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"Best" Safety Vest for the non-eventer rider?

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  • "Best" Safety Vest for the non-eventer rider?

    Following my crash into a jump, resulting in broken ribs/shoulder, I've decided to purchase a safety vest. Yes, I know it won't "save" me from future injury, but certainly one would have lessened my injuries this time. That said, I'm not an eventer (but will only purchase an approved vest!) and need one for hacking/trail riding/jumping. I think I'm highly breakable and need the confidence boost of being attired in the best safety gear I can don. I've already replaced my helmet following this crash (always do!).

    What experiences have the COTH community had with vests? Ones to avoid? Likes and dislikes? Ease of wear? Do any fit under a sweater/hunt coat? Will I be laughed out of the ring if I wear one? (I don't show A circuit, and am transitioning to the jumper ring)
    Proud member of the "Don't rush to kill wildlife" clique!

  • #2
    Charles Owen Ultra lite. Highest safety rating.

    Tipperarys, I recently learned, are not rated. In fact they are the most comfy, but those little blocks that are meant to save your parts are not safe as the spaces between them leave enough space for injury.

    The CO is not as comfy, I just got one and need to break it in. (conform it to me). But I am eventing, and I would rather feel stiff in the chest then end up with a punctured lung from a rib.


    • #3
      The only reason the Tipperary vest isn't approved is because you could potentially get jabbed from a stick in-between the blocks. Honestly, I've tried to think of instances where that could actually happen to me and couldn't think of anything plausible enough to satisfy me not wearing mine. I think it's incredibly comfortable (well, as far as wearing a vest goes) and I got mine cheaper used on eBay The approval process for vests is MUCH different than helmet, so I wouldn't automatically rule out non-approved vests.

      I think the Tipp/similar design (like Intec) would be the best to fit under a jack as they're less bulky than the other vests out there, but it'd still be noticeable. I don't think you'd be "laughed" out of the ring per se, but some people will think you look silly. Obviously your concern is about safety and not fashion, so that shouldn't matter to you. Though I think they're silly looking and I'd never wear one in stadium or jumpers (I event so I wear mine xc), I'd never judge or be rude to someone for choosing to wear one.
      "Last time I picked your feet, you broke my toe!"


      • #4
        I have one of these: http://www.airowear.co.uk/reiver.php

        I bought it online from England and it was pretty affordable, even with the shipping cost. It is level 3 certified.

        I don't event either, just do piddly h/j stuff. I broke a vertebrae in my back two and a half years ago and like you, wanted to feel a little safer. I wear mine most of the time (lately I've skipped it a few times as it's been hot out). It is pretty comfortable, I don't really notice I'm wearing it once I get on.

        I can put my North Face fleece zip up jacket on top of it in winter but wouldn't be able to put a show coat on top of it unless it was WAY too big for me. It is pretty bulky.


        • #5
          Originally posted by LittleblackMorgan View Post
          Tipperarys, I recently learned, are not rated.
          Not true. They make many vests. The Eventer is not rated to a current standard. The new Competitor is ASTM certified. I am looking at the latter as my next vest. It looks like a winner and should fit under a hunt coat nicely..

          "look deep into his pedigree. Look for the name of a one-of-a-kind horse who lends to his kin a fierce tenacity, a will of iron, a look of eagles. Look & know that Slew is still very much with us."


          • #6

            I have a tipperary as well but not the eventer. It's got a removable cover so it's washable and was about $100 cheaper than the eventer. I wear it trail riding and/or jumping - my husband wears his every time he gets on out 17'2 hand young, green and foolish percheron mare. Comfy, adjustable, protects the sides better than I thought the eventer did. Not sure about the name of it though.


            • #7
              I think you'll find this thread very interesting regarding safety vest certifications and what they really mean:
              Head Geek at The Saddle Geek Blog http://www.thesaddlegeek.com/


              • Original Poster

                Thanks for the replies and the link. I look at a vest/body protector as another layer of protection and confidence. My family has engaged in motorcross for years, so the idea of wearing a chest protector is ingrained in me. And, they work in MX against blunt force trauma so I'm assuming they'd work in riding. My surgeon actually recommended I wear one in the future!!
                Proud member of the "Don't rush to kill wildlife" clique!


                • #9
                  You know what? I'm thinking you can get a 2 Point air vest.
                  And then I was reading a blog and she mentions HIT AIR which is cheaper.
                  I know you can get the 2 point air vest at VTO and BitofBritain.
                  Here's a google hit for the hit air one http://www.hit-air.com/horse/english/top/index.html
                  Even duct tape can't fix stupid


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Calvincrowe View Post
                    they work in MX against blunt force trauma so I'm assuming they'd work in riding.
                    This has actually been hotly debated in the Eventing forum by people who are far more qualified than I am (actual doctors and actual biomechanics researchers). Some of them argue that motocross has little or nothing in common, biomechanically, with how riders fall from a horse. Do look it up on Eventing if you're interested.
                    Head Geek at The Saddle Geek Blog http://www.thesaddlegeek.com/


                    • #11
                      The Tipp Competitor doesn't seem to meet the BETA standards still, though. (At least, not that I could find, including on their own website.) They used to make a vest that was ASTM AND BETA 3, but it looks like they don't offer that one any more.

                      Physics-wise, remember that you want your vest to also distribute the impact in order to dissipate it - and a vest made of lots of little pieces isn't going to do that as well as one that is solid. The Tipp Competitor looks like it has bigger pieces (vs the Eventer), which is probably how they got it through the ASTM standard.

                      For me, personally, I want a vest that is as safe as it can be, so when I was shopping I only looked at vests that met both the US (ASTM) and British (BETA) standards, and ended up with a CO. I have a funny shaped body, apparently, and the CO can be ordered in a different sized front and back, which was the only thing that fit me. It's stiff at first, but softens as it warms up, and I don't notice it after the first five minutes or so. I wear it every ride (because, well, why not?), and the only thing it's ever interfered with is remounting bareback from the ground (which was pretty funny, actually - and luckily I found a well-placed tree stump to help in the end! ).

                      It fits under my fleeces/sweatshirts/winter jackets/etc, but has to go over my show coat. I think it looks less silly that way than it would to get a much larger show coat and wear it underneath. Luckily I'm an eventer, so no one will care, but if I wanted to do h/j above a schooling level, I'd probably get one in a color that matched my show coat.

                      Ultimately, though, I'd rather have people laughing at me than get hurt. I also wear a helmet to show western. If showing under USEF rules, you cannot be penalized for wearing a vest, either.

                      ETA: Note, if you have an air vest, that they are meant to be worn OVER a normal body protector.
                      Proud member of the EDRF


                      • #12
                        I have the Tipperary Eventer, though I'm not looking to event anytime soon. I find it quite comfortable though a bit toasty. I tried on a CO vest and felt very constricted in it.

                        The few times I've fallen recently, I haven't had the vest on, so I don't know much difference it makes. They were not bad falls though ... just a few scrapes and bruises.

                        If I were going to make a habit of jumping solid objects or riding my horse in areas where the terrain would make an otherwise uneventful fall more dangerous, I might consider stepping up a bit. But for what I do (dressage in the ring, hacking out, etc.), I find the vest is useful for those days when mare is obviously feeling a bit silly and I want an extra layer between me and the ground.
                        Full-time bargain hunter.


                        • #13
                          the new tipperary xp does have all of the approvals now,with the labels right on them.


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by myrna View Post
                            the new tipperary xp does have all of the approvals now,with the labels right on them.
                            Including BETA 3? It seems strange they wouldn't mention that on their website...
                            Proud member of the EDRF


                            • #15

                              Have you tried this vest? It does have "blocks" but it also has material in it that drys quickly if you sweat alot. The vest is never soggy after a ride. And if you need to replace one of the blocks, you send the vest back to Casel-Equi and they fix it. This vest comes in a short back (so it doesnt cover your tail bone) and you can use it while riding western or english becase of no interferance with the back of the saddle.


                              • #16
                                I got the Airowear Outlyne. Figured if it's good enough for the US Olympic eventers, it's good enough for me. a lowly dressage rider.

                                After falling last year and cracking some ribs, promised to wear it every ride. It's very comfortable. We don't get really hot weather here, but I wore it last year in 90 degrees and was comfortable.

                                Ordered it from here:
                                Good price, excellent service.

                                I'm in favor of just about anything that protects my aging body....


                                • #17
                                  I don't have a tipperary xp vest in front of me,i will check it out when i get back to work on friday.


                                  • #18
                                    I got a ration of crap when I was trying on a Tipp and someone told me why they would be less safe if you were stepped on or some other tragedy...

                                    I was searching for one on Ebay at the time and read (here? maybe?) about the CO ultra lite. So I happened to score a brand new one with out tags, never worn CO in my size, in my horse's color for $75. Pretty good considering they go for $230 something in Dover...

                                    After landing on my head 2 years ago and ripping my bicep and spraining my ankle this winter (and also coming to the realization that after 25 you actually break when you fall), I am ready to be waaaay safer then comfy or stylish.

                                    And whomever is worried about looking funny etc etc in the ring, or who ever said they arent an eventer and are "just doing piddly HJ stuff" NEVER down play safety!!! Never be embarassed! Both times I got seriously injured I wasn't eventing! I was riding dressage. Knock on wood, I have never been hurt, wayward tree scrape aside, bombing through the woods jumping.
                                    I think all riders under 18 should be wearing one (at say, a riding school/lessons/academy and whatnot). When I think back on all the horrid falls I had a kid/teen...its a wonder I'm not dead...


                                    • #19
                                      That was me that said I just do "piddly HJ stuff"... and I definitely am NOT embarassed about wearing the vest or downplaying safety. I was just stating that I'm not much of a "serious" rider, yet I do wear a vest. I take lessons at a h/j barn with an "A" circuit trainer and am the only one ever wearing one, but I don't care what anyone there thinks. They weren't the ones worrying about being paralyzed, or in the hospital on a morphine pump, or out of work for months.

                                      I do skip wearing it sometimes when I'm riding a quiet horse in the ring and it is hot outside. My TB is an ex-schoolie/IHSA horse so he's pretty trustworthy... I don't jump him anymore so I often skip it when I ride him in the ring at home. When I ride my fave quiet schoolie at the lesson barn I skip it sometimes too, but most of the time I wear it there, since I'm jumping (albeit tiny jumps ).

                                      When I broke my back, I was hacking out at a WALK and horse spooked and bolted. I did some xc as a jr., never wore a vest (we didn't back then, 25 years ago) and never had a bad fall/injury. So yeah, the big one can happen when you're doing "nothing".


                                      • #20
                                        Good for you KPF. I too remember when vests were something only the ultra high levelers wore...

                                        I dont wear one on my pony when schooling, but now that we starting trail riding again, I will wear it out in the woods. One of my trainers duffed it at a walk when her horse's feet went out from under him and she broke 2 ribs and her backs never been the same.

                                        Murphys law...