As with riding hats, body protector safety is controlled by the use of standards and certification marks.
Airowear body protectors are CE marked to EN 13158:2018 and annually retested to the highest BETA Level 3 2018, meaning they consistently meet the very latest in safety standards.
Superior design and technology have allowed us to create body protectors that mould to the form of the rider and more effectively protect the vital organs and ribs in the event of a fall.
How do body protectors help?
Body protectors are designed to offer protection to a rider by absorbing the high levels of energy created when falling off a horse or being kicked or stepped on by a horse.
Body protectors DO:
- Protect the abdomen and internal organs
- Protect the thorax (chest and ribs)
- Prevent against soft tissue injuries, including bruising, lacerations/cuts, abrasions/contact burn
- Reduce injury.
Body protectors DO NOT:
- Offer direct spinal protection
- Protect from crushing of the body
- Protect against injuries involving severe torsion, flexion or extension
What are the safety standards?
There are three international equestrian safety standards for foam-based body protectors: EN 13158, ASTM F1937 and ASTM F2681.
There is one specification for air-inflatable equestrian body protectors: Satra M38.
Motorcycle body protector standards are sometimes used for equestrian body protection: EN 1621-2, EN 1621-3 and EN 1621-4. However, these are not typically suitable as the risks they test for are quite different from those that an equestrian faces in the event of a fall.
Unlike other certification marks, the CE mark is simply a design test that allows items to be sold in Europe.
These organisations manage the standards and test products to ensure body protectors meet their requirements of safety for riders.
BETA maintains the EN equestrian standards.
EN 13158 is a body protector standard with three primary components:
- it controls the area of the body that must be covered
- tests impact performance both on flat ground and fence rails
- measures security of attachment to the wearer.
Impact testing is conducted at ambient temperatures, and an optional 30°C impact test is also available.
Body protector manufacturers conforming to the BETA standards are required to annually re-test their approved products to ensure ongoing consistency in the quality of manufacture and of the shock-absorbing foams used in the construction of their garments.
SEI maintains ASTM standards.
ASTM F1937 is a standard that specifies:
- requirements for the body protector assembly
- the extent and form of the protective material used
- the attachments
- the dimension, sizing and body coverage provided.
Testing procedures include a shock attenuation test, a penetration and deformation test, an impact sites test, a padding separation test, and a closure test.
These tests are done in four conditions: ambient temperature, low temperature, high temperature, and water immersion.
ASTM F2681 is a standard for body protectors that covers the minimum performance criteria and outlines test methods for body protectors that will be used specifically for horse racing.
Levels of protection
In 1995, BETA Level 1, 2, and 3 safety standards were introduced, with 1 being the lowest and 3 being the highest level of protection offered.
There are three levels of protection to cater for different riding activities. The latest European safety standard is EN 13158 and BETA 2018.
No body protector can prevent serious injury in certain accidents, but you can improve your chances of staying safe by choosing the highest safety standard.
Level 1 (green label)
Body protectors certified to Level 1 provide a lower level of impact protection that is only considered appropriate for racing where weight is of over-riding importance and there are no requirements in place for a great level of protection.
Level 2 (orange label)
Body protectors certified to Level 2 provide a lower than normal level of protection that is only considered appropriate for use in low risk situations.
These DO NOT include riding on roads or other hard surfaces, riding over jumps, riding young or excitable horses or riding while inexperienced. This level is now used by many jockeys while racing.
Level 3 (blue label)
Body protectors certified to Level 3 provide a level of protection that is considered appropriate for normal horse riding, competitors and for working with horses.
Protectors to this level should prevent minor bruising that would have produced stiffness and pain, reduce soft tissue injuries and bruising, and prevent a limited number of rib fractures.
This level is required by many exercise riders for race horses.
Level 3 – Carriage driving (blue label)
Body protectors designed to meet the needs of horse drivers. Navigators are best wearing a standard level 3. It does not provide adequate coverage of the back for those riding horses or those working with them.
In addition to body protectors, the BETA standard is able to test against a fall on the point of the shoulder.
As shoulders are more rigid than ribs, shoulder protectors are subject to different tests. Shoulder protectors that are certified bear their own label on the protector.
All styles of Airowear body protectors come with the option to attach shoulder protectors. Wearing shoulder protectors can reduce the likelihood of injury to the shoulder or collar bone area by up to 80% according to one study.
How Airowear protects
Airowear body protectors conform to the European standard EN 13158:2018 and are CE marked to show their compliance to the PPE Directive 89/686/EEC. They are annually retested to ensure consistency of the standard.
Our body protectors also conform to the appropriate BETA standards with the requirement to be annually re-tested. This ensures long-term consistency in the quality of manufacture and of the shock-absorbing foams used in their construction.
The air components of our AyrVest and AirShell layer of the AyrPS are tested to the Satra M38:Issue 3 February 2015 for airvests.
Our air circulation system uses a 60cc gas canister and creates an advanced protection zone that offers greater stopping distances for the body to reduce injury.