An important piece of kit you should bring with you when horseback riding is a body protector for protection. Along with iconic riding hats and exceptional gloves, body protectors provide essential safety protection that could save lives by helping prevent serious injuries from happening.
Modern body protectors feature numerous amenities, including breathable foam padding, adjustable back length and comfortable fit. Furthermore, shoulder guards reduce the risk of collar bone break which could occur in high level cross country competitions.
What is a body protector?
Body protectors (or back protectors, body armour) are essential safety wear to protect riders in the event of falling off a horse, designed to absorb impact forces experienced when they land. Some competitions require them as required equipment; more riders than ever before report that these safety wear pieces help increase confidence when hacking out or schooling over fences.
Modern body protectors are typically constructed of lightweight foam that is flexible yet comfortable, featuring elasticated and breathable mesh lining for enhanced comfort. Fastened at the front with zip, sliding buckle, clip or lace fastenings and Velcro shoulder adjustments; many models also include rip tabs or drawstrings to adjust waist sizes or chest measurements precisely.
Some models come equipped with optional shoulder protectors designed to defend scapulars and ends of collar bones – two areas responsible for 22% of all equestrian injuries that require hospital treatment. Research into eventing has demonstrated that wearing these can significantly lower risk of collar bone breaks by up to 80%! They come with multiple color choices so riders can personalise the look, while our current stock meets BETA Level 3 certification to provide maximum protection for riders of every discipline.
How do body protectors work?
No matter the riding discipline, horse or rider size, body protectors are an invaluable investment that can prevent serious injuries caused by falls or kicks from the horse. Made of heat-sensitive PVC nitrile foam that compresses upon impact to absorb its force while moulding to your shape for increased comfort, these protectors make life more bearable for everyone involved in horseback riding.
These straps are specifically tailored to fit tightly around the torso over lightweight base layers of clothing and come equipped with buckles or rip tabs for fine-tuning waist and chest sizes. Achieving a proper fit is key as this allows heat from your body to penetrate the foam, softening and expanding it over time. Proper fitting will also ensure that back length doesn’t interfere with seating positions in the saddle.
Once every three to five years is best for optimal protection as foam degrades over time. When purchasing new body protectors it is always advisable to visit a BETA-trained retailer (indicated by their BETA Safety Certificate displayed in-store) for a personalised fitting to ensure maximum effectiveness of protection from their body protector. Second hand or used protectors should be avoided as they could contain hidden damage that compromise their level of protection.
What are the current body protector standards?
Body protectors aren’t just mandatory at competitions; increasingly more riders opt to use them daily from pole work and jumping training to happy hacks. Their primary function is absorbing impact from falls from your horse, potentially decreasing your risk of fractured collarbones or soft tissue injuries.
There is an impressive range of body protectors available today, from traditional designs to lightweight options that allow for comfort while riding. Many have mesh linings to keep riders cool and dry during their journey.
BETA body protectors come in three levels of protection; Level 1 offers minimal coverage and should only be worn by licensed jockeys while racing, while levels 2-4 provide less-than-usual levels that could still prove useful for riding low risk horses such as roads or jumping situations without crossing roads; levels 3 are suitable for general riding activities like eventing competitions as well as working with horses in general.
VIPA body protectors are manufactured and tested according to EN13158:2018 Standard for Rider Body Protectors; samples are regularly re-tested by Human Impact Engineering of Sydney Australia in order to maintain consistent shock absorbing foam quality and quality manufacturing processes. This test standard outlines minimum performance criteria, shock attenuation tests and the extent and form of protective material used – essential criteria when purchasing protective gear from VIPA.
Do I need a body protector?
Falling from your horse is one of the primary concerns for riders. Wearing a body protector that meets current safety standards will provide peace of mind when riding, whether that means eventing, training over fences, or breaking in new horses – whatever the activity, a body protector will offer invaluable protection should something go amis during an encounter with your mount.
Body protectors provide protection from impact injuries in the rib cage, chest, and back areas. Designed to fit close to the body while worn under outer garments such as polo shirts or light sweaters. Flexible yet lightweight to allow freedom of movement when riding horses; many models feature drawstring waist adjustability or rip tabs to fine-tune waist and chest sizes; instantly inflatable by C02 cartridge when the rider and horse separate – offering extra ground protection!
Shoulder protectors can also serve to defend scapulars and ends of collar bones from injury; research shows they’re effective in preventing up to 80% of such incidents.
Check your body protector after each use to make sure it remains in top shape. Check for any dents in the foam; any caused by falls or kicks from horses should disappear within 30 minutes if any have occurred. Furthermore, body protectors should always be stored in an uncluttered, dry environment to preserve their shape and keep looking new for as long as possible.