No body protector can prevent serious injury in every situation, but they can increase your chances of staying alive and reduce the severity of injuries.
What to consider when buying your horse riding body protector
- It is essential that your body protector fits correctly – we recommend going to a reputable outlet where the body protector will be fitted, ideally by someone who has appropriate British Equestrian Trade Association (BETA) training.
- It’s important to think about how you will wear your body protector when you’re getting it fitted. For example, if you intend to wear it over a riding jacket, wear your jacket to your fitting.
- Most body protectors are designed to comply with EN13158 and a recognised BETA level standard. This standard encompasses three levels; we would always recommend riders to choose level three protectors as these offer the best protection and will meet the requirements for any equestrian discipline.
Air jackets attach to the saddle with a lanyard and are made with airbags which inflate when a mechanism is activated as the rider is thrown from the horse. However, they are still relatively new to the market and do not currently meet any recognised safety standards.
When worn alone, they offer little protection to the rider. Manufacturers state clearly that they should ideally be worn with a BETA Level three, EN13158 body protector. Air jackets work well for flat falls but offer limited, if any protection against direct kicks when falling or on the ground.
Hybrid versions are available, combining a body protector with an air jacket.
Body protector standards
Here are the current BHS Assessments and Events Body Protector Standards