Do you get used to riding in back protectors

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9 March 2017
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I wear mine out from time to time especially when I’m on my own and I forget I’m wearing it after the first 5mins.
I also have an air gilet that I wear sometimes, quite often actually. that might be worth considering as it’s just like wearing a gilet except for the gas canister.
I tend to wear either of these more often than I used to as really the roads can be quite dangerous nowadays and tarmac is hard !!!
I wear my back protector under a Hit Air as you are supposed to. I thought I would never get used to wearing both but I did. I have broken my back twice so not taking any chances!
 

Lyle

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Yup! I have a Racesafe Provent. It is completely different to the models of old, the slabs of foam which could be uncomfortable to wear.
I wear mine all day long, from handling youngstock to riding young horses, even my more experienced ones. Simple falls can happen out of no where, and I don't have time to be waiting for an injury to heal, or even simply being slowed down by bruising! I will admit, I won't ever quite get used to the wet T-shirt feel after removing it on a 35 degree Day!
If I had the cash, I'd be be investing in a Free-jump inflatable vest (with the compatible show jacket to go over the top!)
 

Ambers Echo

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Just as a slight aside - for those wearing air jackets all the time - they are considered a safety risk in an arena setting and some instructors do not allow them in lessons because the bang can set other horses off. So they may reduce your own risk but they increase other people’s risk. And thereby increase risk overall, so instructors doing a risk assessment make the judgement that air vests create additional risks. So if you want protection in all settings you are better off with a BP.

The reason air vests canno be used on their own is - I believe - simply that they are newer and the research has not been done to get them approved. That was the case a couple of years ago anyway.
 

ycbm

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The reason air vests canno be used on their own is -
I know you've just inadvertently got a word missing AE, but I don't want people just to read your post and think air bags can't be used on their own. They can, of course, and they are very effective, just in competition they must be used with a body protector. That's because if the airbag does not go off, there is little protection without a body protector too.
 
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ycbm

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Just as a slight aside - for those wearing air jackets all the time - they are considered a safety risk in an arena setting and some instructors do not allow them in lessons because the bang can set other horses off. So they may reduce your own risk but they increase other people’s risk. And thereby increase risk overall, so instructors doing a risk assessment make the judgement that air vests create additional risks. So if you want protection in all settings you are better off with a BP.

I can see the logic of this and I can see exactly why instructors say it. But it frustrates me a bit because my air bag has never set off the horse I'm on/off, never mind anyone else's, and I've fallen off in some crowded situations.

In my experience, it's the other rider falling off, or the action the other horse did to make the rider fall off, that upsets horses in group situations.
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Mule

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I get very hot in traditional back protectors. I feel the heat anyway so I hate being hot. In terms of comfort, the air jackets are supposed to be good
 

ycbm

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If the BHS says they offer little protection then the BHS are talking through their backsides and have clearly never fallen off in one.

I defy anyone to land on tarmac, bounce, stand up and laugh in a body protector.


Where did you hear that they are better than body protectors?
Probably from all the people like me who've fallen off in them.
 

Skib

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Air vests over a bp are definitely safer than a bp on its own because they can cover lower down the spine and further up the neck. But as Amber said, there is a chance of mechanical failure and so they should always be worn over a bp.
My OH who was frail and round shouldered wore an air jacket in lessons but they were solo lessons with no other horse in the arena. He never fell off during the time he wore one. It is hanging behind a door upstairs and if I ever felt the need, I would get it checked and wear it.
A lot of riding safety has to do with judgement. I hack solo and touch wood have never fallen off while riding on my own. But I do want to be able to dismount easily in any emergency.
 

Ambers Echo

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I can see the logic of this and I can see exactly why instructors say it. But it frustrates me a bit because my air bag has never set off the horse I'm on/off, never mind anyone else's, and I've fallen off in some crowded situations.

In my experience, it's the other rider falling off, or the action the other horse did to make the rider fall off, that upsets horses in group situations.
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one of the Somerford instructors said she had a faller in a group arena lesson. 3 other horses then freaked out leading to 4 falls instead of 1. She won’t allow them anymore. Another instructor said at her most recent CPD update session she was warned of the risks of air vests in arenas as there have been quite a few issues reported so the risk is filtering down to trainers. She was told to use her judgement as an instructor as to whether to allow them or not. It depends on who the horses are I guess but young, spooky, flighty ones definitely react.
 

ycbm

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one of the Somerford instructors said she had a faller in a group arena lesson. 3 other horses then freaked out leading to 4 falls instead of 1. She won’t allow them anymore. Another instructor said at her most recent CPD update session she was warned of the risks of air vests in arenas as there have been quite a few issues reported so the risk is filtering down to trainers. She was told to use her judgement as an instructor as to whether to allow them or not. It depends on who the horses are I guess but young, spooky, flighty ones definitely react.
I've seen exactly the same thing happen before air jackets were ever available. As I said above, it's often the fall or the incident which created the fall that sets the others off. There really no way of knowing if that was the air bag bang or not.

I do fully understand why instructors will not take the risk of being blamed.
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Ambers Echo

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Yes true. But definitely worth being aware of as a customer because if you come expecting to wear one and can’t I imagine that could cause anxiety. So best to check first with the trainer if you want to wear one in a arena with others.
 

ycbm

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Yes true. But definitely worth being aware of as a customer because if you come expecting to wear one and can’t I imagine that could cause anxiety. So best to check first with the trainer if you want to wear one in a arena with others.
In group sessions I've been in, trainers have asked the other members of the group of they mind me wearing it. I think that's probably a sensible protocol.

It's a good reminder, I was planning to do jumping clinics with Joe next year and there's no way I want to jump a baby 4 year old at 64 without having mine on.
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Bernster

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Eek, not sure if it’s a good or bad thing to have read this thread! I wear my racesafe for jumping but not for schooling or hacking. I find I do get used to it. I have an air vest too which I used out hunting but is gathering dust now (would need to service it before I used it again). These posts about accidents out hacking have freaked me out a bit!
 
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I have worn a Racesafe for the last thirty years and as said above don't even know I have it on, unlike my ventilated hat that I'm sweating all the time in, I did have an air jacket first time it worked very well second time not at all. I was walking when pony slipped I came out front door very slowly and I was lying level with her head still attached to the saddle, hate to think what the consequences could have been but shes a STAR so all okay.
 

Muddywellies

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I don't normally wear one as my focus is dressage. However I recently rode xc so had to dig mine out. When I initially put it on it felt cumbersome. But within a few minutes it had warmed up and the sponge softened and moulded to me and tbh I wasn't even aware I was wearing it.
 
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I have a Dainese Balios 3. Bought and worn as a promise to my husband :) It's roughly 'woman shaped' which means it fits my wide hips and chest. If I put it on about 20mins before I ride (wear it to bring horses in and tack up) I don't notice it so much. By the time I mount it has warmed up, softened and my temperature adjusts so I remember that I'll only need a t-shirt under it. They are snuggly and I would advise investing in some thin base-layer tops in natural fibres and some smooth bras (no bits that could dig in) alongside your BP if you don't already have some as this is key to comfort.

If I put my BP on right before I mount then I spend the first 10mins fidgeting and it feels stiff and cumbersome. I do wish I'd bought one without a strap between the legs though as its not the most stylish but perhaps safer? I also wish I had bought one in a colour that matches my show jacket :rolleyes:
 

Reacher

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I don’t think you can draw conclusions about the protection a BP or a vest provide from anecdotal evidence as each fall will be different. The reduction in risk in the case of a rotational fall is small.
There is some research in the article below from https://www.chronofhorse.com/article/vested-interest-know-about-body-protectors-air-vests

What exactly do body protectors protect?

Body protectors are designed to reduce the energy that will impact internal organs during a fall and reduce the chance of sharp projectiles entering the vests. Mindful of lawsuits, companies are careful about not overpromising what a vest can do.

“You cannot say ‘safety’ or the word ‘safe’ when describing the products,” said Leeder. “As in, you can’t say, ‘This [body protector] is safer than another.’ We can’t say, ‘You’re not going to break your ribs with this on.’ We can say that we reduce the impact energy to key areas of the trunk of the body. Those are the magic words.”

Without additional shoulder protection there’s little to help protect the collarbone.

“With air jackets, you can extend the coverage,” said Burek. “Some come down over the hips. Riders land on hips and get pelvic fractures. A body protector won’t address this, but the air vest can come down further.”

The CEO of Point Two Air Vests, Lee Middleton, pointed out that the combination of an air jacket and body protector shields more of the body.

“Traditional body protectors, which are fantastic, have been proven in racing to reduce rib fractures,” he said. “Certain areas, like your tailbone and neck, can’t really have protection from a traditional body protector but they do with an air vest. The two complement each other really well.”

Should you wear an air vest without the body protector?

Eventers must wear a traditional body protector along with an air vest on cross-country, but there’s nothing to stop a jumper or foxhunter from opting to don just an air vest.

“My kids [wear an air vest alone],” said Middleton. “They’re too small to wear two vests; it impedes their riding. The majority of our customers wear them on their own. We have a lot of riders who don’t wear traditional body protectors because they don’t like the restriction, but they’ll wear our air jacket. We have a lot of western riders who do.

“There’s always a chance that the jacket doesn’t go off and you have zero protection, so I’ve always said if you’re a person who normally wears a body protector, wear two,” he continued. “The only time I’d say wear an air jacket on its own is if you never wear a traditional body protector, either because you don’t find it comfortable or you just don’t wear it.”
According to Burek, you need both.

“The way we look at body protectors and air jackets is it’s a bit like a car with seatbelt and airbag,” he said. “When we had airbags put in the car, you didn’t say, ‘Well I’ll just leave my seatbelt off.’ If the air jacket doesn’t go off, if you haven’t changed the cylinder, haven’t adjusted it correctly, you’re in trouble.”

What Does The Science Say About Body Protectors?
Several studies on equestrian body protectors fail to prove they significantly reduce the chance of torso injury in case of a fall. That said, the studies generally didn’t distinguish between types of falls or activity. Someone who dons a safety vest because she’s schooling cross-country may have a better chance of a fall, or a more severe consequence of a fall, than someone who’s riding on the flat.

So in 2018 a group of scientists decided to compare apples to apples, analyzing 718 U.S. Pony Clubs accident reports filed from 2011 to 2017. They determined that wearing protective vests while riding on the flat or for show jumping didn’t correlate with a decrease in injuries, but wearing a body protector for cross-country did demonstrate a correlation and showed a trend toward a lower incident severity level. In fact, wearing a body protector on cross-country reduced the relative risk of injury by 56%. They published their findings in the BMJ Open Sport & Exercise Medicine journal.
As a result of this study, as of Jan. 1, 2019, U.S. Pony Clubs officials amended their policy to require riders jumping solid obstacles or cross-country fences to wear body protectors. Previously USPC didn’t have a safety vest policy, only requiring vests for competition in conjunction with USEA and USEF rules.

“Everyone thinks, ‘Oh the competition rules say I have to wear my vest,’ but people might get lax when they’re schooling,” said Yvette Seger, the USPC Safety Committee chair and one of the authors of the study. “If you’re out schooling, if you’re doing anything at speed, anything with solid obstacles, it’s a pretty good idea to wear your vest.”
What Does The Science Say About Air Vests?

British Eventing’s national safety officer Jonathan Clissold helped with a 2016 study that measured the effectiveness of air vests. Researchers dropped a recently deceased horse on a crash test dummy that was wearing both a body protector and an air vest. They compared the results to when a cadaver was dropped on a dummy with just a body protector. The results were presented at the International Research Council On The Biomechanics Of Injury Conference.

The air jacket reduced the probability of a serious chest injury from 94% to 81% in the study.

“It helps slightly, but in a serious crush injury when the horse lands right onto a rider it won’t help,” said Clissold.

“When you come down to physics, when a half-ton horse coming down from height in a serious rotational fall falls onto a human, the chest is going to cave in, basically, whatever you’ve got on around it,” he continued. “And when you look at these falls a few inches either way make a big difference on what injuries we sustain, which is why we concentrate on trying to reduce the rotational falls.”
A 2019 Australian study published in the Journal Of Science And Medicine In Sport set out to investigate the association between injury severity and air vest usage in eventing competition falls between 2015 to 2017, using the FEI competition statistics and reports. They found that riders wearing air vests were over-represented in the percentage of serious or fatal injuries in competition compared to those who just wore a body protector, and they found no evidence that riders who wore an air jacket had a reduced injury outcome in falls.
The data used by the researchers contained falls from all three phases of competition.

“As air jacket usage and also serious injury outcomes are both more likely in cross-country, we suspect that the finding was heavily influenced by cross-country falls,” said Lindsay E. Nylund, one of the study’s authors. “However without further data we don’t know what effect this had on the finding.”
Outside of the study’s limitations—they weren’t able to separate out falls by level or phase—the authors suggested several reasons the falls with air vests have a higher rate of significant injury. One is the possibility that the force needed to deploy air vests alters the fall trajectory—independent testing showed that pull forces associated with triggering air vests to inflate ranged between 150 and 593 Newtons—which could increase the risk of landing closer to the horse. It’s also possible that the way air vests deploy may impede a rider’s ability to tuck and roll following ground impact. Additionally, the loud sound made by an inflating air vest may momentarily distract the rider from responding to the impending fall.
They also noted that the percentages of starters who fall increases as the level increases, and riders at greater risk of injury may be more likely to wear an air vest.

“It would be beneficial to include additional data on the relationship between air jacket usage and the level of competition, event, horse and rider characteristics, the biomechanics of falls, injury mechanisms and the exact nature of injuries sustained in future analyses,” reads the study.
Clissold wasn’t surprised by the results.

“Our own stats show the same,” he said. “[British Eventing] records all our falls, and of the falls that are serious injuries in the UK more of them are wearing air jackets than aren’t wearing them. I’d like to see more research; it could be that people who feel they’re most at risk are wearing them.

“I’d like to see more detailed work done and data that would significantly show us if the air jackets were causing a problem by immobilizing people when they land, taking away their ability to roll out the way,” he continued.
 

flat3

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I bought an air jacket after a back fall a few years ago, measured myself and bought online but don't feel confident about setting it up so it fits properly so I've never worn it! I feel like it could do more harm than good if not adjusted correctly?
 

Annagain

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I have an air jacket - the gilet type because I'm vain - which I wear all the time. I wear it on its own on the flat or for hacking and over a body protector for any sort of jumping. It's far more comfy than my body protector (I don't really notice it other than being hot but I get used to wearing the BP and forget about it within 5 minutes too.
 

Uliy

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I'm intrigued by the Airowear shadow, which has just come out. It is very much a back protector rather than a body protector (doesn't protect against crushing) and is therefore very much not for XC, but could be an option for hacking & SJ! You're meant to even be able to wear it under a show jacket. Has anyone on here invested?
 
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I wear both and the one time I fell off the air jacket did do the job and I was mainly unhurt. But! My horse got such a fright that he kicked out and caught me on the arm. I still have the marks years later. However better a sore arm than a broken back!
 

SOS

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I must be weird as I don’t really notice when riding in my race safe despite not using it often. I only really wear it for XC or when competing or if hacking fast/something young. I’m aware I can still fall off in other circumstances.

I think race safes are so flexible and lightweight it’s not that different to wearing a gillet! I have the provent 3.0 and would buy it again tomorrow if I needed too. Well worth the money for not feeling constricted. And no I don’t work for them just it hasn’t failed to impress!
 

QuantockHills

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I’ve said it on here before but I broke my back when wearing an airjacket (very uneventful fall). I wear my racesafe at all times now and find it comfy. Apparently airjackets shouldn’t be worn on their own (if only I’d known that beforehand!)
You can wear the Hit -Air without a BP underneath... I wear mine every time I ride and find it really comfy.... I wear it over my BP for cross country but i never get on my horse wthout my air jacket. hacking can be a lot more dangerous than anything else sometimes!
 
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