Guide to Selecting the Best Horse Riding Body Protector

Published: 12th January 2009
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When choosing a body protector, there are certain factors that should be considered;

• What discipline will the rider be undertaking when wearing it?

• What are the hazards that the rider may become subject to?

It is the nature of the hazards and the potential risks that the rider may come across that determines the level of protection required. There are three protection levels determined by the European Union's Regulations that cater for any riders needs.

o Level 1 - Black Level

This is lower level impact protection, usually only worn by licensed jockeys when racing.

o Level 2 - Brown Level

This is a lower than normal protection level for use in low risk situations only. No rider should choose this level of protection if they will be;

- Riding on hard surfaces and/or roads,

- Jumping,

- Riding young, spooky or nervous horses

- In a situation above their capabilities

o Level 3 - Purple Label

Body protectors with this level of protection are suitable for riders in competitions and for normal horse riding. Purple Label protection aims to prevent minor bruising, reduce soft tissue injuries and in some cases can help prevent some rib fractures.

The European Union Standard EN 13158:2000 is met by the BETA 2000 Standard. This is the standard to which body protectors today are produced. This standard is subject to continuous review. Manufacturers re-test their garments to ensure the consistency in quality of their products and the individual components that they are made of.

If the foam of a body protector is damaged in any way the garment should be replaced as the protection is impaired. Every 3 years body protectors should be replaced.

When fitting a body protector it is vital that the correct size is chosen. This can be determined by measuring the riders

• Waist

• Chest

• Front to back of waist (over the shoulders)

Wear tight clothes when trying on body protectors and be sure that it is comfortable and suitable for the riding involved. Wearing the correct size ensures the maximum amount of protection is given.

As with any protective wear, equestrian body protectors cannot prevent injury but the severity of impacts can be greatly reduced if a correctly fitted, suitable body protector is being worn.

Felicity is a part-time writer, writing occassional columns in the UK on behalf of who sell body protectors for riders and safety clothing products. Anything Equine specialise in safety hats and jodhpurs in the UK.

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