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  • Safety Vests?

    I need insight on whether I should wear a safety vest every time I ride, and what kind of vest would be the best choice.

    I am 53. I rode from the age of 10 until I was 26. From 26 to 49 I did not ride at all. I started riding again 4 years ago at age 49. First I leased a horse, and I bought my own horse in Feb of 2018. Admittedly,I spend more hours loving, caring for and hanging out with my horse than I do riding him! I have a very sweet 2014 Gypsy Vanner Gelding who is 15.1h, and has a good brain, but of course he is still young. Luckily, he is not the type of horse that needs to be ridden every day...he is almost always the same even- tempered horse and never bucks, rears or bolts. I am not interested in competing at this point in my life. I always wear a helmet with chin strap. We take lessons twice a week...one day I ride, the other day my trainer rides him. We also go on trail rides with one or more other horses. He is not what I would call a spooky horse, but he has spooked in place before, and a couple of times he has taken about 3 steps to the side when frightened on a trail. I only "jump" him over poles, very small crossrails and over an occasional log out on the trails, almost always at a trot.

    I have been hearing about quite a few horse related injuries and deaths lately, and it scares me. I know, just being around horses is very risky, I get that. For some reason, when I was younger, I didn't worry at all about getting hurt, and I did a lot more challenging riding and I competed as well. But now, the ground seems harder, and I have a small element of fear in the back of my mind, that keeps cropping up even more lately, every time I hear about a rider being injured, or worse. This fear does not inhibit my riding or prevent me from enjoying my horse to the fullest, but I do acknowledge that it exists. So, given the "wimpy" riding I do now, should I wear a safety vest every time I ride, regardless of where I ride, or are these vests only really needed/beneficial for riders jumping cross country or jumping courses of "real" fences (like I did when I was younger)? If I should wear one, what type is best for the pleasure riding I described? Will any vests protect from neck injuries? I appreciate any help or insight

  • #2
    I wear a vest pretty much every time I ride - be it cross country schooling a green spicy horse or trail riding on my good ol mr reliable - you can't predict an accident. I find they really do help when I hit the dirt. Try a few brands on and see what one you find comfortable for your body type (I prefer a tipperary, hate the beta ones, friends are the opposite).

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    • #3
      No harm in westing a vest!

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      • #4
        Agree, doesn't hurt to always wear one. I have an Ovation Comfortflex, it is SEI/ASTM certified and under $200.

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        • #5
          I htink it's a great idea to wear one. Im similar age and have one and will likely start wearing it now that its cooler.

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          • #6
            I am 68, I have osteoporosis, I have MS, and I have horrible balance and coordination. I've also ridden seriously for 49 years--as in I am nowhere near beginner status.

            I did not get myself a safety vest until my riding teacher asked me to start working with a 6YO OTTB gelding, one with a good mind. I had seen this horse in passing and he is 15.3 hands versus the 14+ horses I usually ride. After she asked I took a GOOD look at Coach (the OTTB) and the first thought that went through my mind is that THIS was the horse I'd probably fall off of, in spite of over a decade of riding with no falls.

            I went to my "local" good tack store and talked with the owner. My specifications were a certified vest, as light a possible, and as cool as possible. She guided me to the Tipperary Eventer Pro. Unfortunately this vest is too hot for me to use in the hot, humid Southern summers, but I put it on every time I ride once it is cool enough (when it is hot I have to use an ice vest--not much protection at all!)

            I did fall off of Coach, AT A WALK, a horse outside the ring came charging down the outside of the ring fence, and Coach, obviously irritated that I would not let him run, gave a little hop, twisting his spine, and off I went--thud.

            I had two cracked ribs even though I fell on rather deep sand. I do not know if my injuries would have been worse without the vest. When I finally got to the doctor and told him I had been wearing a protective vest his reaction was "GOOD" and he had nothing bad to say about wearing one.

            Even though I ended up with cracked ribs from my fall, every time it is cool enough I wear my protective vest. My main reason is that I want some protection if I should ever fall off the horse and hit the wooden fence around the ring on my way down. If I was still trail riding I would definitely wear it out on the trail, same for riding in a field.

            When it is cool enough I also put two of my ThinLine shims over my ribs, I do not know if that would do any good but some extra cushioning might help me if and when I fall again.

            I had also gotten myself the Trauma Void EQ3 helmet with the MIPS system to ride on this horse. The helmet worked wonderfully, in spite of having a wonky neck my head and neck had no problems after I fell. I heartily recommend a MIPS helmet, my head and neck never felt better after a fall off the horse as in I had no problems at all except having to replace my helmet.

            As a positive note about wearing the protective vest is that when I wear it my riding teacher does not get after me for my usually slouching back, so in that way it does help me ride better.

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            • #7
              There is an active thread discussing this issue on hunter/jumper and several we've also commented on over the years. A search might give you lots of advice to read!

              I wear one every ride since a very bad fall resulting in ribs, scapula and shoulder fractures. My surgeon recommended I wear one and I find them easy to get used to. Yes, they are hot and tight. They feel 'funny' until you become used to wearing it. On the upside, they work very well as a "sports bra" by holding the girls in!

              I have had a Rodney Powell (heavy and hot) and Airowear Outlyne and Hickstead vests. I love the Outlyne as it's designed for women. Do go try on several styles if possible. Measure carefully when you buy one. Buying from Europe is not a bad thing (Amira Equi is a great company!).
              Proud member of the "Don't rush to kill wildlife" clique!

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              • #8
                I fell off horses countless time when I was young and never broke a bone. When I was in my 50's, I had a very mild fall - we were trotting along when horse teleported out from under me. I went off the side (may have bounced off the ring railing, I'm not entirely sure) and broke 5 ribs, thus providing additional support for the old maxim that after a certain age, you don't bounce, you break.

                Before I started riding again, I bought a vest. Mine is an Aerowear Outlyne. I really like the vest and don't hesitate to recommend it, however, I'll note that I bought that vest because I am short and fat and that was the only one available at that time that came in my size.

                I've had one fall while wearing the vest. Everything under my vest was fine, not even a bruise.

                I will note that the Tipperary Ride Lite vest is often advertised as a non-certified, lighter alternative for recreational riders. I tried one of those a couple of years after I bought my Outlyne, but in my opinion, it's really of more use to protect against road rash and minor bumps and bruises and not a viable alternative to a true protective vest. (That's not a criticism, because the vest isn't intended to be that, but still thought it was worth mentioning because of the marketing of that vest.)
                "Facts are meaningless. You can use facts to prove anything
                that's even remotely true."

                Homer Simpson

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Calvincrowe View Post

                  I wear one every ride since a very bad fall resulting in ribs, scapula and shoulder fractures. My surgeon recommended I wear one and I find them easy to get used to. Yes, they are hot and tight. They feel 'funny' until you become used to wearing it. On the upside, they work very well as a "sports bra" by holding the girls in!

                  I have had a Rodney Powell (heavy and hot) and Airowear Outlyne and Hickstead vests. I love the Outlyne as it's designed for women. Do go try on several styles if possible. Measure carefully when you buy one. Buying from Europe is not a bad thing (Amira Equi is a great company!).
                  LOL,same sort of story here, had a very bad fall, had 10 distinct breaks to ribs, punctured lung, and a few other injuries. Family wanted me to ride in a vest, I resisted, but coach said I should try it, maybe I would be less tense when riding. Agreed to ride init once, discovered it was the best bra ever, hello sitting trot. I never ride without mine now, have had two falls since, with no major issues.

                  Being as I am a plus size girl I chose the Airowear Outlyne, as being good for the fuller figure, and i’m happy with it. I must admit when our brief summer arrives it’s kind of hot, and I longingly think of an air vest, but then I remember that my big accident was while mounting, so it would not of helped!

                  "He's not even a good pathological liar." Mara

                  "You're just a very desperate troll, and not even a good one. You're like middle-school troll at best. Like a goblin, not even a troll." et_fig

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                  • #10
                    I am 68 and have been riding most of my life but I am VERY safety conscious these days. I always wear a helmet, just got a new Trauma Void lynx on helmet awareness weekend and last year purchased a HitAir vest that I also wear always. I ride western so not the norm for riders I know, but I truly don't care! I feel like I am doing what I can and my kids are happy that I am taking care of myself since I mostly ride alone. I plan to ride for many more years and will do what i can to further that goal.

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                    • #11
                      I'm 67 and wear my vest every single ride.
                      So does my 13 yr old Granddaughter and many of her pony club friends.

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                      • Original Poster

                        #12
                        Thank you everyone for your understanding, for sharing your own experienced, and for all of your help!

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                        • #13
                          Yes, I'm 63 and starting wearing a vest every time I ride after my last fall a couple of years ago. My horse had been out of work for 5 weeks because of a puncture wound, and I so wasn't doing anything particularly edgy or daring. I asked the horse to trot, and then asked her to really move into the trot.

                          Yeah, well, she clipped one of her front hooves (actually the boot she was wearing) with a hind hoof and stumbled. I stayed on, but then as she tried to regain her footing, she clipped the boot on the other front hoof and down she went onto her knees. I half fell half bailed off, because I didn't want to get accidentally rolled onto. She stood up, looked at me as if she was thinking "what's with you?" and stood completely still (good horse!).

                          Nothing was broken, but I had bruised my ribs pretty well, and geez that hurt.

                          So the next day I ordered a vet (aeroware Outlyne, from Amira Equi), and a new helmet, and I've worn the vest ever since. (My horse no longer wears hoof boots though!).
                          "The formula 'Two and two make five' is not without its attractions." --Dostoevsky

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                          • #14
                            I don't think there's ever a situation that you should feel like you shouldn't wear a vest or feel that people might think it's silly/overprotective. I personally don't wear a vest on my own horses or when doing "normal" riding, but I'm an exercise rider so a) it's mandatory that I wear one and b) hitting the ground is simply a part of the job (well...I went about a month before hitting the ground 3 times between monday and tuesday last week). I also wear it when first restarting any OTTBs until I get to know them.

                            I do realize that at 27 I'm fortunately still in the "bounce back" phase BUT, I have hit the ground hard more times than I can count, been thrown into barn walls, had a horse fall on top of me and wriggle around to get back up and not broken anything that I'm aware of. I would honestly say that the protective vest was a big part of that, and would definitely recommend to anyone who is looking for additional protection, whether trail riding or just trotting around the arena.

                            I have the Tipperary Eventer Vest and don't find it to be overly hot in the summer...I wear it for 4-6 hours 6 days a week.

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                            • #15
                              Back in the day when I galloped racehorses at the track, vests hadn't been invented yet -- but once they were and became mandatory I got very used to wearing one -- stayed second nature from then on. A vest might feel uncomfortable to those who aren't used to wearing one, but they are a good safety measure none the less. I still wear one always - and not just because I'm in my 60's and only trail ride.

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                              • #16
                                Originally posted by mestle View Post
                                I am 68 and have been riding most of my life but I am VERY safety conscious these days. I always wear a helmet, just got a new Trauma Void lynx on helmet awareness weekend and last year purchased a HitAir vest that I also wear always. I ride western so not the norm for riders I know, but I truly don't care! I feel like I am doing what I can and my kids are happy that I am taking care of myself since I mostly ride alone. I plan to ride for many more years and will do what i can to further that goal.
                                I also have the Lynx Trauma Void helmet, and the Hit-Air vest.... Perfect combo...... (thumbs up)

                                They are pricey, but, worth it. Ive been bucked off my Mustang (in training) 3 times now, and every time it felt like falling back onto a couch... Love the Hit-Air vest. Its also not restrictive at all, unless it inflates.. then you feel like a big marshmallow. LOL

                                I rode like a wild-child as a kid, but, as I get older my bones just arent what they used to be. Thats a fact of life. Also, I now have a couple of steel rods in my spine that I worry about.

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                                • #17
                                  I bought the Hit Air vest a couple of years ago. I no longer bounce. It has gone off twice now--once when my last horse bucked me off (hence why he's no longer my horse) and once when I forgot to unclick from the saddle.

                                  My falls seem to always be landing on my lower back with my head flung back hard onto the ground. With the air vest, the gussets came out to protect my back, and my helmet never touched the ground due to the inflatable around my neck. I hit my hand coming off the saddle, buy only a bruise.

                                  I figured the Hit Air vest was cheaper than the ER PLUS the deductible on my insurance PLUS not being able to ride due to injury.

                                  I don't think my new horse would ever do anything, but now I feel weird not wearing it. It's sort of like getting on without a helmet or getting into a car without putting on a seat belt.

                                  I'm in a very hot humid climate & I don't even notice it anymore.

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                                  • #18
                                    All it really takes is a good, hard fall, and getting on in life to make a person realize how scary riding can be. I'm 49 and I've been riding for 15 years. I started off saddleseat and western so no helmet. None of my friends that got me into horses wore them so why would I?! Fast forward 15 years, a few various horses, and several falls, and you can now find me sporting my Trauma Void helmet, and my safety vest when I trail ride. I wear my helmet all the time, but I do not use my vest for every ride. I am a wimpy rider too and most of my riding is in an indoor or outdoor arena and my horse is very sane. I didn't have my vest on for every fall off my youngster (who is for sale), and I wish I would have. I have some nagging low back issues from landing hard. Hindsight is always 20-20 when we are lucky enough to still be around to have it.
                                    Do whatever you feel comfortably with and don't ever feel you need to justify to yourself, us or your friends and barn mates!

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                                    • #19
                                      My 60 yo, nowhere-near-beginner sister got the Air-vest after falling off her young horse and breaking a few transverse processes in her spine - scared her enough to invest in one AND a helmet.

                                      At my barn everyone jump schools in a vest, even the kids. I think it makes a lot of sense. I just wish vests were more comfortable.
                                      Ottbs - The finish line is only the beginning!

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