News & Blog

For the latest industry and case news

Understanding concussion in equestrian sports: a guide for riders

By Maria Dallas

Published In: Brain and Spinal Injury

Equestrian sports, while exhilarating and rewarding, carry inherent risks, with head injuries being among the most serious. Concussions, in particular, can have long-lasting effects on a rider’s health and wellbeing. Understanding the signs of concussion and the associated risks is crucial for all horse riders.

Photo of a young girl on horseback

Recently, the dangers of equestrian head injuries were brought to public attention by Princess Anne’s unfortunate accident, believed to have been caused by a horse. Few details are known, due to her sustained concussion, however medical staff say her injuries are consistent with potential impact from a horses legs or head.

Recognising the signs of concussion

are a type of traumatic brain injury caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head. It is often referred to as a mild head injury. Concussion can often be caused by falls, road traffic accidents, assaults and sporting accidents.

In equestrian sports, falls and collisions are common causes. Whilst mild head injuries often cause no long-term damage to the brain, they disrupt brain function and can last for a number of weeks.

Mild head injuries can cause a number of symptoms. Here are the key signs riders should look out for:

  • Headache or “pressure” in head - a persistent headache is one of the most common symptoms
  • Temporary loss of consciousness - this can happen immediately following the impact, although not always
  • Confusion or feeling “foggy” - riders may feel dazed and have difficulty thinking clearly
  • Dizziness or balance problems - feeling unsteady on your feet is a significant warning sign
  • Nausea or vomiting - these symptoms can occur shortly after the injury
  • Blurred or double vision - changes in vision are common indicators of a concussion
  • Sensitivity to light or noise - increased sensitivity can persist for days or even weeks
  • Memory problems - difficulty remembering the incident or vents before and after it. Post-traumatic amnesia usually lasts for 24 hours and can cause people to act strangely, confused or unable to remember recent events
  • Mood changes - irritability, sadness, or anxiety are also possible symptoms

If you or someone you know experience any of these symptoms after a fall or impact while riding, it’s crucial to seek medical attention immediately.

The injured individual should only return to the sport once medical clearance has been given. Return to riding guidelines can be found on the British Equestrian website .

The risks associated with concussion

should never be taken lightly. Here are some of the risks associated with this type of head injury:

Second impact syndrome - if a rider sustains a second concussion before the first one has fully healed, it can lead to severe brain swelling, permanent brain damage, or even death

Post-concussion syndrome - some individuals experience symptoms for weeks or months after the initial injury, including persistent headaches, dizziness, and difficulties

Cognitive impairment - repeated can lead to long-term issues with memory, concentration, and overall function

Emotional and psychological impact - can affect a person’s mood, leading to depression, anxiety, and other issues

Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) - repeated head injuries and blows can lead to CTE. This is a condition that slowly gets worse and may lead to dementia

Staying safe: precautionary measures

To minimise the risk of concussion while riding, consider the following safety measures:

Wear a helmet - always wear a well-fitted, safety-certified helmet. Replace your helmet after any significant impact, as its protective capacity may be compromised

Ride with caution - be aware of your surroundings and ride within your skill level. Avoid taking unnecessary risks, especially in challenging conditions

Training and preparation - ensure both you and your horse are adequately trained. Familiarise yourself with safe riding practices and emergency procedures

Regular health check-ups : keep up with regular medical check-ups and be vigilant about your health and wellbeing

Contact our specialist sports injury team

are a serious concern in equestrian sports, but with the right knowledge and precautions, riders can reduce their risk. Recognising the signs of concussion and understanding the associated risks are essential steps in protecting your health.

At Switalskis, we are dedicated to supporting riders through the challenges of injury recovery, offering compassionate and professional legal advice tailored to your unique circumstances.

If you or a loved one have suffered a concussion or any other injury while riding, contact us today at 01302 320621 or email to learn how we can help you secure the compensation you deserve.



Back to News & Blog
Share this post
Photo of Maria Dallas

Maria has been working in Personal Injury for 13 years.  She qualified as a Legal Executive in February 2019.

Chartered Legal Executive

News, views and information from us and the industry

Related posts

Contact us