Body protectors are designed to offer protection to a rider when falling off, being kicked or trodden on by a horse. No body protector can prevent serious injury in every situation, but they can increase the chances of staying alive and reduce the severity of injuries.
The correct fitting of a body protector is essential and it is a good idea to go to a reputable outlet where the body protector will be fitted to the person who is to wear it – perhaps by someone who has attended a BETA Body Protector Fitting Training session. Many of those on the market can be altered to fit in a number of different ways, with provision for riders with shorter bodies or wider girth being the most common. It is essential that the body protector is fitted as it is intended to be worn. For example, if being worn over a riding jacket, then it must be fitted with the riding jacket underneath. However, if it is being worn over a shirt, or cross-country top, then it should be fitted to be worn in that way.
Most body protectors are designed to comply with EN13158 and a recognised BETA Level standard. They can be purchased at Level 1, 2 or 3 but with Level 1 being phased out as stocks are run out (due to its limited protective elements), Levels 2 and 3 protectors are currently more widely available. A rider looking for the best protection will be advised to choose Level 3, which will meet the requirements for any of the equestrian disciplines.
With the advent of the air jacket, many riders are choosing to wear this garment over a Level 3 body protector to enhance their protection, as air jackets purport to offer further safety features. However, these jackets – which are generally inflated by a small gas canister, and attach with a lanyard to the rider’s saddle – are still new on the market and do not currently meet any recognised safety standard. Worn alone they offer little protection to the rider, and the manufacturer states quite clearly that they should be worn preferably with a BETA Level 3 EN13158 Body Protector.
For further information please contact the BHS Safety Department
Download BETA Guide to Body Protection