It can happen to any equestrian: a sudden spook, a miscalculation at a jump, or any bump on the head might cause a concussion. Wearing an appropriate helmet can help prevent such an injury, but it’s important for everyone—parents, coaches, barn mates, and equestrians themselves—to be aware of concussion’s warning signs. Here’s a handy reference list that can help you identify a possible concussion—and take the appropriate actions.
What You Might Notice
- Can’t recall events prior to or after a fall
- Appears dazed or stunned
- Forgets an instruction or is confused by an assignment
- Moves clumsily
- Answers questions slowly
- Loses consciousness, even briefly
- Shows mood, behavior, or personality changes
What You Might Experience
- Headache or “pressure” in head
- Nausea or vomiting
- Balance problems or dizziness
- Double or blurred vision
- Sensitivity to light or noise
- Feeling sluggish, hazy, foggy, or groggy
- Confusion or concentration/memory problems
- “Feeling down” or not “feeling right”
What You Should Do
If you suspect someone has a concussion, take the following steps:
- Remove the rider from the horse, and do not allow him/her to remount
- Ensure the person is evaluated by an appropriate health care professional. Do not attempt to judge the injury’s seriousness yourself.
- Allow the athlete to return to practice or competition only with permission from the appropriate health care professional.
And always, always wear a helmet. It may not prevent a concussion, but can make it less severe.