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Questions for Air Vest Users

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  • Questions for Air Vest Users

    While we were at WEG last fall, my parents saw the air vest and dear people that they are, decided to give me one for Christmas. I was delighted to discover that it was easy to use and reasonably comfortable to wear. As they gently pointed out, I'm not getting any younger and I was "only issued one body." I could hardly argue with this logic, considering that I hobbled around WEG with a horse-related knee injury.

    I'd love some tips from users on preventing "accidental deployment" - the vest is comfortable enough that I tend to forget about it. Twice now, I've remembered too late and WHOOMP! upon dismount. While hilarious for me and various bystanders (and a bit startling to the horse), I've gotta figure something out here...

    Now, question #2 - public reaction. The air vests are new enough that I expected some polite interest and questions. I've gotten a bit of that, but I've also gotten a surprising amount of negative feedback (i.e., people who think it's downright silly). I should add that none of the gigglers have witnessed one of my accidental deployments. Granted, I expected to get flak from certain "old school" sectors, but I sure didn't see it coming from, say, trainers who insist on helmets for every ride, flat or jumping. I've got a tough skin, so I plan to keep wearing the vest and figure people will get used to it. But, I'm curious as to what reactions other air vest users are getting?
    Rachel Kosmal McCart
    Equine Legal Solutions, Inc.
    www.equinelegalsolutions.com

  • #2
    I think you'll get better responses on the eventing forum. Vests like those aren't really used in the hunters or jumpers.
    http://www.youtube.com/user/supershorty628
    Proudly blogging for The Chronicle of the Horse!

    Comment

    • Original Poster

      #3
      Clarification

      Per the last post, had deliberately posted here rather than in eventing because I specifically wanted to see if other H/J folks were wearing them. If I don't get any good answers on the deployment question, I'll post a thread there.

      (Obviously, I'm not wearing the vest in the hunter ring, only for schooling)
      Rachel Kosmal McCart
      Equine Legal Solutions, Inc.
      www.equinelegalsolutions.com

      Comment


      • #4
        Why did your parents get you this vest? No work has been done to show significant reduction in injury due to the use of these vests. In eventing, a standard vest MUST be worn underneath the air vest.

        While an air vest may reduce some impact forces, they will not prevent spinal, clavicle, and pelvic fractures as they are deformable and as such you can still be folded in half until bones break. Yes, Point Two has data from TRL about reduction of impact forces but that work is based on a child and not an adult and it is only for their product. Hit Air has no data.

        As for accidental deployment, there is no easy fix. Because the vest rely on a fail dangerous mechanism it is up to the rider to consciously remember to attach/detach the lanyard. Any attempt to rectify this will reduce the effectiveness or likelihood that the vest will work as needed. There is a reason that in many industrial applications you see HUGE red tags on lanyards saying "Remove Before...." Next time you are at the airport watch the ground crews and see all of the red steamers they attach and detach from the plane before flight.

        Reed

        Comment

        • Original Poster

          #5
          Originally posted by RAyers View Post
          Why did your parents get you this vest?
          In short, they were at Rolex and saw the vest in action - Oliver Townend's fall.
          Rachel Kosmal McCart
          Equine Legal Solutions, Inc.
          www.equinelegalsolutions.com

          Comment


          • #6
            I can't say I've ever seen anybody that rides H/J wearing one. Not saying they don't, I just haven't. If you like it and want to wear it, then go for it. Your safety is more important than what other people think.

            (random thought) I really think someone with some drawing talent should do up a cartoon. I have this hilarious mental image of someone getting REALLY jumped out of the tack and the vest deploying as they're flying mid-air above their horse. tee hee. Not that it would ever happen, I just think it'd make a great cartoon.
            __________________________________________________ _
            Proud member of PETA: People Eating Tasty Animals!

            Comment


            • #7
              The air vests enjoy a good reputation and a significant amount of use at my barn, which is highly competitive in the jumpers particularly.

              For the most part, they are used at home. Generally, those showing in body protectors wear the non-air vests to show. I haven't heard a single peep about that, and my trainer is showing the GPs in one (non-air).

              I have one myself and have only worn it at home thus far. It's certainly saved me a significant amount of pain after a fall last autumn where I landed directly on my back. I have not yet had it deploy while jumping, touch wood....

              As far as explaining it to other people goes... I'm lucky in that I haven't had to do it, really. My trainer is very pro-body protectors and if anything I have been applauded, by her and other people at my barn, for my choice to wear one. I am pretty sure that if I were to wear one to the horse shows (and I do plan to wear one while schooling, but perhaps not in the hunter ring, because I want pretty pictures... I know, very vain) I wouldn't really get many comments due to my barn's reputation. I mean that in two ways - the good and solid reputation they enjoy, as well as the reputation my trainer has for taking safety measures by wearing a vest. Funny looks, maybe, and maybe some curious questions, like "oh is that an air vest? Cool, how does it work?" (I've gotten quite a few of those questions already and I like explaining it)

              As far as getting off the horse and remembering to unsnap oneself... oooh boy! I don't honestly know how I remember; there was a period of time there where I forgot often but if you get off reasonably slowly it won't deploy. So concentrate on landing lightly on your feet..? Is there someone that can help remind you before you get off?

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by EquineLegalSolutions View Post
                In short, they were at Rolex and saw the vest in action - Oliver Townend's fall.
                Please realize that video analysis shows that OT's HELMET is what saved him and that the vest was not inflated when he hit the ground. The horse actually never really landed on OT. This is where advertising and personal account from a person who was unconscious when it happened can be misleading.

                I am not anti-vest. I think that can be part of a risk mitigation however, I caution people about the perceived benefits/capabilities of these safety devices.

                Personally, I use a Tipperary or a Woof Wear EXO, depending on the risk. They too have their downsides as well.

                Reed

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Across Sicily View Post
                  I have one myself and have only worn it at home thus far. It's certainly saved me a significant amount of pain after a fall last autumn where I landed directly on my back.
                  Scientifically proven or not, I think that this is a good reason to wear one. Hit the ground without one a few times and know how that feels. Hit the ground with one a few times and see how it feels.

                  No, it's not scientific, and it hasn't been proven yet, but if it feels like it hurts less to hit the ground with an inflatable vest, wear it. I'm getting one this spring.
                  Looking for horse activity in the Twin Tiers? Follow my blog at http://thetwintiershorse.blogspot.com/

                  Comment

                  • Original Poster

                    #10
                    Sicily, thank you. I had started wondering whether I'd actually receive any helpful responses.

                    Most of the above posts are great (if ironic) illustrations of the weird (to me, anyway) anti-vest attitude I mention. There's the not-so-subtle insinuation that air vest wearers must be (a) marketing victims, (b) clueless nobodies, (c) eventers or (d) all of the above. And here I thought that level of COTH Contempt was reserved for natural horsemanship clinicians!

                    I chuckled when I saw Sicily's suggestion about having someone remind me to detach before dismounting, as my barn friends would be more likely NOT to remind me just so they could see the vest deploy.
                    Rachel Kosmal McCart
                    Equine Legal Solutions, Inc.
                    www.equinelegalsolutions.com

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by EquineLegalSolutions View Post
                      Sicily, thank you. I had started wondering whether I'd actually receive any helpful responses.

                      Most of the above posts are great (if ironic) illustrations of the weird (to me, anyway) anti-vest attitude I mention.
                      I think you're taking Reed's posts entirely the wrong way if you think he is anti-vest. This subject has been discussed to death on the Eventing forum, and it's not that people are anti-vest, it's that people are concerned that the air vests have some safety questions that have not been addressed, and so as a result some posters (like Reed) tend to pop up whenever they're mentioned to remind people of these issues, as the ad-copy for the vests tends to gloss over them.

                      It's not anti-vest, it's pro-educated-decisions-about-safety.

                      In any event, for the remembering to un-hook issue - could you clip something bright or otherwise annoyingly attention getting in a place where you'll see it as you're getting ready to dismount, and it will jog your memory? (I wouldn't want to use something that might interfere with it releasing in the event of an accident when you WANT it to deploy, but I'm thinking maybe a brightly colored ribbon tied to the opposite side of the saddle or into the horse's mane or something? Until you develop the habit of doing it every time.)

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Reed mentioned all the red flags they attach to airplanes to protect various pieces on the ground. Those are usually stenciled in white "REMOVE BEFORE FLIGHT." If a small flappy flag wouldn't freak out your horse, you could put on one the lanyard where it attaches to the saddle. If you want you could stencil it "REMOVE BEFORE DISMOUNT"!

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Vest

                          Honestly i doubt you will get response from hunters. The air vests are very expensive and not even a lot of eventers have them yet, i doubt even 2% of hunters do, on another note, they are meant to be worn over a protective vest, its not legal in eventing to wear just the air vest, making it even more expensive to have seeing as the other vests are $250ish plus the price of the air vest, my best advice is to sell the air vest, get a tipperary vest which is just as comfortable and not as expensive when u forget to unplug it and you"ll probably make money, as well the tipperary vests also do good things for your posture.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by EquineLegalSolutions View Post
                            Sicily, thank you. I had started wondering whether I'd actually receive any helpful responses.

                            Most of the above posts are great (if ironic) illustrations of the weird (to me, anyway) anti-vest attitude I mention. There's the not-so-subtle insinuation that air vest wearers must be (a) marketing victims, (b) clueless nobodies, (c) eventers or (d) all of the above. And here I thought that level of COTH Contempt was reserved for natural horsemanship clinicians!

                            I chuckled when I saw Sicily's suggestion about having someone remind me to detach before dismounting, as my barn friends would be more likely NOT to remind me just so they could see the vest deploy.
                            And some of us are researchers and engineers who specialize in safety designs and equipment and who spend time looking at device failures for legal issues. Many of us have spent the time to look at the actual science, testing, and engineering behind these vests. We spend time going over accident data and even do some reconstructions. Sadly, the reality is that these vest were adapted from other venues without any adequate consideration of the injury mechanisms in horse back riding. If you only want pats on the back and atta-boys, you should have simply asked.

                            You ask about the vest and those of us who use them more regularly than any h/j are responding. While your parent's intent is noble, there are sufficient numbers of accidents occurring while wearing these vests that include a recent death, several neck and back fractures and numerous shoulder injuries. These indicate that one can not rely on these vests other than to possibly soften the landing should they deploy.

                            Why do I bring up marketing? The original safety claims by companies such as Point Two showed a rider falling off while wearing a vest. The captions to the pictures on the company website stated the rider walked away with no injury. It was not until I and some others pointed out that the rider shown actually broke her neck and 2 vertebra in that crash that P2 took the images off their website and out of their advertising.

                            As I stated, I am not anti-vest per se. Like I said, I use a Tipperary or an EXO. I would consider an air vest if it was a fail-safe design. However, because they are fail-dangeorus, the USEF safety committee has deemed that a standard body protector MUST be worn underneath.

                            Reed

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by RAyers View Post
                              You ask about the vest and those of us who use them more regularly than any h/j are responding. While your parent's intent is noble, there are sufficient numbers of accidents occurring while wearing these vests that include a recent death, several neck and back fractures and numerous shoulder injuries. These indicate that one can not rely on these vests other than to possibly soften the landing should they deploy.
                              Do you happen to know if there's going to be any investigation or study into the recent death and what the vest actually did in the incident?

                              One thing that bothers me about the vests is that multiple people have pointed out that: 1) The horse and rider can fall without the rider moving far enough for the vest to deploy (as in a rotational fall where the horse rolls over on the rider who hasn't even really left the saddle) and 2) due to the design of the vest, it's entirely possible to hit something before the vest deploys or has fully deployed, sustain a break such as to the neck or spine as a result of that impact, and then when the vest deflates (as it does automatically, I understand, there's no 'inflated until valve release' function) that break can shift and move and cause significant amounts of injury - there's a very good reason why people are always yelling about not moving someone with a possible spinal injury, and why EMTs and the like get a lot of training in how to handle someone with a possible spinal injury when they MUST be moved. (And why you're strapped in like mad when they get you on to the board to move you. A broken bone in the spine is bad - a broken bone in the spine that then shifts and severs or partially severs the spinal cord is a whole hell of a lot worse.)

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by justkidding1989 View Post
                                Honestly i doubt you will get response from hunters. The air vests are very expensive and not even a lot of eventers have them yet, i doubt even 2% of hunters do, on another note, they are meant to be worn over a protective vest, its not legal in eventing to wear just the air vest, making it even more expensive to have seeing as the other vests are $250ish plus the price of the air vest, my best advice is to sell the air vest, get a tipperary vest which is just as comfortable and not as expensive when u forget to unplug it and you"ll probably make money, as well the tipperary vests also do good things for your posture.
                                Actually, the BEST advice would be to buy an ASTM or BETA 3 approved vest (which would NOT include the Tipp Eventer), which can be had for far less than $250 - and then wear it either under or in place of the air vest.

                                I am an eventer, and started wearing my (CO) vest all the time a couple of years ago because it just didn't make sense to own the thing and rarely wear it, and honestly, most of the falls I've taken in my life have NOT involved jumps. Besides in my own discipline, I've worn it to gymkhana events, to try horses (not eventers), to jumper events, and in the company of folks of all sorts of disciplines (including hunters). For the most part no one has said anything, and the only comments I HAVE gotten have been positive.
                                Proud member of the EDRF

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  I personally welcome our safety vest overlords.

                                  Back in the day <groan>, we had almost identical conversations to this one about helmets and seat belts...honestly, almost exactly the same kind of skepticism that a new safety device might actually be unsafe in a certain bizarre situation, so I won't use it, and focus on the one case where the belt broke a bone or trapped someone in, or how it is not cool or doesn't look good to girls/in pictures....etc.

                                  Now, I appreciate the people to analytically parse the technologies with data for ways to make it better--helmets and seat belts of today are loads better than they were in the 70's because of that kind of attention. But the push back and attitudes are completely, well, predictable.

                                  Have any of you all followed the bull riders' movement to embrace helmets and (gasp) vests? Check it out. If those cowboys, whose culture (and paycheck) depends on the idea that they be unafraid of puncture, step-ons, tosses, and tramples, can handle it, so can the tightest-ass jumping barn.

                                  Wear your vest proudly...I'd say that I'm not here to be cool, I just can't afford to miss weeks/months of riding for another injury.

                                  PS: Just don't just save it for jumping---In my battered and broken experiences, the worst wrecks have never been on an eventing course or even in an arena. The young horse going batty over a wind-driven bag, or a recycling tub emptied out while you are riding with dropped stirrups, or a horse throwing himself over backward because of a bee-sting, or the broken collar bone from the freakout over just swatting a mosquito.... Or my favorite, the skull fracture bringing a horse in from turnout....
                                  At all times, we are either training or untraining.
                                  Flying Haflinger blog: http://flyinghaflinger.blogspot.com/ Flying Irish Draught blog: http://flyingirishredhead.blogspot.com/

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by Brigit View Post
                                    I can't say I've ever seen anybody that rides H/J wearing one. Not saying they don't, I just haven't.
                                    I was shocked to see someone wearing a safety vest (not sure if it was an air vest or standard vest) over their red coat while riding in the Nations Cup. Pretty cool that someone so high up in the sport would face potential ridicule in the name of safety.
                                    Topline Leather -- Bespoke, handwoven browbands & accessories customized with Swarovski crystals, gemstones, & glass seed beads. The original crystal braid & crystal spike browbands!

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                                    • #19
                                      really...the "BEST" advice, thats just really rude. How bout your personal advice...this is why horseback riders have a bad rep they are redic swollen headed. This is a place to give help to another, not make it known that someone else's opinion is wrong because your opinion is right and the only thing that is right.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by justkidding1989 View Post
                                        really...the "BEST" advice, thats just really rude. How bout your personal advice...this is why horseback riders have a bad rep they are redic swollen headed. This is a place to give help to another, not make it known that someone else's opinion is wrong because your opinion is right and the only thing that is right.
                                        If the OP or the OP's parents have a safety concern, that IS the best advise. No different than advising someone to buy an approved helmet over a hunt cap.

                                        OP, I have not seen any HJ types wearing either type of vest other than when I make them borrow one of mine to come school XC with me. I admittedly, do not wear mine unless I'm out jumping solid fences, but, like other posters, have only had severe accidents walking on the buckle. Good for you for taking the initiative for your own safety! I do agree however that if you want tried and true protection it would be a great idea to add an approved vest underneath.
                                        ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
                                        \"Let the civilized world go to the devil! Long live nature, forests, and ancient poetry.\" --Theodore Rousseau

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