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Katherine Blocksdorf

New Innovation in Crash Vests for Horseback Riders

By August 26, 2010

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In the eventing world, safety vests are required during the cross country phase of the competition. I see many people wearing them during the stadium jumping as well. It's a great idea to wear one when you're schooling a young horse, or getting on one you don't know very well.

Photo: 2010 K. Blocksdorf
Justine wears her safety vest while cross country schooling on Trillium.

I've worn my daughter's vest a few times, and I admit they were a but bulky and I felt my arms were being held out from my sides. It probably felt worse than it looked. Like wearing a helmet or using any other safety equipment, a vest won't make you bullet proof, but they do go a long way to helping to avoid injury if you do have an 'unscheduled dismount'.

Over the last few years several horse trial competitors have been killed, or had serious injuries as their horses took nasty falls over cross country fences. In an effort to increase the safety and effectiveness of safety equipment for eventers manufactures have developed an 'air bag vest'. The vests contain channels and a CO2 canister. The vest is attached to the saddle by a cord that activates if the rider leaves the saddle. Feedback from those using the vest seems to be positive, according to  the article "Equestrians' Latest Safety Option Is the Air Bag" .  The F.E.I. endorses the use of the vests, although they have only been available a short time, and aren't proven  to be effective. Would you use one? Leave your comments below.


August 27, 2010 at 6:39 pm
(1) Buddy's girl says:

I had bought a vest when I got back into riding after 40 yrs, but, like you, found it very bulky and very difficult to wear. So, I didn’t use it. I was thrown from a horse and shattered 6 ribs, tore ligaments in my hips, and struck my head, but, thank goodness, I had a helmet on. I have been sent info about this vest from a friend of mine that rides endurance. Sounds like a great idea!

August 28, 2010 at 6:03 pm
(2) Maaryon says:

First they are not tested enough and second do you really want to be tethered to a horse? Yes the rope should seperate as you fall but what if it does not? Also, if you have a “nervous” horse, when the canister goes off it makes quite a loud sound which may spook the horse. There was an article in the New York Times this week about these vests. Before buying, look at all the videos.

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