Concussion Awareness

Riding Helmet Safety

Here's why you need your ASTM/SEI approved helmet for every ride:

An injured brain does not heal like a broken bone. Even seemingly insignificant head injuries can have serious long-term effects.

  • Horseback riding carries a higher injury rate per hour of exposure than downhill ski racing, football, hang-gliding and motorcycle racing.
  • US Medical Examiner reports show that 60% or more of horse-related deaths are caused by head injuries. Helmets can reduce this possibility by 70-80%.
  • Each year approximately 70,000 people are treated in emergency rooms because of equestrian related activities.
  • The American Medical Equestrian Association calculates that ASTM/SEI approved helmets have reduced all riding-related head injuries by 30% and severe head injuries by 50%.
  • Repeated trauma to the head, even when minimal, can cause cumulative damage to the brain. Each new accident expands the original damage and the brain cannot recover 100% from injury.
  • Riders under the age of 18 formerly had the highest head injury rate. Expanded use of ASTM/SEI helmets among this age group has shifted the highest head injury rate to those people ages 22-35.
  • Non-ASTM/SEI certified helmets offer no protection whatsoever and are strictly for cosmetic purposes.
  • Head injuries are responsible for more than 60% of horse-related deaths.
  • Head injuries are the most common reason for horse-related hospital admissions.

While there is no concussion-proof helmet, an equestrian helmet can help protect riders from serious brain or head injury. Learn what to look for, and what to avoid when picking out a helmet for yourself, your child or teen.

Helmet Fact Sheet (pdf). 

Riding Helmet Safety. University of Connecticut webpage

Don't be Hard-headed! Wear a helmet Equine Guelph infosheet

Concussions: Signs, Symptoms, and Helmet Safety Video for USEF sponsored by Charles Owen

Equestrian helmets are designed to protect a rider’s head in two ways. First they reduce penetration by sharp objects (the protective shell), and second absorb some of the force, giving the head a “cushion” thus increasing stopping distance (the foam padding). All models of ASTM/SEI approved equestrian helmets are tested in a lab to ensure that they are up to regulated safety standards. You can find the SEI certification symbol on each approved helmet. 

Helmets intended for equestrian activities come in many sizes and although generally use the same protective foam, are built differently than other sporting helmets.  They cover more area of a rider’s head and are designed for specifications of riding a horse, taking into account possible terrain, speeds and objects to which a rider could be subjected. They are built to skid rather than stick over rough terrain and to absorb impacts created by sharp objects such as a horse hoof or sharp rock. They are also designed to be secured properly to a rider’s head and be light enough to not interfere with a rider’s balance. Other sporting helmets such as a bicycle helmet or motorcycle helmet either don’t provide adequate head coverage, or they are too heavy and bulky to be used for riding. 

Helmet Safety for Mental Health 

After a landmark study investigating mental health in concussed riders, riding helmet manufacturer Charles Owen reveals staggering findings.

Charles Owen has long been a name synonymous with safety and research in the equestrian industry. In 2021, the riding helmet manufacturer investigated mental health in riders for the first time in its history. The landmark study, conducted by University of Brighton MSc student, Charlotte Ricca, involved over a thousand riders.

“We were amazed by the amount of riders willing to participate, as the study required them to share quite sensitive information about their mental health,” Ricca said. “Their willingness to share has enabled us to uncover a serious issue facing the equestrian industry today.” Read the entire article here

 

Concussion Awareness

Concussions can occur while participating in any sport or recreational activity. Since the circumstances under which a concussion can be sustained are so varied, it’s important for all coaches, parents, and riders to be aware of the signs, symptoms, and what to do if a concussion occurs. MHC is committed to increasing education, awareness, and have established protocols to assist you in gaining the knowledge and skills required for the safety of equestrian athletes. Let's all work together to ensure a safe sport environment.

Concussion awareness and the implementation of appropriate concussion protocols are key elements in ensuring safety in equestrian sport. Sport Manitoba offers an overview of how concussions occur, the symptoms and signs to watch for. To visit their site, click here.

 

Equestrian Canada Concussion Protocols

Equestrian Canada (EC) was one of the first national sport bodies in Canada to implement official, sport-specific guidelines on return to sport protocols for athlete concussions. To see the complete guidelines, click here.

EC Concussion Protocols FAQs

EC Return to Sport form

 

What is a Concussion?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines a concussion as:

A type of traumatic brain injury (TBI) caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or by a hit to the body that causes the head and brain to move rapidly back and forth. This sudden movement can cause the brain to bounce around or twist in the skull, stretching and damaging the brain cells and creating chemical changes in the brain.

Signs and symptoms of a concussion

A concussion is a brain injury that can’t be seen on routine X-rays, CT scans or MRIs. It affects the way a person may think and remember things, and can cause a variety of symptoms. Any blow to the head, face or neck, or a blow to the body that jars your head, could cause a concussion.

Physical

  • Headache
  • Pressure in the head
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Blurred vision
  • Sensitivity to light or sound
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Balance problems
  • Feeling tired or low energy
  • Drowsiness
  • “Don’t feel right”

Cognitive

  • Not thinking clearly
  • Feeling slowed down
  • Feeling like “in a fog”
  • Problems concentrating
  • Memory problems

Emotional

  • Easily upset or angered
  • Sadness
  • Nervous or anxious
  • Feeling more emotional

Sleep-related

  • Sleeping more or less than usual
  • Having a hard time falling asleep

What to do if you suspect a concussion

In all suspected cases of concussion, the person should stop the activity right away. Continuing increases their risk of more severe, longer-lasting concussion symptoms, as well as increases their risk of other injury.

Anyone with a suspected concussion should be checked out by a medical doctor.

Red flags

  • Neck pain or tenderness
  • Double vision
  • Weakness or tingling in arms or legs
  • Severe or increasing headache
  • Seizure or convulsion
  • Loss of consciousness (knocked out)
  • Deteriorating conscious state
  • Vomiting more than once
  • Increasingly restless, agitated or combative
  • Growing confusion

If any red flag symptoms are present, call an ambulance right away. These may be signs of a more serious injury.

Concussion Education & Resources

 The following pdf documents provide good information and templates for your use.

Concussion Recognition Tool

Pre-season Concussion Education Infosheet

Return to Sport Strategy (Parachute)

Medical Clearance Letter

Medical Assessment Letter

 

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CONTACT US

Manitoba Horse Council Office
145 Pacific Avenue
Winnipeg, MB, R3B 2Z6

Diane David - Executive Director
Phone: (204) 925-5719
Email: [email protected]

Kylee Tonita - Administrator, Coaching, Officials & Events
Phone: (204) 925-5718
Email: [email protected]

Kelly Roe - Manager, Equestrian Facility
Phone: (204) 799-5941 phone and text (April to Oct)