THE moment a County Durham huntsman was thrown from his horse has reigned supreme in a national photography competition for the 'top tumble'.

Out of hundreds of photos sent in from hunts across the UK and Ireland, a sequence of South Durham Hunt chairman Barry Johnson and his horse, Carlo, falling with the Hurworth Hunt, won the Countryside Alliance Hunt Tumblers’ Club contest for the 2016-17 season.

Mr Johnson, of Shildon, has a self-confessed track record for getting caught up in crashes - which have included breaking his back while travelling at 136mph in his former life as a National Rally champion.

This time the rider escaped major injuries but suffered some broken ribs.

“It’s amazing that having an accident still blights my life," said Mr Johnson. "I had a rotational fall from the same horse three years ago – I was very lucky here. So with that background, this latest 'off' was any easy one.

"I rode as a child and only came back to horses after my rallying career ended, which must be something to do with adrenalin."

Mr Johnson attends events on a regular basis and will compete at intermediate level this year after qualifying two horses.

Speaking of the tumble captured by photographer Amy Fair in November at Borrowby, North Yorkshire, he added: "The set of rails where I had my tumble were nothing to worry about, however a horse jumped across in front of us and I think my horse, 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 okay and when we landed that’s when I realised I had broken some ribs - I broke my ribs due to my mobile phone being in my pocket.

"I retired there and then – this was a Saturday but I was out hunting with the Zetland on the Monday, albeit on pain killers. Six weeks later I finally got a good night’s sleep.”

Ms Fair, of Northallerton, is the official photographer for the Hurworth Hunt and has been snapping the organisation for the past seven seasons.

She said: "The sequence of images were taken on a Saturday that’s renowned for lots of jumping action and is always a popular day for visitors.

"I was in the middle of the country photographing the hedge jumping action and 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."