There is no doubt that horse riding is a risky pursuit. If you have been riding long enough you are likely to have experienced at least one unplanned dismount in your time. In terms of protection a good horse riding helmet is a must. If you are still looking for a bit more protection or if engaged in a higher risk type of riding, then you should definitely consider buying a horse riding body protector.
A Horse riding back protector is also known as a back protector or an equestrian safety vests and the terms are often used interchangeably. Even though back protectors have been available for some time, improving their safety qualities has been slow.
Today, wearing a safety vest is required for participation in certain events. Several US States have required jockeys to wear a safety vest since 1996. Also, in 1996, the U.S. Equestrian Federation and U.S. Eventing Association made back protectors mandatory for the cross country phase of eventing. Many pony clubs, including the United States Pony Club, require safety vest use when jumping any type of cross country fence.
Like riding helmets, a back protector can be submitted to testing to acquire an official safety standard certification. In the US, this is the ASTM. In the UK, it is the BETA standard. Unfortunately, unlike the UK where a back protector that meets the official standard is required, the US only recommends that an ASTM standard vest be worn.
Best Horse Riding Body Protector
Before reading our review it important to know that there are lost of different types of back protectors. The best horse riding body protector for you depends on a number of factors such as the type of riding you are doing and how much protection you require. For the purpose of this review we have looked at the most popular types of horse riding back protectors that can be worn for general riding
All these back protectors are designed to provide shock absorption and impact reduction in the event of a fall. We have reviewed each item on the list under the criteria of Protection, Comfort, and Value.
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UNISTRENGH Equestrian Vest Professional Safety
The Unistrength Professional Safety Vest is a polyester vest that is a popular budget option for many equestrians . It is a zippered vest that can be laced up on the side. This makes it easy to adjust to allow for a more comfortable fitting.
Unistrength do not specialize in equestrian wear but do have a number of other safety ware products in their range. The vest comes in a range of sizes includes including sizes for teens, children, men, and women. Many vests struggle to get the balance between safety and comfort. If the vest is too restricted it can be hard to maneuver and you are less likely to wear it consistently. Thankfully this vest has a scalloped lower front which makes the vest feel less restricted. The only negative point is that some of the materials used are not the same quality as other branded vests. Overall if you are looking for a reasonably priced vest that will give you solid protection then you will not go far wrong with this option.
- Comfortable Fit
- Easy to adjust
- Good value
- Zipper quality not very good
Ovation Adult Comfortflex Protector Vest
Ovation are an equestrian equipment specialist brand based in the USA. They are best known for their helmets, protective vests, and boots but also stock a wide range of other protective equipment. The Ovation Comfortflex is their most popular vest and comes in a range of sizes for men and women. It is the only vest on this list that is SEI-ASTM certified. Although the other vests on the list provide good protection you can rest assured that this vest meets the stan
The vest itself is comfortable and is a comfortable non restrictive fit that does not compromise the riders ability in the saddle. It is easy to use and has adjustable side panels which make it easy to fit into. The quality of the materials used is top quality. For example the zipper is made by zipper specialist YKK® and is built to last. The vest has reflective piping front and back which is useful if you regularly ride in low light conditions. The vest is more expensive than some of the other budget options but it is the best product on the list in terms of quality and safety. If you can afford it then I definitely recommend getting this vest.
- Meets top safety standards
- Comfortable fitting and easy to adjust
- It is built to last
- More expensive than other options
KAIKAIXIN Unisex Equestrian Protective Vest
The KAIKAIXIN Unisex Equestrian Protective Vest is another budget option that has become popular in recent times. It is made from polyester and comes in a range of sizes for kids and adults. The company selling this product do not specialize in equestrian wear and you are likely to find the same/similar vests under different brand names if you shop around. This fact does not mean that it is a bad product but if your number one priory is safety then you go with an equestrian brand that also has a safety certified protector. However in terms of budget options this vest will not be beaten.
The vest itself is very comfortable and easy to adjust. The padding does offer some protection and will hopefully help your confidence if you ride with a fear of falling off.
- Cheap Generic option
- Very comfortable and not as restrictive as other branded vests
- Material quality not very high
- Does not offer same protection as a certified vest
Tipperary Eventer Vest
Tipperary claim to have developed the first ever Equestrian Body protector 30 years ago. Since then the equestrian world has evolved significantly and Tipperary have become one of the best known brands in equestrian protective clothing.
This particular product is aimed at people that are likely to be engaged in higher risk equestrian sports such as eventing and jumping. The Eventer vest comes with Tipperary’s patented FLEX construction and is quite mobile considering the protection that it offers.
The vest is angled at the front and has an extended back that covers the tailbone. The shell is covered in a lightweight breathable Durasport material that helps to preserve the material and add to the lifespan of the product. Overall this vest provides superior protection and is perfect for anyone that is considering riding that may be considered higher risk.
- Offers significant protection
- Soft roll collar for added comfort
- Comfortable and well made
- More restricted than lighter weight and budget options
MonkeyJack Horse Riding Equestrian Vest
The MonkeyJack equestrian vest is another budget option that may be of interest to riders looking to add a little bit of protection. The vest is made of EVA and is breathable and easy to adjust. It comes in a range of sizes for adults and children. The vest has a scalloped lower front which means the rider is less restricted when moving.
In terms of protection the vest offers similar protection to other budget models on the list. However if you want the extra safety you should consider a branded option. Another issue is that some of the materials used are inferior and the zip in particular is light to last a very long time if used regularly. The price point for this vest is attractive and is likely to attract riders who are looking to get a bit more confidence by using a simple safety vest.
- Nice comfortable fit and easy adjust
- Limited protectiob
- Poor quality Zipper
Types of Horse Riding Body Protector
Today, you will find a variety of back protectors available. In the past few years, brands have made an effort to improve foam quality, comfort, and bulkiness. Horse riding body protectors differ in a number of ways. The main way they differ is in the amount of protection that is offered. Some protectors such as eventing vests may have a hard shell exterior and extra protection along the spine. Other protectors
Traditional Back Protector
Traditional back protectors provide protection in the form of padding. They usually have
There can be a large variety depending on the brand and model of back protector that you select.
Many eventing riders now wear both a traditional back protector with an air vest over it. In eventing, a rider must wear both and not an air jacket on its own. Air vests have become more popular in the jumper ring, as riders find them more comfortable. There are even specially designed show jackets that fit over the air vest, keeping the classic show look. Conclusive evidence about the protection an air vest provides isn’t available, as they have yet to be subjected to testing and safety certifications.
Horse Riding Air Vests
The most recent addition to equestrian body protection is the air vest. Unlike the fixed protection a traditional horse riding bidy protector offers, an air vest works differently. What is appealing about air vests is that they are just like putting on a lightweight piece of clothing and don’t give the rider a restricted feeling. Air vests contain a small canister that has a lanyard. This lanyard clips onto the saddle. When a rider is thrown from a horse, the lanyard breaks free, triggering the vest to inflate.
Air vests should not be considered body protectors. Their design comes from motorcycle protective gear. These vests are designed to help protect in the event of a flat fall. They will not protect a rider when a horse steps on them or when they hit an object that can cause penetration. They do, however, help extend the protection offered by a traditional horse riding body protector. Because an air vest is not activated at all times, protection of other areas of the upper body can be provided, including the hips, tail bone, collar bone, and neck.
The most modern back protectors required for Jockey’s offer the highest level of protection. You will notice that some vests aim to increase comfort, but to do this protection around your ribs or chest is sacrificed.
Sizing and Fit
The most important factors when selecting a horse riding body protector is quality and fit. When choosing a safety vest, it is essential you get fitted by a qualified fitter. The variety in styles available means that modern body protectors are available for many different body shapes. Incorrect fit can increase discomfort, lessen the protective ability, and even increase the risk of injury.
What does a horse riding body protector do?
The purpose of a horse riding bock protector is to lessen the severity of injuries that could result from a fall. When you fall, a great deal of energy is created. Depending on how a rider falls, this can lead to severe injury. A safety vest can help lessen the force this energy has on the body. It can also help protect the ribs and internal organs. One of its strongest safety components is protection from penetrative injuries, such as a horse stepping on the rider. Essentially, they absorb some of the impact.
When should you wear one?
Whether you should wear a horse riding back protector is often down to personal preference, unless, of course, it’s required. Some riders choose to wear a safety vest in certain circumstances. For example, when riding a young or strange horse, riding outside of the arena, or when jumping. If you want to ensure you have the highest possible amount of safety when riding, then it is a good idea to wear one. A fall could happen, even when riding a known, usually safe horse. For example, your horse could trip and fall, sending you to the ground and possibly stepping on you.
In the United States, ASTM is responsible for issuing safety standards for back protectors. In the UK, and Europe BETA issues standards. Not all body protectors have a certified safety standard. When purchasing a vest, it is better to always choose a model that has been certified. It will give you peace of mind that the equipment meets certain criteria.
It is important to understand the limits of a body protector. Calling them back protectors is slightly misleading. It will not provide complete, direct protection of the spine. It will not protect you from a serious crush injury, such as a horse falling on top of you. And it will not protect from falls that create severe torsion or flexion.
According to several studies, it was found that body protectors do not offer a significant reduction in the chances of injury to the upper body. Another study that looked at the type of riding and fall. It found that injuries didn’t decrease when show jumping or riding on the flat. However, it did find that there was some decrease in injury severity in cross-country falls. As a result of this study, in 2019, the US Pony Club required body protectors to be worn for jumping any cross-country type fence, not just in competition.
The most important thing to remember when deciding on safety vest use is getting one professionally fitted. Never buy a second hand horse riding body protector. A fall could cause hidden damage that could lessen the vest’s effectiveness. It is also important to replace the body protector every three to five years, even if you’ve never had a fall. The material used in the vest degrades over time and protection reduces. Choosing to wear one is a personal choice, but wearing one won’t do any harm, and it can reduce the risk of a severe injury.