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Age of Vest

I was quite surprised by the last part of today’s Eventing Nation article with AEC stories.

The rider had a bad rotational fall last August and she’s still wearing an ancient vest that she thinks saved her life. How old is too old for a vest!?

I’ve been researching vests and thought that older vests aren’t acceptable. On my buying a vests thread, someone (I thought) posted that the 2009 vests are being phased out and they have to have a certain safety rating.

This is an article from 2015…. https://useventing.com/news-media/news/a-rule-reminder-regarding-body-protectors-on-cross-country

And if it was me and I took a hard fall I would probably replace it just like I would replace my helmet.

I believe the UK 2009 Beta standard is being revised. In the US vests aren’t even required to be certified which is a whole separate issue.

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In the US, safety vest do not have to meet any standards/safety ratings.
There is newer standard dated 2018, but, for eventing in the US, vests do not have to meet either the 2009 or 2018 standard.

That is a separate issue from when the vest should be replaced just because it is old (and the foam may have deteriorated), but I do not know of any specific guidelines.

As I understand it, whether or not you have had a fall does not affect the need t replace the vest.

Ok, no. Your vest doesn’t need to be replaced every time you fall.

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I used my original Tip until the zipper broke so 8 years. Lotsa falls. Got the new standard Tip which is nice but basically same song different verse. Where the sides tie and the front zips is reinforced.


Ahhh. I didn’t realize that. Now I’m even more confused on what vest to buy as I want all the safety features for my injury prone self.

The Beta 3 is generally the highest level of vest you can find (in the US at least). I’ve heard they should be replaced on a similar timelines as helmets every 5 years or so as the materials can degrade, but they don’t crumple on impact so don’t need to be replaced with every fall.

The vest pictured in that article is ancient and I’m a little disappointed in Eventing Nation for highlighting it as a good story. The current rules recommend vests meet current ASTM standards but don’t require it, which seems like it’s in real need of an update.

That’s one place where the Canadian rules actually lead the US (usually we just follow you). From our EC Eventing rulebook - I believe this rule came into force in 2018:

D114 2.1
A body protector vest is mandatory for the warm-up and the cross country test.
A body protector vest may also be worn for the warm up and during other tests.
Body Protector vests must meet or exceed, and be appropriately labelled
ASTM approved standard F1937-04 (2017), BETA Level 3 body protector
standard or European standard EN 13158-2018.

The BETA (British Equestrian Trade Association) provide plenty of impartial information on their webpage.

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I read the same article and had the same thoughts.

I had an older vest-probably only with me for less than 10 years, but bought on clearance at a closeout store (not used, but probably on a self somewhere for a good while). My coach a couple years ago pointed out to me I should probably think about replacing the vest-for my safety. I did end up replacing the vest for my commonly used one, but keep the older one for when my BF wants to hack XC while I school. Once or if he decides to start jumping, we will get him his own, but for hacking, I think the older one is fine, but meets the rule of having a vest for “XC schooling”.

But I’m glad I had a coach willing to suggest that I should get a new one for my own safety. And was watching out for me-someone who just trailered in for a lesson once a month on months I could make it.


A few years ago, there was a USEF rule change proposal to require safety vests to meet or exceed specific senders. But one of the UL riders on the USEA BOG at the time wanted to keep using his unapproved Tipperary, and the rule change proposal was withdrawn.

Most people seem to think that sitting in on the open BoG meeting at the USEA Annual Convention is “boring” but I always learn something new that isn’t otherwise publicized.

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I am still wearing a Tipperary semi-custom vest from 33 years ago. Is there a mandatory check of vests and helmets now, or an equipment check being proposed as a rules change?

At least when helmets were required to have harnesses, an infraction was pretty obvious. Maybe vest and helmet manufacturers could put labels on the outside, color coded for date of manufacture.

when EC put in the certified vest rule, I thought oh well my reg tipperary is 10 yrs old so prolly time to replace it anyways, went with the tipperary eventer pro and yeah old vest definitely feels much softer and squishier - foam must have broken down a bit with use

The problem with this is that people now believe it is after the date of first use, not the date of manufacture.

Sure. As you know this has been debated many times here. Date of manufacture versus date of initial use. But a ruling body could easily just mandate manufacture date.

We can all talk until the cows come home about whether the foam in helmets or vests deteriorates while sitting in a shipping box in a warehouse or on a tack store shelf, but date of manufacture is a firm, established date to use when having an equipment mandate.

We will shop for vests and helmets the same way we buy milk at the grocery store. Reach to the back of the shelf to dig out the newest one.

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Stuff like that is so frustrating…I don’t know if I could sit on the BoG without ripping all my hair out. Definitely interesting to hear these things but also infuriating that one person could prevent a rule change that’s for everyone’s safety.

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Up here, I don’t think there’s a formal check in place, but the vests do have labels on the outside (mine’s got a Beta 2009 label that’s in a specific colour which I assume is “official” because all those labels are purple on white; the Tipp Eventer Pro has the ASTM standard embroidered right on the front). I doubt anyone is actually looking though. I think only once I’ve had tack check at XC and they were looking for things like loose girths.

For helmets - I’m not sure we even have non-approved helmets being sold here any more. I suppose there might be a couple, but just looking at helmets you can recognize most brands pretty easily. Anything odd-looking might trigger a question.

The problem with that is two fold.

Tack shops will stop carrying as big of a selection because they do not want to risk them aging out while they have them. Which means people do not have a place to try on and buy from the back of the shelf (as you put it).

Many people buy these things online, because of lack of available places to buy in person, and they do not get the choice of reaching to the back of the shelf.