Fortunately, body protectors and their air-jacket cousins are now widely worn and highly regarded – you can’t put a price on safety.
With horse riding being potentially 20 times more dangerous than motor cycling, and the majority of riding injuries occurring through falls, it makes sense to protect the rider’s body. Unsurprisingly, the more often we ride, the more the risk factors for accidents increase. Although body protectors are required across country in the discipline of eventing, they are optional for adults in other disciplines. These include show jumping, horse driving trials, showing, endurance, polo and dressage. You should always visit a BETA-trained retailer to be fitted for a body protector.
There are two main types of body protector – tabard (over the head), and front opening. Safety equipment bears the CE mark showing compliance with the appropriate European safety standard. The BETA 2009 Body Protector Standard meets all the requirements of the European standard (EN 13158:2009) and is recommended. It encompasses three levels, denoted by a colour-coded label:
1. Level 1 (black label) – the lowest level of protection for licensed jockeys.
2. Level 2 (brown label) – suitable for low risk situations – not including jumping.
3. Level 3 (purple label) – appropriate for general riding, eventing and working with horses.
4. There is a separate BETA Standard for shoulder protectors, which protect the end of the collar bone. Eventing research shows that these reduce the risk of breaking the collarbone by up to 80%.
According to BETA (www.beta-uk.org), most body protectors use two layers of heat-sensitive PVC Nitrile foams. (Body Protectors should be replaced every three to five years, depending on use, as the foam’s impact absorption properties may decline.)
Body protectors soften and mould to the contours of the body with the rider’s body heat. The foam is often perforated to increase flexibility, reduce weight and increase and improve airflow. Under no circumstances should body protector foam be subjected to excessive heat, e.g. from a radiator.
Always check your body protector for dents immediately after a fall; the foam will expand back to its original shape around 30 minutes after impact, but won’t provide the same protection in the dented area; this is because the functionality to absorb impact in that area declines. Some manufacturers do supply replacement panels, however.
Champion ZipAir body protector – www.championhats.co.uk
This zip-front body protector is super-lightweight, and combines protection with supreme flexibility and comfort – it also boasts a Polygiene antibacterial lining. A long-backed version is available.
Kanteq Kan body protector – www.kanteq.com
This product contains moulded foam panels that allow for the female form. The material, advanced Polyurethane High Resiliency Foam, is flexible and comfortable, and helps absorb energy.
Rodney Powell Elite Series 7 MK2 – www.rodneypowell.co.uk
This is the best-selling zip-closure body armour from Rodney Powell, now in its sixth generation. The lightweight Elite features the X2ESP back system, offering enhanced spinal protection.
Airowear Women’s Outlyne body protector – www.airowear.co.uk
The Outlyne combines maximum protection and unrestrictive movement with perfect fit and flexibility. It fits the female body shape and boasts ‘UltraFlex’ technology that moulds to body contours.
Racesafe RS2010 – www.racesafe.co.uk
The RS2010 features up to seventy independently hinged foam sections that allow movement and circulate air. It aims to enable riders to perform consistently at their peak, moulding to individual body shape.
Air jackets are commonly worn as an addition to a body protector. A body protector offers permanent, static protection, while an air vest provides temporary, dynamic protection once the garment is inflated. Some manufacturers now offer body protector/air jacket hybrids.
Champion EVO-FLEX Body Protector
Extremely light weight and superbly flexible, the EVO-FLEX takes body protector comfort and style to a whole new level. Incorporating Champion’s revolutionary Cut-Flex® and HingeTek® technologies which maximise the flexibility of the EVO-FLEX’s ultra-light weight foam, the bottom of the protector moulds into the nape of the back, for unparalleled comfort and fit when you are in the saddle. A sculpted lower profile further increase comfort without compromising on safety. EVO-FLEX also incorporates a high-tech Polygiene treated inner lining, with its powerful anti-bacterial and anti-odour properties helping to keep it fresher for longer.
- 9 sizes from XS Child to XL Adult.
- Price – £63.95 – £121.95 depending on size.
Champion Vanguard and Freedom body protectors
The Champion Freedom and Vanguard body protectors incorporate superlative flexibility into a design that offers a fit especially tailored for the female figure. A darted and tailored bust design, a slim and sculptured underarm for a close contact fit and a broad shoulder panel for enhanced weight distribution all work together to offer unrivalled comfort while maximising protection for lady riders.
- 6 sizes from Girls Large to Women’s X-tra Large and 3 different back lengths.
- Vanguard £79.90 – £126.90; Freedom £95.90 – £145.90 depending on size.
For more information see www.championhats.co.uk, email firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 0113 270 7000