There’s nothing worse than when you are out horseriding and your horse gets spooked for some reason. It can lead to it bolting or an unplanned dismount for you as it shrugs you of its back in fear. If you are wearing an equestrian body protector, then you can reduce the chances of you hurting yourself when this happens.
Wearing a safety vest is pretty much standard protective gear that will save you from broken internal bones if you fall off your horse.
Below is a quick look at some of the best rated equestrian body protectors with links to getting them at discount prices.
Tipperary Equestrian Horseriding Eventing Vest
The Eventer Pro from Tipperary balances both protection and comfort to enhance a rider’s experience when eventing, dressage, or schooling. The Eventing Vest is SEI safety certified for shock and impact.
The Live Spine™ technology provides even more impact protection by flexing and matching the riders’ movements. To encourage agility, the torso is cut higher at the hip angle and lower at the back covering the tailbone and the shoulder component has been devised to tolerate maximum reach and rotation of the rider’s arms.
This vest uses patented Tectonic foam plating and 2 independent layers to create powerful protection – the two overlapping layers allow the vest to mould to the rider’s form leaving no gaps in the vest’s body. New buyer’s must note the vest is unlikely to immediately fit them well but will contour to their body once worn.
The Tipperary Equestrian Horse-Riding Eventing Vest is also equipped for cooling comfort and move with the rider so can be comfortably worn by riders throughout the summer season and underneath dressage jackets. Evolution Foam™ allows for air return circulation to keep the rider cool. The Eventer Pro has a Flex Lace Closure fit system which provides riders with a more customised fit allowing the vest to expand and contract. Riders can tighten the vest themselves using a drawstring clip.
The Eventer Pro’s design married sleek modern presentation and a more classic riding style will complement both Western and classic English style riding accessories. The design of the eventing vest also features a reflective trim around the edges of the vest to increase visibility and safety. With this design, wearers should be able to focus on the ride and not the equipment.
This vest is available in a range of colours – hunter green, navy blue and black – and several sizes including youth sizes.
Troy Lee Designs 3900 Ultra Protective Heavyweight Vest
This protection vest originally designed for motorbike riders is a great protection vest option for horse riders. The 3900 Ultra Heavyweight Vest offers an anatomical design with integrated protection zones, and the dense bio-foam material provides protection for the spine and other key areas of the back whilst allowing for ventilation and additional airflow.
This vest features Shock Doctor technology and is designed to have a neck brace integrated and is compatible with leading neck braces. Perfect for riders with a sustained injury to the neck.
The Troy Lee Designs 3900 Ultra Protective Heavyweight Vest is durable and features abrasion-resistant panels designed to protect riders. The wide neck opening and comfortable design make this vest very comfortable for the rider.
Suitable for more casual riders, especially those with a more alternative style. Because of the lack of fastenings, those looking to purchase this vest should consider the sizing carefully to ensure they get the right fit. The sizing guide on the Troy Lee website can prove to be a bit confusing, however, customer reviews can help you compare with other buyers.
Due to the fact, the Troy Lee Designs 3900 Ultra Protective Heavyweight Vest is not specifically designed for horse riders the price point is considerably lower than other protective vests on the market and offer a great alternative. It is worth noting that this vest is unsuitable for both everyday wear and Eventing.
This vest is not suitable for dressage or competition wear. This product has a 1-year manufacturer warranty. This design is only available in black, but both adult and youth sizing options are available.
Leatt Fusion 3.0 Vest
The Leatt Fusion 3.0 Vest’s design is primarily for motorcyclists but can also offer horse riders the perfect balance of comfort and protection. This vest has CE certification and is approved as individual protective equipment. Designed to give the wearer full protection and safety, across the body including the neck, chest, flank and shoulder.
A trauma surgeon and motorcycle racer, Dr Chris Leatt, invented the advanced neck chassis technology to offer rider’s the ultimate protection.
Designed to quickly stop and de-accelerate head-on impacts, this vest is incredibly strong and the first product on the market to combine a neck and torso protector for adults. The vest is both incredibly strong and durable, the neck brace is made of polyamide reinforced with fiberglass.
The vest is made from 3DF foam technology to create a comfortable and well vented upper body protector which can be worn during any season, including on top of cosy jumpers in the colder months. This design is for more casual riders only. The 3D sports design is incredibly easy to adjust to suit the rider and fit easily around the body whilst having a hard body shell.
The impact foam absorbs energy to dampen any hard knocks including falls from the saddle. The side entry design reduces gaping in front of the vest from the protective plate protecting the rider’s vulnerable chest area.
Contrary to its rigid appearance, the vest has an impressive level of flexibility and can be taken on and off with a push-button system. However, horse rider’s must be considerate of the weight of the product. At over 14 ounces this product is quite heavy and riders should be considerate of the horse’s welfare and be sure not to overload the animal.
The Leatt Fusion 3.0 Vest is unisex in design and comes in both black and white and size S/M, L/XL and XXL.
Champion Titanium Ti22 Body Protector
This vest is can be worn by riders for long periods of time, because of the innovative comfort and flexibility achieved through revolutionary SegTex construction. The unisex segmented style body protector has a minimum of 100 flexible sections which mould to the rider’s shape and move with them.
This Champion Titanium Ti22 Body Protector is bound to keep the rider safe and holds safety standard certification and conforms to BETA 2018 Level 3 Standards and EN13158:2018.
The design incorporates strong materials designed for heavy use including heavy duty YKK zips and military-grade outer mesh. It channels the airflow through a hole heat release system in the ultra-lightweight foam to keep riders cool throughout the warmer months. It combines this with a cool feel titanium coloured lining.
Perfect for long-distance riders looking for a protective layer that can be worn all day. Adjustable laces on the side allow for a close and comfortable fit. The Champion Titanium Ti22 Body Protector vest can be easily slipped on, zipped up for ease, and fits easily under a jacket for the colder months.
This vest can be used for loads of types of riding, including cross-country, eventing, show jumping, hunting and hacking. The Titanium Ti22 Body Protector is available in adult sizes S, M, L and XL as well as three choices of back length: short, regular, tall. Children’s sizes are also available.
This design is popular with children because of its comfort and ease. This vest can be used in conjunction with Champion Titanium Ti22 Shoulder Protection Pads. Colour options available are black or gunmetal.
Saddle Barn Tack Mutton Bustin Vest
The Saddle Barn Tack Mutton Bustin Vest is the perfect vest for Mutton Busters, providing just the right protection for the wild and action-packed event. Designed to prevent injury, the 600 Denier Cordora outer shell and high-density foam helps protect the body from any knocks or bumps the competitor may encounter.
The Velcro fasteners allow the vest to be fitted tightly around the sides and top of the shoulders for ultimate protection and comfort. These adjustments will also allow room for the young wearers to grow, so the vest is suitable for years to come.
The Saddle Barn Tack Mutton Bustin Vest is very durable and can be passed down through the generations of little mutton busters. Parents can place their trust with these gloves. Your child can be safe and look stylish in the ring with this vest. Saddle Barn is well-trusted rodeo equipment for a reason.
The American flag is the perfect feature for any proud Mutton Bustin American. This vest is available in a range of colours; black, pink and purple complete with logos and patches which is bound to please children. The vest can be customised with other patches so the mutton busters are free to express themselves.
This vest would also be suitable for younger horse rider’s providing them with both the protection and comfort they needed.
The Velcro fasteners allow riders to wear more substantial clothing underneath when the weather is colder. The durable design is perfect for younger riders that are more likely to be injured following a sudden dismount. The Saddle Barn Tack Mutton Bustin Vest is certainly worth a purchase.
Frequently Asked Questions about Horse Riding Protectors
Do Horse Riding Body Protectors Work?
If you have ever been on or near someone else on a horse, you have most likely experienced that moment of terror when the jockey seems to lose control. The horse moves too suddenly and the jockey stands great risk at being thrown down to the ground and potentially landing under the horse’s hooves. To combat this, jockeys began to wear body protectors for unexpected and often unfortunate dismounts.
While the idea of a protector is wonderful as nobody obviously wants anyone to sustain any more injuries than absolutely necessary, some have begun to question the protectors’ success in truly protecting the rider.
With most protective gear just being a sturdy and/or padded vest slipped over the shirt, it does not provide coverage over much of the body and the part it does provide it for just gives a small amount of cushioning. This has led to the debate to wonder if the gear is even worth it.
How Should a Horse-Riding Body Protector Fit?
As seen with most protective gear, horse-riding body protectors, no matter how effective they actually are, can not be effective at all if not properly fitted. User error is the most common diagnoses for equipment failure and to ensure that your body protector does its job, one should check the fitting properly.
Depending on the manufacturer will make a difference in the types of measurements needed. Almost all will need a measurement around the chest. To do so, grab a tape measure for body measurements or a rope and a standard measuring tape. Wrap the tape around your chest so that it is snug but not too tight. There should be room enough to stick one to two fingers in the tape but no more. This will ensure the most proper fitting of the gear.
Other measurements will require the same process but in different areas. Repeat the steps above for your natural waist, from the base of your neck to the base of your back, and for some manufacturers, even from the front of you natural waist to the back of your waist going over the shoulder. These measurements will be used to construct your vest and ensure a proper size.
Once the vest is in your possession, it would be wise to try it on before mounting the horse. Make sure that the protector is a sung fit but does not restrict any movement as this would pose a danger to the rider. The rider should also have plenty of room for lung expansion and proper breathing.
While a lot of vests have an adjustable waist, not all do, so make sure there is room in yours. If any of these needs are not the case, the best thing to do would be to send the protector back and get a new one with more correct measurements or a better manufacturer to keep the rider out of danger.
How Often Should You Replace Your Body Protector?
Body Protectors do have increased effectiveness when they are fitted properly. The next step in ensuring that they actually work to their full extent is to make sure they are in good condition.
Different vests will last longer for different riders according to how often they are used, how damaged they become during use, and how well they are taken care of between use. At most, a vest should be replaced around every four years. To get the full extent of that life span, here are a few tips on taking care of your body protector:
- Always check the body protector after a fall. Its job is to protect you and absorb whatever blow you would normally receive, because of this, it has the risk of sustaining damage. After a fall, the protector should be checked for dents. If the areas of the foam have not expanded back to its original shape within thirty minutes, then that part of the protector is damaged and should be replaced (or the whole riding protector entirely).
- Avoid buying second-hand equipment. Anytime equipment is used by someone else prior to you, it loses quality even if it is in the slightest amount. When dealing with safety equipment, however, no loss of quality should be considered too small to matter. The safest bet is to go with a new protector from a trustable manufacturer.
- Keep the protector in a dry and safe place. The protector is most likely made of foam which means it can be delicate to the environment. If the foam is in the heat too long it can easily distort and putting it into a damp environment can damage it and cause it to rot. Not to mention, foam is easy to tear so keep it away from any animals that could chew it or sharp objects that could tear it, which will hurt its effectiveness.
- Hang the protector up in its used shape. The protector performs best when it can stay as close to its original shape as possible. By hanging the protector up and zipping the body (fastening any other types of fasteners as well), this will give it a longer lifespan as it will hold its shape, and therefore its safety, for much longer (think of it like shoes and the expanders inside them).
- Store the protector in a warm environment. Most protectors are made out the material PVC nitrile foam, which is heat sensitive. If you have ever worn a protector, you have most likely noticed that the longer you have it on, the more comfortable it becomes. Keeping the protector comfortable and flexible gives you more movement and lets the vest do its job easier. To keep this consistent, storing the vest in a warm area will keep it flexible for immediate top conditioned use instead of having to wait for your body to warm it up in order for it to perform well.
- Replace your body protector when it is needed. The average time to replace the protector would be anywhere from three to five years of regular damage to the vest. If a lot of damage has been brought to the vest, then you may need to replace it sooner (when you see the foam is distorted and losing its properties). If you feel that there have not been a lot of damages at all, then push the vest to the limits of five years, but not past that as the foam has a lifespan for its true effectiveness.
What is a Level Three Body Protector?
A level three body protector is the highest level of body protection available in the rankings of horse-riding body protectors. The levels are ranked according to their ability to protect and what kind of riding or situation they should be used in accordingly.
The lowest level of body protectors is the level One body protector. This protector is extremely lightweight that allows the user to freely move about for extreme flexibility. The level one body protector is almost exclusively used by licensed and professional racing jockeys. To identify this level of body protector, one would look for the black label.
The middle level of body protectors is the level Two body protector. This protector provides a mix of extreme comfort and mobility and protection. Designed to be used in very low-risk situations, the level two body protector is mainly used by those looking for a quick and short ride. To identify this level of body protector, one would look for the brown label.
The highest level of body protector is the level Three body protector. This protector is hefty on the protection side and less focused on the idea of flexibility. Surprisingly, however, the protector still offers a great deal of mobility which makes it a very versatile protector. Due to its still present mobility, most riders will opt-in for a level three instead of a level two for the similar movement but added protection.
Riders in any skill level or type of riding can and do use a level three, making it the most common level of riding protectors. To identify this level of protector, one would look for the purple label.
Can You Wear a Body Protector in Dressage?
While there is no rule limiting or enforcing the use of body protectors either way during a dressage test, there are some things to consider about wearing one during the event.
Certain things like medical attention or special care for a rider should be a no-brainer that the rider should wear at least some type of protector. The other obvious call for using a protector would be on a young, unpredictable, unfamiliar, or untested horse. When riding a new horse one can never know what to expect, to combat this, the wise idea would be to wear a body protector just in case things turn wrong.
If neither of the above issues applies to the rider or to the horse, then it turns into a personal preference according to the rider’s performance. For some riders, a protector makes them feel stiff and uptight which will cause them to ride differently and affect their scoring by the judges (not to mention the protector itself would distract from the attractiveness of the show).
For other riders, a protector makes them feel relaxed, which allows them to take control of the horse easier and find a better flow in the movements. Whether you are one rider, or the other does not make you a better rider this is simply a matter of an individual’s safety.
If put on the first type of rider, it may even cause them to be distracted and not as in control, which could lead to an accident or injury that would not have happened otherwise.
If you are debating whether or not to wear a protector during dressage, it is recommended to have deep thought on how comfortable you are with it, how comfortable your horse it, what type of rider you are, and even talk to your riding coach about it if you have one.
How Do Air Jackets Work?
An air jacket is an extra preventative measure that can be implemented along with body protectors. The air jacket is supposed to expand similar to an airbag in a car before the rider hits the ground, which in theory should protect them from some extra, unnecessary damage.
The air jacket works through a mechanism inside the jacket and a cord. The string is attached to the horse’s saddle through the cord.
If the rider is to fall off, the cord is detached from the vest which activates the mechanism inside. Inside of the vest, the cord activates the trigger mechanism which releases air into the vest’s circulation chamber. The chamber surrounds the rider’s body while trying to stay away from the rider’s chest, so it does not create pressure and prevent breathing or make discomfort for the rider.
The vest can be a popular safety choice for those who can afford it as it is a very effective choice in protectors. The air adds great safety and without the air always present, it can be concealed by the rider.
Horse-riding protectors do have their good qualities and bad while some argue they do not even work. As they say, though, it is better to be safe than sorry, and you should definitely be safe in a riding protector (safer at least).
As long as the protector is not a victim to user error and is measured, picked, and cared for properly, it should do its job. The level three is recommended as it should do its job the best, and if that is not enough, you can opt up for an air jacket, it just might hurt the wallet more than the rider would be.
Whatever you decide to use, use it properly and safety will naturally come.