The final months of a devoted mum from Little Sutton who died in a tragic riding accident were ‘the happiest of her life’ after she achieved her childhood dream of owning her own horse.

In an emotional tribute, Stef Morrissey’s ‘devastated’ husband Gary described his wife of 11 years as a very ‘caring’ woman for whom ‘nothing was ever too much trouble’.

Thirty-eight-year-old Stef – who was mother to 17-year-old Keir, 14-year-old Morgan and step-daughters Laura and Abbey – sustained fatal head injuries after falling from her horse on Lester Lane in Broughton on December 4.

Ellesmere Port rider dies after fall from 'spooked' horse

Speaking to The Chronicle, Gary said: “She was very bubbly and fun, and she was always up for a laugh.

“If anyone was down she would be the one to keep them up.”

The professional pet-sitter was a passionate animal lover and rescued countless cats, dogs, chinchillas, sheep and turtles over the years.

Gary revealed that she was delighted to finally be able to buy a horse earlier this year.

“Ever since she was a child she wanted horses,” he said.

“So she scrimped and saved to buy a horse, about 10-years-old, which she could finally ride.

“Before she died, she was probably the happiest she had ever been in her life because she was absolutely made up.

“She went to the stables at Broad Oak Farm pretty much every day.”

The inquest opening into Stef’s death heard her horse may have been ‘spooked’.

A passing motorist told police he slowed his speed to pass the horse, which he then saw moving from side to side as though it was reacting to something.

But Gary said whatever happened on that fateful day, the horse brought Stef ‘a lot of happiness’ and she would want him to be cared for.

The weekend before she died, the family had visited the stables where Stef had taken great joy in showing her grandson Joseph the horses.

'Big heart'

Tributes to Stef have poured in on social media.

Kate Walker Cawley wrote on Facebook: “Beautiful inside and out, caring, compassionate and thoughtful.”

Julie Cheryl Waters posted: “Stef would put everybody else’s problems first because she had such a big heart. Caring, thoughtful, kind, well-loved and so missed.”

Stef’s funeral will be held at Blacon Crematorium on Friday (December 23).