An Infograph EVERY Barn Should Have: Concussion Protocol

Do you know how to identify a flushed and embarrassed post-fall rider from a dazed and concussed one? Follow this chart to keep you and your barnmates safe.


Photo: Fetlock Photos, courtesy of Alice Hirst.

If you’ve been in the business long enough (you know, a week or so) you’ve either heard about someone’s terrible fall, witnessed a terrible fall, or experienced a terrible fall. Ideally, it will be at a facility around the corner from an emergency room, or at a show with EMTs on standby or AT LEAST someone who knows what to do more than you, but the ideal is rarely the reality.

Concussions are a common reality of this sport, and knowing how to identify one and get immediate medical attention for your barnmate could save them from having another serious accident, long-term side effects, and yes, even losing their life. (See cases like Michael Schumaker and Natasha Richardson!)

The infograph below covers the first initial step-by-step process that officials and parents use on the sidelines of other full-contact sports such as football, soccer, and boxing — from peewees to professionals — for determining the seriousness of a blow to the head. It is NOT meant to replace seeing a doctor or getting professional medical care in an emergency; just a useful starting tool in the event of trouble.


Concussion Protocol Infograph by Horse Nation



Finally, if your barnmate passes the test with flying colors and insists on sticking around for chores or even more riding, do your best to keep an eye on them and continue to monitor their mood, behavior, balance and verbal queues over the next hour or more. Some symptoms may take time to manifest, and any backslide in the protocol should be cause for immediate followup with a medical professional.

Be safe, wear your brain bucket, and go riding!


More helpful dialogue on the concussion protocol available at and the Mayo Clinic’s concussion page


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