Every rider knows that falls are just part of the game. It's not a matter of whether you'll fall off, but when. Often, you'll stand up, shake it off, and get right back on the horse, but sometimes you really will be injured after a fall. So what are some signs that you should head to urgent care (or the ER) and get checked out after a fall?
You hit your head.
If you hit your head, you should absolutely get medical attention after a fall. Hopefully you were wearing a helmet that cushioned the blow, but there is still a risk of concussion. Symptoms of a concussion do not always show up right away, so don't assume that since you don't have a headache and are not confused, you don't have one. (Also, note that concussions do not always cause memory loss or a loss of consciousness.) Since untreated concussions can cause lasting brain damage, you need to have an MRI to rule out damage.
You snapped your neck.
Christopher Reeve, who played Superman, called a lot of attention to this type of injury in horseback riding. He fell and snapped his neck so badly that he was left paralyzed. Even if you can feel and move everything, you should head to urgent care if you feel your neck (or back) snap during a fall. You may have broken a vertebrae or pinched a nerve without realizing it, and this could lead to countless symptoms, from neck pain to death, later on if not diagnosed.
Something is swelling.
Sometimes you might twist an ankle, bang a knee a little, or bruise your shoulder during a fall. These are not all serious injuries. However, if the injured joint swells up promptly, you may have done more than just bruise it. You'll need a medical professional to check for breaks, sprains, and tendon strains. In the meantime, get some ice on the joint as this will help keep the swelling from getting too bad.
You have a deep cut or a large scrape.
If you manage to survive a fall with just a little scrape, that's great. But not all scrapes and cuts are mild. If you have a scrape that is more than an inch or two across, or if you have a deep cut (say, from hitting a jump cup on the way down), you should have a medical professional clean the wound out and assess it for the need for stitching.
Falls are a part of horseback riding. Untreated injuries should not be!