Get Back to Riding in Comfort
Riding horses (and life in general) can inevitably cause some wear and tear on your back and shoulders. Taking preventative measures from a young age is a great way to try to avoid everything from minor injuries to chronic pain.
We’re going to take a look at a few different options to help keep you safe and comfortable while riding and competing.
Overview & Definitions:
There are a few different options when it comes to back braces and body protectors. You can pick which one will work best for you depending on if you’re looking for protection, or a little bit of support.
- Back Brace: A back brace is a device designed to limit the motion of the spine. These are frequently used in cases of bone fracture or in post operative spinal fusion. They are more widely used as a preventative measure against some progressive conditions or to correct posture.
- Body Protector: A body protector is an article of clothing designed to offer protection to a rider when falling off, being kicked, or trodden on by a horse. These cover the chest, stomach area, and back, when worn correctly.
- Posture Corrector: Posture correctors are wearable devices that are designed to support and correct form and posture. These work to align your spine and build muscle memory to maintain healthy posture and teach natural repositioning. These are usually designed to pull your shoulders back slightly.
Why might you need additional support?
Additional support and protection after an injury can help to keep recovery on track and can also help to prevent reinjuring yourself. Of course, you should always consult with your doctor for best practices specific to you after an injury.
Riding horses can be somewhat of a dangerous sport. Taking measures to prevent future injury is crucial. Whether this is preventing chronic pain or a potential back injury, prevention is key to ensure a long career in the saddle.
Any discipline of riding poses risks when it comes to the actual riding or simply being around horses. It’s important to take precautions to try to prevent any injuries or accidents.
Wearing a helmet and a protective vest while riding are always recommended, especially with jumping and eventing where rotational falls can take place.
Poor posture over time can potentially lead to chronic pain and tightness. Wearing a posture corrector helps develop strength in areas of the body that are prone to chronic pain and helps reduce tightness in the neck, shoulders, and upper back.
Good posture also can help to maintain proper form when exercising and reduces the chance of injury.
Extra protection may be needed for riders with injuries, those recovering from injury, or equestrians trying to correct their posture.
There are many factors to consider when purchasing protective gear:
- Bulk: Adding a layer to your riding gear can potentially be bulky and uncomfortable if it’s not fitted correctly.
- Fit: Always take the time to try on new gear to make sure it fits you comfortably and will provide the protection you’re looking for.
- Cost: Price point is another factor to consider when looking for a back brace or body protector. Vests and body protectors are a bit pricey and can range from $100 to $500 depending on the function.
Best Back Support Options
|Back Support Option||Description||Price Point||Key Feature(s)|
|Best Back Brace||Back on Track Back Brace||$||
|Best Posture Corrector||Equestorian Back Brace||$$||
|Best Body Protector||Ovation Adult Comfort Flex Body Protector||$$$||
|Best Posture Corrector||EquiFit Shoulders Back||$||
|Most Protection||Airowear Outlyne Ladies Vest||$$$$||
|Most Comfortable||Tipperary Eventer Vest||$$$$||
Our Top Choices
Best Back Brace
The Back on Track Back Brace provides great support for the lower back. It’s made with elastic straps on each side that allow the brace to be adjusted to your desired tightness.
Back on Track’s Welltex fabric reflects body heat to sooth using thermal warmth.
- Can be adjusted to your desired tightness
- Can be used under and over clothing
- Machine washable
- May not fit all people
- May not be very comfortable for everyone
Best Posture Corrector
You shouldn’t need a 24/7 coach to help improve your posture. Equestorian wants you to be able to practice in and out of the saddle, at your convenience. It shouldn’t take all your time or money either.
This brace is highly adjustable, comfortable to wear, and durably made.
- Improves shoulder and back alignment
- Lightweight and breathable
- May alleviate lower back pain
- Velcro is quite loud and may spook horses
- Fits under clothing but is noticeable
Best Body Protector
The Ovation Adult Comfort Flex Body Protector provides a comfortable and non-restrictive fit.
This vest offers protection and reduces the severity of high levels of energy dissipation experienced during a fall.
- Comes with a zipper for easy on and off
- Won’t affect your riding
- Zipper could potentially break or rip
- May be a bit heavy or bulky
Best Posture Corrector
The EquiFit Shoulders Back is a tried-and-true posture corrector. It can be used while riding, exercising, or while at work.
This is an orthopedist designed nylon vest that gently brings your shoulders into proper position and helps to improve posture.
- Can fit over or under clothes
- Very adjustable
- Not a permanent solution for back pain
- Isn’t strong enough to fully hold shoulders back
While this is one of the pricier options, the Airowear Outlyne Vest provides great protection and is scientifically designed to offer a tailored fit specific to the needs of riders.
It offers air, drag, and impact protection and is one of the best and most supportive vests on the market.
- Molds to your body for added comfort and protection
- Structured across the chest
- May not fit suitably for riders with short torsos
- Can be bulky for some people
The Tipperary Eventer Vest is a great option for those looking for a comfortable and non-bulky protective vest. The vest comes with a Durasport covering with micro mesh inner lining and vented padding.
It features a scalloped lower front and extended back to protect the collar bone and provide more comfort in the chest area.
- Very lightweight and easy to ride in
- Adjustable protection for the lower back
- Comes in a wide range of colors and sizes
- Not ASTM certified
- May be long on shorter riders
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is the most comfortable body protector for horse riding?
The Airowear Outlyne vest is known for being very comfortable and lightweight.
Q: How effective are body protectors for horseback riding?
Using a body protector will not guarantee that you will not sustain a torso injury in the case of a fall. They do help to lower the risk of injury and can potentially minimize an injury you may sustain.
Q: What do equestrian vests do?
Equestrian vests can help in a variety of situations. The most popular vest is one that inflates before impact (when leaving the saddle). These are deployed if you fall off your horse and act like an airbag for your upper body.
Q: Is horseback riding hard on your back?
Lower back pain is very common among horseback riders. This usually stems from strained muscles from a lack of core strength, overdoing it while riding, or improper posture both in and out of the saddle.
Q: What is a horse riding posture corrector?
A posture corrector gently brings your shoulders back to correct posture. Most of these loop around your shoulders and pull your shoulder blades back together.
Adding a vest or body protector is a great idea for all riders. Horses can often be unpredictable and having an extra layer of protection may help prevent serious injury from a fall.
Even something like a posture corrector can help you maintain proper position and prevent injuries down the road.
With many advancements in vest and back protectors, you can find a tool to help feel your best for years to come!
P.S. Enjoy this article? Trot on over to:
- Horseback Riding: What to Wear (With Pictures)
- What gear do you need to ride horses as an adult
- Learning to ride in your 20s: why it’s not too late
- Learning to ride in your 30s: why it’s not too late
- Learning to ride in your 40s: why it’s not too late
- Learning to ride in your 50s: why it’s not too late
- Learning to ride in your 60s: why it’s not too late