No matter whether you're planning to go eventing, backing a young horse or going out for a happy hack, consideration should always be given to body protection.
Designed to absorb impact from a fall or kick from the horse, body protectors are compulsory for some competitions. But an increasing number of riders report feeling more confident - and therefore riding more positively - when wearing one in everyday situations from hacking to schooling over fences.
Recently the Area Forum 2017 has asked the Heath and Safety committee to look at recommended safety standards for body protectors based on the effects the criteria has had in the UK and USA.
These standards will become compulsory by 2020 for riders to wear Level 3 body protectors on cross country at New Zealand Pony Club and National Equestrian Federation affiliated events and when schooling on their grounds.
Riders looking to purchase new protectors before 2020 are advised to buy with these forthcoming changes in mind
What’s the best body protector for you?
BETA originally brought together riding organisations, doctors, riders, manufacturers and retailers to develop the now widely recognised BETA Body Protector Standard.
The BETA 2009 and 2018 Body Protector Standard meets all the requirements of the respective European standard (EN 13158). A revised edition of the BETA standard was published and adopted by BETA in 2018 as the new BETA standard, but will run alongside the 2009 version for at least the next 5 years whilst the older stock works through the market.
In performance terms there is no difference in the amount of protection offered by the two versions. The 2009 version ceased to be manufactured at the end of 2018, but there will still be a supply at retail stores which disciplines and rider organisations will continue to recognise and accept until further notice.
We would recommend that if you are looking to purchase a new body protector now that you look for garments with either the 2009 or 2018 Level 3 label on them.
The BETA Standard sets criteria for shock absorption, controls the area of the body that must be covered and ensures there are minimal gaps between protective foam panels. It encompasses three levels, each designed for different activities and denoted by a colour coded label on the garment.
• Level 1 - provides the lowest level of protection that is only considered appropriate for licensed jockeys. Level 1 is designed to meet the weight restrictions that apply to professional jockeys whilst racing.
• Level 2 - offers a lower than normal level of protection. It is considered suitable for general riding in very low risk situations and for professionals such as licensed jockeys when specified by their racing authority or regulatory body.
• Level 3 - is considered appropriate for general riding, competitions including eventing and working with horses. Level 3 body protectors should prevent minor bruising that would have produced stiffness and pain, reduce soft tissue injuries and prevent a limited number of rib fractures.
Please note: There is a seperate BETA Standard for shoulder protectors.
research into falls on the shoulder during eventing competitions revealed that wearing shoulder protection reduced the risk of breaking your collarbones by up to 80%.