How to choose a body protector for horse riding

  • It is incredibly important to keep your body protector up to date and certified to the level needed for your discipline.
  • Our guide explains each level of protection and what they would be used for, so that you can find the body protector you need.
  • In every Countrywide Store we have equestrian staff training to fit you for the best body protector, and our guide also covers all you need to know to understand these fittings.
  • Learn how to care for your body protector so you can always be safe and ready for riding.

It is incredibly important to keep a body protector for horse riding up to date and certified to the level needed for your discipline

Our guide explains each level of protection and what they would be used for, so that you can find the body protector you need.

It is important to check your old body protector is up to date and certified to the level required for your chosen discipline.
It is important to check your old body protector is up to date and certified to the level required for your chosen discipline.

In every Countrywide Store we have equestrian staff training to fit you for the best body protector, and our guide also covers all you need to know to understand these fittings.

Learn how to care for your body protector so you can always be safe and ready for horse riding.

Why do I need a body protector when riding?

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

Choosing a body protector for horse riding

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.

Safety standards for horse riding body protectors

The BETA 2009 Body Protector Standard meets all the requirements of the European standard (EN 13158:2009). A revised edition of the BETA 2000 standard was published and adopted by BETA in April 2009 as the new BETA 2009 standard. The BETA 2009 version continues as the current standard. No body protectors have been made to the BETA 2000 standard since July 2011 so garments with 2000 standard labels will therefore be above 3 years old now and recommended to be replaced.

The BETA Standard sets criteria for shock-absorption, controls the area of the body that must be covered and ensures there are minimal gaps between the protective foam panels. It encompasses three levels, each designed for different activities and denoted by a colour-coded label on the garment.

Level 1 (black label) provides the lowest level of protection that is only considered appropriate for licensed jockeys while racing.

Level 2 (brown label) offers a lower than normal level of protection so is considered suitable for low risk situations - not including jumping, riding on the roads, riding young or excitable horses or riding while inexperienced.

Level 3 (purple label) is considered appropriate for general riding, competitions including eventing and working with horses. Level 3 body protectors should prevent minor bruising that would have produced stiffness and pain, reduce soft tissue injuries and prevent a limited number of rib fractures.

How to select the correct size of body protector

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

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

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.

Before making a special journey it may be adviasbale to check your local store to avoid any disappointment.

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 above 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.

Coverage and adjustment of body protectors

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 & body protectors

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.