How to Choose a Body Protector

How to Choose a Body Protector

Choosing a body protector

With British Eventing enforcing new rules on safety standards for body protectors in 2011, it is important to check your old body protector is up to date and certified to the level required for your chosen discipline.

Protection Offered by a Body Protector

Body protectors are designed to protect riders by absorbing high levels of energy created by falling off, being kicked or being stood on by a horse. The protective materials used inside the body protectors we sell (Airowear) are made using UltraFlex™ Technological Foam, which softens and moulds to the contours of the body when exposed to body heat, this makes them more comfortable to ride in than some of the older styles.

The foam used inside older styles of body protectors does have a tendency to become brittle when aged, resulting in a reduction in protection being offered, which is one of the reasons for updating the standard requirements for those wanting to compete at the higher levels. It is recommended by BETA (British Equestrian Trade Association) that you replace your body protector every three to five years. If you suffer a fall please check your body protector for any damage.

Body protectors do not offer spinal protection or prevent injuries involving severe torsion, flexion, extension or crushing of the body.

Countrywide stock the Airowear brand of body protectors, which are one of the UK’s leading manufacturers and suppliers of protective clothing for sports people.

Safety Standards

The Following standards apply to body protectors.

EN13158: 2009 and the BETA 2009 Standard

For British Eventing, your body protector must conform to either BETA 2000 or BETA 2009 Level 3. These standards are designed to give the rider the best impact absorption and coverage available whilst riding cross country.

Airowear body protectors have been manufactured and tested to meet the requirements of the European standard for Protective Jackets, Body and Shoulder Protectors for Horse riders. They are CE marked showing confirmation to the Personal Protective Equipment directive 89/686/EEC. In addition, they have been tested to BETA 2009 Standard for horse riders’ body and shoulder protectors.

EN 13158 and the BETA Standard have specific tests to establish the performance of garments under impact.

There are three categories of impact as follows:

Level 3: Purple 2009

Body protectors providing a level of protection that is considered appropriate for normal horse riding, competitions and for working with horses.

Level 2: Brown 2009

Body protectors providing a lower than normal level of protection that is only considered appropriate for use in low risk situations.

Level 1: Black 2009

Body protectors providing a lower level of protection that is only considered appropriate for licensed jockeys.

Countrywide stock Level 3 body protectors and would recommend these to all customers. Level 3 provides protection appropriate for normal horse riding, competitions and for those working with horses.

Selecting the Correct Size

Body Protector Fitting Guide

Four measurements are essential when selecting a body protector size.

  • Chest (A)
  • Waist (B)
  • Waist to waist (over shoulder) (C)
  • Back length (D)

Please refer to the diagram on the right as a guide.

1. Take the four measurements and choose the size based on your chest and waist measurements.

2. Use your back length and over shoulder measurement to select the correct length.

Airowear body protectors are gender specific and as such address the different requirements for male and female riders.

Body Protector Fitting Guide

Airowear body protectors come in chest sizes from 52cm to 114cm and waist measurements from 50cm to 102cm. Each width fitting has two optional back lengths; regular and short fittings. Extra short and long fittings, as well as a made-to-measure service are available by special order if required.

Shoulder protectors are available for all Airowear body protectors to offer added protection for the collar bone area.

The image on the left demonstrates a correctly fitted body protector.

At Countrywide Stores we have equestrian staff who have been specifically trained by Airowear to fit you with the best body protector for your size, shape and requirements.

If we do not have your size available in store, we can always order in your size to ensure we get you the body protector that will provide you with the best fit and protection you need.

Body Coverage and Adjustment

When fitted correctly your body protector should cover the following areas of the body:

  • The whole circumference of the torso.
  • The front should reach at least 25mm below the last rib without bending into a riding position being inhibited.
  • The top of the back of the protector should just reach the prominent bone at the base of the neck (seventh cervical vertebra).

Body protectors have hook and loop fasteners at the waist and shoulder to allow for adjustment. These fasteners should always be fully in contact with no contrast coloured tabs showing. If a colour tab is visible this, indicates the body protector requires fastening or is an incorrect fit and an alternative size should be selected.

Once a size has been selected, you should check that it is comfortable to wear in all simulated riding positions. The back of the body protector should not touch the saddle during riding. Body protectors should fit reasonably tightly so that they do not move during activity and ideally be worn over light clothing.

Caring for Your Body Protector

To keep your body protector in perfect condition, we recommend it is kept on a clothes hanger with the zip done up. Velcro fastenings should also be done up and kept clean and fit for use. Please ensure you read the care instructions on how to keep your body protector in the best possible condition.

Air Jackets

Air jackets should not be used as a replacement for a body protector, as they are intended to be worn in conjunction with a suitable body protector for offering additional protection.

A key difference between the two is the type of protection that they provide. A body protector offers permanent, static protection both on and off the horse. An air vest meanwhile provides only temporary, dynamic protection once the garment is inflated.

BETA is currently working with a committee to develop an ‘add-on’ to the BETA Body Protector standard that will certify air vests to a set of criteria laid down by the committee. The air vest will only be valid if worn with a current body protector.