The vests offered today combine for the most part ergonomics, comfort and design. They are an optimal protection during your trainings, your leisure outings or during your competitions. Many brands offer compatible clothing to blend your airbag into your outfit (competition jacket, down jacket, jacket ...)
The protective vest provides torso and back protection in case of a fall or impact. It provides protection for the kidneys, rib cage and abdominal organs. Often thicker than the back protection, it is composed of several layers of foam that allow to absorb shocks. Because of the relative rigidity of the vest, it helps the rider to stand upright on the horse. It can be worn over a teeshirt, polo shirt or sweater but under a coat in winter.
For the protective vest, the level of protection is classified in 3 categories:
- Level 1: Minimum protection for professional jockeys. This level of protection has been designed to respect the weight limits that apply to jockeys during races. It is not suitable for the level of protection required for equestrian activities, which requires a minimum protection of level 2.
- Level 2: Protection appropriate for low risk activities. It corresponds to the minimum recommended for leisure equestrian activities, from beginners to expert riders, practicing in clubs or any type of horse riding.
- Level 3: Superior protection appropriate for leisure riding and competition. It is also intended for people working in contact with horses and running the risk of kicking. This is the level of protection required for riders practicing driving and eventing in competition as well as Trec.
It is important to choose a vest that fits snugly and is worn as close to the body as possible so that it is effective. A vest that is too small may restrict your movements and breathing. Conversely, a vest that is too large will not be effective in case of a fall. Please note that the level 3 vest is mandatory in cross country and marathon driving.
The back protector protects the rider's back. It is generally composed of a layer of foam that softens when in contact with the rider's body heat to free up movement and provide the rider with the greatest possible comfort. Relatively thin, it is worn close to the body and is easily placed under the rider's clothing.
It can be used in all equestrian disciplines except marathon driving and eventing as well as Trec.
All airbag accessories, CO2 cartridges, lanyards, connectors and straps must be selected according to the vest used. You must use the cartridges recommended by the brand of vest you are using and make sure to select the correct capacity. All this information is mentioned in the vest's instruction manual.