was not raining but the ground surface was wet and muddy. He said Mr Bennett was an accomplished rider who was wearing a riding hat at the time.

"We were cantering down the side of the Paton's Copse and Christopher Bennett was five or ten metres in front of me," he said.

"His horse slipped and instead of just stumbling one leg caught the other and Christopher was catapulted out of the saddle and landed on his head.

"The horse went down like a sack of potatoes onto its front right shoulder. Because we were cantering he was standing in the stirrups."

Another friend and fellow huntsman Martin Belsham did not see the fall but said the grass strip they were riding along was "good going". He said: "This could have happened to any of us and was not a result of rider error."

In a statement Mrs Bennett said her husband had received catastrophic injuries in the fall and remained unconscious on the journey to the hospital and was only able to communicate by moving his eyes when he came around.

She added: "He was a fit and active man with many other pursuits. He was just very unlucky."