TRIBUTES have been paid to a “strong and passionate” man who died earlier this year when he fell off his horse while out riding with the Middleton Hunt.

Richard George Peter Mason, 68, of West Heslerton, was out with about 30 riders on a trail hunt in the late morning and early afternoon of February 25.

An inquest into his death, held at Harrogate Justice Centre on Thursday, was told that Mr Mason, who riding with the others on farmland near Rillington, was approaching a small fence when the horse refused to jump, and he was thrown forwards over the fence and onto the ground.

Jonathan Heath, assistant coroner for North Yorkshire, heard evidence from Richard’s son Tom, who was present on the day, as well as from Emma Baxter, a paramedic who attended the scene.

Ms Baxter said that when her ambulance got close they were given directions to the scene by a man on a quad bike.

She described efforts by medical teams and also the Great North Ambulance helicopter team - who landed shortly after - to keep Mr Mason alive, but he died at the scene.

A post-mortem examination was performed by Dr David Scoones, from James Cook Hospital in Middlesbrough.

He found that the cause of death was a cervical spinal chord injury.

Mr Heath recorded a conclusion of accidental death.

Referring to Mr Mason’s family, Mr Heath said: “I would like to offer them my sincere condolences for the loss of Richard.”

Richard was a husband, father and grandfather to two sons and two granddaughters.

Speaking after the inquest, Tom said his father was “an experienced horseman”.

He said: “Richard was a strong and passionate man who always lead from the front.

“He had a tough exterior but behind the tough exterior he was kind and compassionate especially with his family.

“Richard was a very passionate, proud farmer and a true Woldsman who was never happier than when he was at home on his farm in the Yorkshire Wolds.

“He loved to grow things, whether it was growing commercial crops on the farm or growing fruit and vegetables in his vegetable garden which was always immaculate.

“He was an excellent stockman whether it be cattle sheep or horses, his stock always looked exceptional.

“Richard’s main interests were farming, horses and shooting - his passion was hunting and following hounds as often as he could.”