Body Armour Safety Standards



Leonard Coombe Master Saddlers Body Armour fall  


Many of life's most enjoyable activities also involve risks, horse riding is no different. At one time or another a rider no matter how experienced will probably take a fall, so it is important to wear safety equipment to help protect against serious injury.



Body Protection Made Easy

Whether you’re planning to go eventing, about to back a young horse or just go out hacking, consideration should always be given to body protection.

Designed to absorb impact from a fall or kick from a horse, body protectors are compulsory for some competitions. But an increasing number of riders report feeling more confident - and therefore riding more positively - when wearing one in everyday situations from hacking to schooling over fences.

Another reason many more riders are opting for body protection is that modern garments are more flexible and lightweight than their predecessors. Not only that, 21st century body protectors come in fun, fashionable colours (or plain if you prefer), are quick and easy to put on - and don’t necessarily cost as much as you may think.

A good fit is the key to comfort and safety.

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Body Armour Standards

BETA originally brought together riding organisations, doctors, riders, manufacturers and retailers to develop the now widely recognised BETA Body Protector Standard.

The BETA 2000 and 2009 Body Protector Standard meets all the requirements of the European standard (EN 13158:2000). A revised edition of the BETA 2000 and 2009 standard was published and adopted by BETA in April 2009. The BETA 2000 and 2009 version will continue as a current stanard for the next 2 years. Under the BETA Standard, garments are additionally re-tested annually for consistency of quality of materials used and manufacture.

The BETA Standard sets criteria for shock-absorption, controls the area of the body that must be covered and ensures there are minimal gaps between the protective foam panels. It encompasses three levels, each designed for different activities and denoted by a colour-coded label on the garment.

  • Level 1 (black label) provides the lowest level of protection that is only considered appropriate for licensed jockeys while racing.
  • Level 2 (brown label) offers a lower than normal level of protection so is considered suitable for low risk situations - not including jumping, riding on theroads, riding young or excitable horses or riding while inexperienced.
  • Level 3 (purple label) is considered appropriate for general riding, competitions including eventing and working with horses. Level 3 body protectors should prevent minor bruising that wouldhave produced stiffness and pain, reduce soft tissue injuries and prevent a limited number of rib fractures.

There is a separate BETA Standard for shoulder protectors. Research into 50 falls onto the shoulder during eventing competitions revealed that among the 30 riders not wearing shoulder protection, there were six broken collarbones and two dislocated shoulders, but no fractures among the 20 fallers who were wearing shoulder protectors to BETA Level 3.

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Buying Your Body Protector

Like riding hats the effectiveness of a body protector depends on selecting the right one for the job and correct fitting. All the staff at LEONARD COOMBE MASTER SADDLERS are trained to fit body protectors by the  company that produces the well known Rodney Powell body protectors. Or are BETA trained.  Our most  popular body protectors are from Rodney Powell and Air-o-wear both manufactures offer a huge range of sizes and back lengths as well as a made to measure service. If we don't have one in stock that fits we can take measurements and order you one

Make The Most Of Your Body Protector

Body protectors should be replaced at least every three to five years, after which the impact absorption properties of the foam may have started to decline.

Garments bearing the now obsolete Level 5 or 7 labels will no longer be effective and should be replaced with a garment bearing the current BETA 2000 and 2009 Standard.

If you should have a heavy fall, your body protector should be checked immediately for dents. The foam will expand back to its original shape within 30 minutes; but if a dent is showing on examination, then it’s likely that this part of the garment has lost its impact absorption properties and should be replaced.

Hidden damage that a body protector may have sustained is also a good reason for avoiding second-hand garments or those with unknown histories. Taking good care of your body protector means that it will last longer within the three to five year recommended lifespan. So don’t leave it lying around at the yard or in the lorry to be chewed and trodden on. Spending too much time in a hot car or damp tackroom won’t do it any good either.

When not in use, body protectors should be hung on a clothes hanger. Doing up zips ensures they keep their shape, while closing Velcro fastenings will help prevent them becoming clogged with horse hair and hay particles.

Most body protectors are made from heat sensitive PVC nitrile foam, which is why they feel increasingly comfortable as they soften and mould to the wearer’s body. So try storing your protector in a warm (but not artificially hot) environment to ensure it’s nice and flexible for that early morning ride.

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