As someone who has taken more than my fair share of falls, two of which resulting in concussions (one of which being relatively severe), I would say that the helmet that fits you the best is the one that provides the most protection. Obviously, there are exceptions to this (including that old hunt cap that has been molded to your head with wear), but if your helmet fits you well and meets current ATSM/SEI safety standards, and is undamaged, you are probably going to be safe enough riding in it.
As for OP, I think your trainer has a point. Take it easy until you feel up to par. If your doctor has advised that you rest your brain, then it can't hurt to take a little break from riding until you feel mentally and physically well. The long term health of your brain is, to my mind, more important than skipping a few rides.
I was knocked unconscious seven years ago in a bad fall. The horse bolted, so I am grateful I don't remember the accident because I might have quit riding altogether. The neurosurgeon was anti-horse. He had made it a condition of his marriage that his wife give up riding. So maybe he was being overly cautious when he told me that I couldn't risk another concussion for three months, but that was his advice.
Take a long break from riding.
A helmet saved my life.
2016 goal: learn to ride like TheHorseProblem, er, a barn rat!
Also beware the effects of a delayed concussion as well. Unfortunately it's very hard to diagnose and it took a lot of doctor time to actually get an answer.
I went through that last year with my husband and don't wish it on anyone. His horse went up and over on him while jump schooling. He ended up between his horse and the jump wing and cracked his helmet (well it was MY helmet he couldn't find his) as well. He drove home and was perfectly fine for about a week.
Then the foggy memory set in. And the heachaches. And the really foul behavior sometimes because he simply couldn't remember what he was saying or doing. Constant headaches which the doctor first just blamed on side effect of warfarin that hes on. It was actually quite scary. It was like a completely different person had taken over him.
I won't get back on a horse until the foggy memory and headaches to away. Sometimes it's a few days sometimes a few weeks. I've already had brain trauma in a serious way once. I don't need to mess it up anymore.
Jumping in here just because I haven't seen it mentioned on this thread. Congrats to OP for ditching the used up helmet, but be sure you cut the straps off when you do it. It won't work any better for the person who rescues it than it will for the person who whacked it, and the rescuer ( recycler? ) may think that it's just fine...
* What you release is what you teach * Don't be distracted by unwanted behavior* Whoever waits the longest is the teacher. Van Hargis
I had a few riding injuries over the decades and in my experience doctors don't know what riding is about and that's the main reason they don't tell you not to ride. I had a few incidences where it would have been better not to start as early as I did but then again, most phycisians think riders just sit on a horse and have no idea of the movement and motion. And - even though I was not "afraid", my body automatically reacted to any wrong step my horse too for a few weeks and it took time to be "relaxed" again. Factor this in when you ride your horse as to how it might react if you get a bit tight.
Please know that head injuries are CUMULATIVE! You never fully repair the damage done, and adding another concussion on top of a previous one does additional damage. Concussions should NEVER be taken lightly! For example, you can sustain a slow bleed that does not present any symptoms for a few days to even weeks before it is detected. The end result could be devastating.
Doctors suggest that you take a pre-concussion base line test if you compete in any sports where head injuries are a possibility, or in the case of riding horses, a good possibility. Findings can then be compared to post concussion test results.
I sustained a concussion in December while removing my horse's blanket. I *think* I got headbutted, but we'll never know for sure. I never lost consciousnesses, I was too clean to have fallen down in the hay with my sweater on, but I lost all account of the previous 30 minutes through the next three hours. It took me months to feel normal and even longer to trust my judgment. I also sustained a substantial facial laceration that went through my entire upper lip that required internal and external stitches, and still have my neck worked on by my osteopath. I know that under normal circumstances not many people would be wearing a helmet to take their horses blanket off, but it serves to prove that even the most reliable horses, in the most mundane situations can severely injure a person.
I am a very accomplished rider, have had many falls, etc on horses, but never an injury from a horse this bad before. Being a Pony Clubber I always wore my helmet, but after moving to a hot climate became more lax about it. But after my accident and having experienced such a life altering injury, I wear one EVERY time I get on a horse. I was LUCKY there wasn't more damage done.
Wear a helmet, it just may save your life some day. The alternative isn't so good.
This thread begins with news of a fatal head injury, but it's one of the frankest discussions I've ever read on here about concussions.
Please, please read page 5 if nothing else.
Good reading for everyone, thanks for the reference. I've never been frightened before but now I'm thinking that we should have a CPR class at the barn and that all the barn help should get better education. The guy who came to get me actually pulled me to my feet by my arms.
I remember thinking that I just wanted to lay there for a few more minutes but he was so worried and I didn't want to upset him further.
Madeline ... cutting off straps would have been a good idea. Too late, but I'll keep it in mind.
Roni ... that was my first thought about getting on again. It's quite likely that my imbalance was more upsetting to my horse than what initially spooked her which makes her a bit of a challenge for an amateur who sometimes lets her mind wander. It's a delight to watch my trainer on her, so there IS that. And we're going on a little holiday to a friend's barn that was supposed to be lots of trail riding/seeing the world, but even if it's not as much fun for me, there's still value in hand-walking instead of being on if I'm not feeling solid by then.
The gal whose place I'm going to, though, will not wear a helmet. I cringe at the idea of her falling and ME not doing the right thing. (Another reason GPS would be helpful ... telling someone where we are if we're not able to move.)
You do not need to lose consciousness to have a serious concussion. Your CT can be normal and you still have damage. Many long term studies from the pro football concussions are showing the long term bad effects of concussions, especially if you sustain a second one within 6 months. I had one and was told not to work for a month and not to ride for at least 6 months. I couldn't remember 90 days of my life. I thought what are the odds of a second one so soon when at that point I was riding 2 horses several times a week and hadn't had such an injury in 20 years. Of course, I had a second one in 4 months. I still get vertigo if I turn my head a certain way.Please restrain yourself and definitely wear a helmet. Approved helmets may not stop a concussion, but they help. the brain takes a while to heal and you can't see the injury like a broken bone. I guess you can tell I am a physician. wish I had paid better attention to it at the time.
I recieved what I thought was a mild concussion in January after doing from horse to headstand. In fact, I felt fine immediately after the fall - I drove to work. But a few hours later, the symptoms began. No biggy, I drove home, just to be on the safe side.
The next day I headed in to work, where I began losing my vision. Greeatt. That was enough to send me to the doctor.
I spent the next two weeks doing literally nothing - I either lay on the floor and let my rabbit hop around me, or slept.
I attempted to go back to work and once again, lost my vision. Back to the doctor. Another MONTH off of work, and I had to drop my university courses, pushing back my graduation.
Now? I still get symptoms if I move too quickly. I've had a pretty much constant headache since January. I am still forgetful. It's not fun. Now imagine if I hadn't taken the time off? I don't even want to think about it.
Your brain is more important than riding. Your horse will survive without you.
And please, talk to your employer as well. You may not be able to get time off, but I bet they will be understanding.
OP - I suffered a concussion a couple of months ago that was pretty severe. I ended up telling my manager for the simple reason that I was so flakey during meetings, I would be talking and then completely forget my point and get flustered or use incorrect words (i.e. hand versus foot). He was totally understanding and I felt much better because at least he wasn't thinking that I'd lost marbles for no reason (theoretically anyway). Even though I still can't remember anything before, during or after the fall, the short-term memory recall issues have steadily improved. I stopped riding for about 4 weeks.
It is hasn't been mentioned already - Charles Owen and Tipperary have policies about giving a discount for a new helmet if you purchased yours within a certain amount of time (I think it's 3 years from CO and 1 year from Tipperary) - you send the damaged one back for them to study.
To answer your questions:
My coach, a fellow student, and I have all had concussions within the past 12 months. We were all wearing helmets; we were all doing "jumping" but had our falls on the flat unrelated to any jump. This is my first direct experience with concussions - have been riding for over 20 years.
Coach's horse tripped and rolled - she was almost thrown clear but no idea if she directly hit her head or not. She has had previous concussions. She is still feeling effects (forgetfulness, using the wrong words, more easily distracted) over a year later.
I have not had previous concussions (that were diagnosed, anyway), and have always had a helmet on when falling off in the past. I did not lose consciousness and someone was there with me when I fell (horse slipped at the trot). I took about 7 days off work (concussion on a Wed. and I returned to work 2 weeks later on Monday). I was told to rest, and I did for the first couple of days - I was awake for an hour or two, nap, repeat. I was slowly able to increase the amount of time I was awake, and increase my "thinking tasks" such as conversations, reading, computer/TV. Bright light and noise really bothered me and I spent a lot of time in dark quiet rooms.
My employer was very understanding and let me work as much as I could then go home.
The first week I only worked an hour to two hours. The second week it was 2-3 hours. The third week I could do about 2-3 hours, break at lunch, then another 1-2 hours. By the fourth week I was putting in a full day. However, this entire time, it took all my energy just to do this. I would be exhausted after getting home and would rest for up to 2-3 hours before doing anything else.
I wanted to ride, and waited 2 weeks post-concussion to do so. I was warned not to have a second concussion within 6 months. I chose to ride, deciding that life is short and the odds were that I would be more likely to have another concussion being in a car accident than riding. Who actually knows though. Saying it out loud makes that sound stupid, and I'm sure others would think it was. Anyway, I had someone else ride my horse the first time to make sure he was quiet. I started just doing walk/trot in the indoor, for 10 minutes, and built up from there. I prioritized my employment for my energy/focus. After a month I was riding more regularly, but I had a scare (just a typical horse moment) and decided I didn't want to do anything "risky" (jumping, schooling difficult movements which might cause resistance in the horses) unless I was doing it in a lesson.
Sort of luckily for me, by this point it was late September and I didn't have any showing plans so I was able to just adjust my schedule and get back to riding more seriously in Nov/Dec/Jan.
It is now almost 10 months later and I still have occasional effects - usually things like saying or typing the wrong word. I also find my recall/memory is poorer than it used to be. I have to write things down so I don't forget them.
The friend who had a concussion fell when her horse slipped at the canter and fell heavily - she was thrown clear but with a it was a hard landing. It was about 2 months ago, she was unconscious for several minutes. She had completely different symptoms. No memory loss, not tired and not bothered by lights/noise. However she "lost" the gains she had made in her riding skills over the couple of months prior to the fall. She more easily gets lost doing jumping courses and is a stride or two behind in her corrections.
You never know what kind of obsessive compulsive crazy person you are until another person imitates your behaviour at a three-day. --Gry2Yng
I was wearing an Ovation when I fell, not my CO ... for which I was glad because I've only had my CO for a couple of months and really loff it. Tho ironically, it's a "crash hat" (big, bulky, eventer-style) but the most comfortable under $500 helmet for hot weather!
Anywhoo, I really do appreciate everyone's attention and hear the message loud and clear. (Look down to "Similar Threads" and see how many there are!)
I took one sick day and worked from home a bit and then took a vacation day because I hadn't gotten prior approval for sick day and didn't realize I was going to be worthless until the afternoon. My employer does what it is necessary to be in compliance with laws.
I am seeing my chiro tomorrow and will go back to my regular doctor at the beginning of July for a follow up.
My Mom wants to get me a safety vest for trail riding. I'm ambivalent about the idea.
My first horse, when I first started riding, bolted and I guess I fell off. I didn't wear a helmet, because western riders don't wear helmets. I have no memory of the event. I still don't remember the entire day leading up to the event. When I "woke", I didn't know I had a brother or father. My mom said I'd been awake and talking the entire time, but I don't remember. It was scary suddenly finding myself sitting in our living room and not knowing anything... it all came back within minutes, but it was like my entire life was wiped out when I first woke up.
I had bad headaches for a long time, memory loss, dizziness, and irritability. It took months before I felt close to normal again.
I have never ridden without a helmet since. I've fallen off, or been bucked off, just about everything and a helmet has saved my head numerous times. I've gone through a lot of helmets. ** I'm not a bad rider, I just like problem horses.
In 2005, I was jumping and going through a double line with 2 strides inbetween. I lost my balance on the 2nd fence and came off, over the neck. I hit my head - but didn't realize I had. I got back on - jumped again - did some flat work and went home. 3 hours later - I started having visual floaters and felt a bit nauseated. DH took me to the ER - CT scan done - and everything looked fine. Doctor said I could ride again...DH said NO WAY. That's when I switched to dressage (although - couldn't find anywhere to ride/train on the east coast of NC at the time...so didn't ride again until 2010).
The day after I brought my goober home, I rode him (December, 2011). 20 minutes into the ride - he bolted and started a series of bucks (rodeo type - high in the air - you are never going to sit it, type). I came off and hit my tailbone, along with a big thud to my head. I scooted over to the edge of the arena while another lady grabbed Paddy. I hit my head quite hard...and it required me to take a good portion of 5-7 minutes to REMIND myself where I was, that I had just bought Paddy the day before, that he was at the barn, that I was riding, that I fell off, etc. I got back on about 20 minutes later and just walked. I didn't ride again for a few weeks (worked him in hand - gained trust).
Just a few weeks ago - Paddy decided to bolt again (hadn't done it in a while). I lost my seat and I ditched myself. I landed on harder ground than I expected...knocked the wind out of me...and about 5 minutes later, after I had gotten back on (on the lunge line) - realized that I had hit my head, as I was seeing boomerang type visual effects out of my right eye. I finished 10 minutes on the lunge, then got off. About 15 minutes later - the visual effects were gone. I took myself to the doc-in-the-box that evening and everything checked out. The doctor said to be careful...but didn't restrict my riding.
What it comes down to, honestly - is knowing HOW to fall...and being prepared, if at all possible. My DH has taught me a great deal about falling, how to tuck the body and protect the head. Of course - the sport we participate in is dangerous...and we all need to be aware of our surroundings and have a great understanding of our equine partners.
I've had 2 serious concussions and afterwards you could actually squeeze the helmet like an accordion. The concussion was severe, but I would really have hated for just my head to take all that contact if it did that to the helmet.
Most companies will offer you a discount if you send the helmet back. They are constantly doing testing and learn a lot from helmets used during falls. It saves you money and helps them with research to keep all of us safer in the future.
Whatever brand you get, as long as it is ASTM/SEI stamped, it has been thoroughly tested to meet safety standards.
Ovation does have a helmet replacement policy. I think it's something like getting a new one for half price (but you have to send the crashed one back and it has to be within 3 years of purchase...save those receipts!
The only thing the government needs to solve all of its problems is a Council of Common Sense.