Protective vests - I want to get one and would like to hear your experiences

After a fall where I broke ribs and punctured a lung, I think I’d like to start wearing a safety vest. For reference, I’m 50+ and ride jumpers. I live in California’s central valley, so it’s hot most of the riding season. I would just wear it on the outside of my shirt, and for classics that I need a jacket for I’d probably just wear it over my jacket.

I’d like to hear pros and cons of the padded ones vs. the inflatable air ones.

It seems like it would be important to get one that meets safety standards, although i’d be interested in hearing comments on that as well. I’ve been trying to research the various safety standards. I think there is a 2nd standard that applies to the racing vests that jockeys must wear, and this may be a lower standard than the other? If anyone can confirm this I would appreciate it. I think BETA 2009 level 1 is for jockeys but level 3 is what they recommend for other riders. I think ASTM F1937-04 is for riders and ASTM standard F2681-08 is for jockeys? There also appears to be a 3rd standard that doesn’t require annual testing like BETA does, but is otherwise the same, called EN 13158 (2009)? If someone has already figured all this out I sure would appreciate knowing what the deal is!

Does anyone have experience with a knowledgeable vendor that can help educate me? Right now the only game plan i have is to start calling the companies that make the various vests directly.

I will also post over on the eventing forum, since I understand they have to wear a vest for cross country. TIA

I ride the local/A “small jumpers” and wear an Airowear Outlyne vest, every ride, home or show. I’ve had it for about a year now, and really like it. Face it, any non-air vest is going to be hot. You really need to try them on as everyone’s body type will “wear” a vest differently. I have no experience with the air vests, but they’d definitely be cooler and less intrusive. I think (now, I could be terribly off) that eventing sill requires a non-air vest to be worn with an air vest. Eventers can speak to that more accurately.

By vendor do you mean tack shop or maker of vests? I stick with the BETA rated/ASTM vests like Airowear or Charles Owen and the like. The reason that Tipperary vests were not rated was the segments could be pierced, so could not meet the safety standard.

Honestly, I think any of the rated vests will give you what you are looking for–protection against arena falls while jumping. Don’t over think it. I’ve had a custom Rodney Powell and it was hot and heavy and protected me in two hard falls. I got the Outlyne and it is cooler, and definitely it protected my previously broken ribs/scapula a month ago when I back-splatted after my horse and I parted company.

I’m 47, and have had a broken humerus/shoulder, ribs and scapula which is what prompted me to wear the vest. They are becoming more common in the ring, which is a good thing. Good luck in your search.

I love my Tipperary. It is much cooler than other vests IMO. I know some people dislike them but i love mine and i know it has protected me in several falls. I also thought that eventing requires the non inflatable vests to be worn with the inflatable, but I could be wrong.

one of my clients wears an inflatable one ever since she had a bad fall also. As her trainer, I find the inflatable one has less effect on her position-some of the others can feel bulky. Two things to remember though-you must get in a new habit of unclasping before you dismount and when they do inflate they can be fairly loud which is startling. Hers has definitely kept her safer during a couple of falls.

I have a limited budget and the Flexrider vest works well for me. It is ASTM and Beta level 3 certified, and I found it new with tags on eBay. Flexrider is made in the US, and is one of the few double certified outside of the UK. Fit through the chest is measured like bra size/band. I would recommend zip up vs overhead with velcro sides for greater comfort. The overhead ones feel a tad suffocating, and sizing does depend on how endowed you are.

As you suspected, you’ll get a lot more info from people with direct experience on the Eventing forum. Still, here’s my experience:

I am in my late 50s and decided to get a (non-inflatable) vest several years ago, not because I had a fall but because at my age I’m beginning to feel a bit more mortal. I wear it for every ride and show in it without incident. I did a lot of research at the time about sizing and safety standards, and based on all that I ended up with the Racesafe vest, which I bought from a tack shop in the UK because they had a lot more sizing options. I got used to wearing it within a few days and still use it for all my regular riding.

I recently bought a new vest just for showing because my Racesafe is a bit bulky. (The material it’s made of reminds me of a baseball catcher’s chest protector). I was hoping to get one that I could wear under my show jacket. I ended up with the new Tipperary Competitor XP, which, unlike the former models, meets all the current ATSM safety standards. I love it! It doesn’t quite work under my show jacket, but I may get a bigger jacket, and then I’m sure it will. It’s very light and comfortable, and it garnered compliments from people at my last show, who tell me that it looks very unobtrusive over my black show jacket. Here it is:

I’m keeping it for shows only, and will continue to wear my Racesafe as my “everyday” vest.

I wear one every time I ride except for showing. Like they say about cameras. the best one is the one you will take with you!

Like the poster above, I like my Tipperary because it is comfortable, easy to get one and off, not too hot, and does not get in the way of the pommel. I had on before that was longer in front, and rubbed the pommel when I jumped in it.

The way I use mine, I want it nice and snug. I wear mine over a shirt, but under vests or jackets when it’s cold. Don’t plan on wearing it showing. As I recall, mine is a child size.

My kid wears the Charles Owen for schooling and the Tipperary for showing, over his coat. The new Tipperarys DO meet safety standards, they recently changed their design slightly so that the minor issues that prevented them from meeting the requirements were fixed. You can still buy the old kind, however, so if you want one meets the standards make sure you’re getting the new kind. We wear the Tipperary for showing because it is much less bulky and much more flattering. When my child is out in the arena, it can be difficult to tell there is a vest over the coat, this is not true for the Charles Owen (which we owned first). That sucker is bulky.

I like the Outlyne because it’s cut for a woman. I have never had an issue with it interfering with the pommel when riding. I’ve ridden in the the old style Tip and was kind of 'meh" about it, bought and tried the new approved Tipperary and hated the fit-returned it. My old Rodney Powell was totally custom measured and ordered from the UK. I liked it but it was so heavy and hot!

My SIL events and quite honestly, most eventers wear there’s only when schooling or showing on the cross country course. None of her friends (or her) wear theirs while taking lessons, or at home. I’ve worn mine more times in a month than she has in a year!

I wear mine over a polo or show shirt when doing jumpers, or over my hunt coat in the hunter ring.

Airowear has designed a new vest to be worn by European showjumpers over their coats–slim fitting, totally approved, very plain black color. I’m very, very tempted to order one now that I’ve fallen in love with their regular Outlyne style.

One of the benefits I’ve found is that I actually ride better in a vest because I’m more relaxed. A vest isn’t as safe as sitting in a rubber room, but, like a seat belt in a car, it does provide a good bit of protection. Feeling safer, I can relax more, and therefore, ride better. (This communicates itself to horsie, who also behaves better.) I used to ride in a Tipperary (pre-certification), but I actually prefer my Flexrider like luckymaverick, and have the one with the zip front and adjustable sides.

I just recently bought my first vest–a Tipperary. DH came off his mare several months ago and cracked three ribs. After that incident we bought him a vest. Watching him use it the last three months, I realized it might be a good idea. I do a lot of riding, including jumping, alone and I like the idea of being better protected if I do come off. At this point I only wear mine when trail riding on the temperamental or spooky mares, or if I plan to jump. I don’t think I’ll show in it, but we’ll see. So far I find it more comfortable and less inconvenient than I expected.

I appreciate all the input so far! for those of you who ride in the Tipperary - which one? There is an Eventer, Eventer Pro 3015, Ride Lite, Racer 1035, and Competitor XP (this last one is the new one).

Hoss, which Charles Owen does your kid ride in that you think is bulky? There is a JL9 or a Kontakt 5.

Calvincrowe - I saw that new Airowear, the Hickstead, online and was looking at it, it does look pretty nice. Do you think it would be cooler than the Outlyne that you have?

I have the CO JL9 and I find it uncomfortable under my arms. It rubs a little. I do feel like the CO offers more protection than the Tipperary, so I used to wear it when riding babies.

My everyday vest is an old Tipperary. I believe the only reason it is not as safe is that you could be stabbed through the lace up sides. I’m not too worried about that. I find the Tipperary much cooler and more comfortable than my JL9, but it did well when I flew over the fence sans horse.

I formerly rode at an eventing barn where everyone wore a vest every ride. I feel naked without it now, even riding hunters.

I wear mine for every ride except at a hunter show- it looks too bulky under my jacket. When I do eventing I wear it for all of the jumping stages, but not the dressage.

I have some vague interest in the KanTek jacket, but I’ve only ever seen it online.

OP it’s the CO JL9 that I think is bulky. He loves it and is very comfortable riding in it, which is why we use it for schooling. I think it looks like it offers better protection than the Tipperary Eventer Pro but we use the latter for showing because it is so much more flattering and streamlined.

I should probably be replying on the Eventing thread, since I use mine for eventing, but…I have the old Tipperary Eventer. I find it very comfortable, and as I’m not particularly worried about impalement from between the side laces, I’m happy in it. I typically only use it for XC schooling or competitions, but did ride in it the first few times back after dislocating my clavicle this summer. It’s fine when you’re riding out of the saddle, but because of how far the spine protection comes down, I don’t think I could do dressage in it. My coach has the Eventer Pro, which is the approved model, and quite likes it. If I was buying new now, I’d probably get that one, or the less expensive Competitor model; I bought mine before Tip offered an approved model, and I found the COs I tried on far too bulky to be able to move in well.

A note about the air vests, which I’m sure has been addressed on the Eventing thread, but is worth mentioning here–they’re designed to be worn over a regular vest, not on their own, unless you’re looking at the Point Two Hybrid one.

I have worn a protective vest for years. I started out with a Charles Owen which at the time met the highest safety standards but turned out to be a bit stiff and uncomfortable. For some reason it encouraged me to round my back. Also, while it came down further in the back to offer more protection, the lowest part of the back would also sometimes hit the back of the saddle which was annoying. I am sure CO has improved their designs since those days, though.

Many vests are designed for cross country riding or racing where the rider is in a more forward seat. So, when choosing a vest for h/j riding, you need to make sure that the back is long enough that it provides some protection–but not so long that it hits the back of the saddle when you are riding with a full seat.

I have also used the Tipperary Competitor. A very cool and comfortable vest, and very well fitting for a female body shape. Overall I felt this vest was on the skimpy side. I don’t think I would buy another. But, it might be a good choice for a very petite person.

I am now using the Tipperary Eventer. I am super pleased with this vest. It is just as light and flexible/comfortable as the Tipperary Competitor, but provides just a little more coverage/protection. I measured carefully prior to ordering to make sure that back length was just right. And, I (carefully) got in the saddle and tested the back length prior to removing tags. I ride in the vest year round and don’t find it uncomfortable in the summer. For showing in the jumpers, a black or navy vest is very unobtrusive over a dark polo shirt or sweater. I do not use my vest in the hunters or with a show coat, but I don’t think it would be a big deal either.

My sons foxhunt and pony club in Tipperary Ride Lite vests. Which seem very reasonable and functional, but not as tailored as the other vests. Perfect for growing kids, not what I would choose for an adult.

Yes, the Tipperary vests are made up of “segments” and a LONG stud on a horse’s shoe or some sharp object that you landed on could potentially pierce between the closely placed segments. However, as a rider I’m more worried about blunt trauma. Also, IME there was a steep trade off to having a more solid shell–it makes for a much more uncomfortable vest.

You may have noticed that I have not mentioned air vests. 1) First of all, air vests are designed to be worn WITH a hardshell vest underneath. 2) To me it seems like overkill to wear two vests, and snap and unsnap myself from the horse every time I ride. If I were still eventing I probably would get one for cross country, but not for every day use. 3) The air vests are very pricey, especially considering you should be buying a hardshell vest to go with it. 4) The canisters are $30 apiece. I can guarantee I’d go through at least one a week from forgetting to unsnap myself from my horse. 5) Other members of this BB can speak in a more educated fashion on this matter, but the popularity of air vests is based far more on a fabulous marketing campaign than on actual safety data.

I have a KanTeq that I really like. It is custom fit (made specifically for women), the customer service is great, has good coverage/protection, and it doesn’t ever need to be replaced. I find it comfortable, not heavy once it’s on, and I wore mine all last summer without feeling like it overheated me.

I am riding more dressage now and starting to find that it interferes with my position. It shouldn’t cause any trouble for eventing/hunter stuff.

I’m going to look into the Tipperary vests for dressage/ring work but hang on to my KanTeq for trail riding or days that I’m jumping.

I tried the CO vest in a test ride and hated it. Too bulky and stiff. I’ve heard good things about the Outlynes.

I have the Tipperary Ride Light. Yes, I know it’s not certified. But I’m super short waisted and not thin so to get a regular vest to fit around, they were way too long and interfered with the cantle. It is NOT fun to have the shoulders of a vest up around your ears! :wink:

I’m a former hunter, now low level eventer/all-arounder and I’ll happily wear it in both the jumper ring or at any horse trial/CT.

There are some awesome vests on the market now, but they all fit a bit differently. I’d say the more you can try, the better off you’ll be to find the one that best suits you.

Hi there!
Eventer here.
1st, good for you!! I wear safety vests allll the time.
I have 3 different vests that I choose from depending on what I’m doing.

  1. Lest restrictive vest:
    Like this:

I wear it on trails, or when I’m riding young horses on the flat.

  1. Airowear Outlyne
    awesome vest!! this is what I would recommend for you.
    I wear it when I break horses and for show jumping. It actually fits UNDER my show coat.
    I wasn’t quite long enough for me for XC so I ended up ordering another vest for XC.

It molds SUPER easy and is very tidy. Even more tidy than the wimpy Tipperary.
I’m wearing it in this picture
and in the SJ picture here:

  1. My very stiff much more protective XC vest
    Rodney Powell

This one is quite stiff and will feel very restrictive. It’s impossible to get on if it’s cold.

I do NOT recommend the air vests. there isn’t much testing done on them and personally I don’t trust them.
They often go off by mistake if you get jumped out of the tack or dismount before unhooking the lanyard. They are bulky looking and floppy looking.
I’m just not a fan at all.

hope that gave some good insight!

I don’t feel hot when I’m in the vests.
I wear mine in 100* weather.
I feel more issue with my helmet in the summer here than the vests.
I’m known to rock they dorky looking white bike helmet looking helmets at fancy clinics if they are in the summer. lol.
That being said, I soak through my shirt and often even my vest with sweat in as cool as 50* weather.
My body has a crazy good cooling system.