A hunt follower was horrifically injured when he fell from his horse - and was impaled on the horn of his hunting whip.

Tom Pitman, 38, was riding with the posh Beaufort Hunt when his horse Winston smashed through a gate and threw him off.

He landed on the handle of his whip, which punched a two-and-a-half in hole into his back below his shoulder blade.

Hunt secretary Nigel Maidment dialled 999 and Tom was airlifted to Frenchay Hospital in Bristol, where he was kept in overnight and discharged the following day.

The wound has been left open to drain and Tom, of Malmesbury is expect to make a full recovery. The horse suffered only minor cuts.

Tom is the son of Lieutenant-Colonel Hugh Pitman and his first wife Rosemary, who is now married to Camilla Parker Bowles' ex-husband Andrew.

The family are direct descendants of Sir Isaac Pitman, the inventor of shorthand.

Lt-Col Pitman, who was also following the hunt at the time, said: ''We are extremely grateful to the doctor, paramedic and pilot.''

The handles of hunting whips are traditionally made from stag horn and are used to open gates.

The incident happened last Saturday after the hunt set off on its first meeting of the season from Badminton House.