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6 Best Horse Riding Body Protectors for Unplanned Dismounts

best body protector
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Written by Annabelle A.

Learn about the best body protectors for horse riding: What they are, how they work, and which are worth wearing.

Wearing a quality helmet is the #1 way to stay safe horse riding. But, there are additional steps you can take to increase your (or your loved ones) likelihood of walking away from a fall. Body protectors are one of the best options to prevent injury.

Here are 6 of the best horse riding body protectors on the market:

Body Protector Type Description
Tipperary Eventer Vest

Foam

Tipperary’s middle ground offering. Lightweight and comfortable, but still appropriate for more advanced riders. Not certified.
Tipperary Eventer Pro Vest

 

Foam

Tipperary’s high-end option. A little bulkier than their other vests, but offers more protection and carries safety certifications. On the pricier side.
Tipperary Ride-Lite Multi-Discipline Safety Vest

Foam

Inexpensive entry level foam option that is suitable for beginners, casual riders, and flatwork.
Ovation Air Tech Vest

Air

Affordable air vest option providing extended coverage. No certifications available and a newer offering on the market.
Hit Air LV Equestrian Light Weight Airbag Vest

Air

A pricier option, but a reputable option that is well liked in the equestrian community. Provides extended coverage and is very lightweight.
Intrepid International Kid’s Safety Supraflex Vest Protector

Foam

Affordable, safety certified option.  Maybe less comfortable than Tipperary options and tends to run small.

Thanks to Sarah Harris for our feature photo!

A Quick Note About Safety Standards & Fit

There is no required testing for a riding body protector. There are, however, multiple certifications that companies may opt to seek.

In order to market their products as “certified,” the manufacturer must prove that they meet certain quality and safety standards. Three common ones worth watching out for are EN 13158:2009, BETA:2009 and ASTM F2681.

While an uncertified protective vest is not necessarily less safe, purchasing a certified version ensures that you are getting a quality item that will help keep you safe.*

*Air vests (vs. foam) do not undergo traditional types of testing, as they are not designed to function in the same way as static body protectors. 

Any time you are buying safety equipment for riding, fit is also incredibly important. Comfort is another factor to consider when purchasing. If your equipment isn’t comfortable or doesn’t fit well over or under riding clothes, there’s a high chance it won’t get used.

Be sure to visit our Frequently Asked Questions at the end, too!

Tipperary Eventer Vest

A popular choice by a well-known company, the Tipperary Eventer Vest is a great all-around pick.

This vest comes in a variety of colors and is available in both youth and adult sizes.

Click to see it on Amazon

PROS:

  • Lightweight and breathable
  • Multiple ways to adjust for a better fit
  • High-quality materials

CONS:

  • Finding the appropriate size can be a challenge
  • Not ASTM/SEI certified

Read Customer Reviews on Amazon

Tipperary Eventer Pro Vest

While the pro version of the Tipperary Eventer Pro Vest will set you back more money and is a little bulkier, this version provides additional coverage, thicker foam, and carries safety certifications.

Click to see it on Amazon

PROS:

  • ASTM and SEI Certified
  • Antimicrobial fabric prevents smells
  • One of the most breathable options
  • Also available in a youth size

CONS:

  • More expensive than the non-certified version
  • Heavier than some options, but still lightweight

Read Customer Reviews on Amazon

Tipperary Ride-Lite Multi-Discipline Safety Vest

The Ride-Lite version of Tipperary’s body protectors is their affordable, lightweight option.

While it isn’t enough protection for a more advanced rider, this is an excellent choice for someone who only rides occasionally on a trusted horse.

tipperary-ride-lite-vest

Click to see it on State Line Tack

PROS:

  • Very lightweight
  • Affordable
  • Suitable for beginners and casual riders

CONS:

  • Not suitable for advanced riders
  • Less protection than other options
  • Velcro closures that can wear out quickly
  • Not ASTM/SEI certified

Read Customer Reviews on State Line Tack

Ovation Air Tech Vest

Air vests are lightweight and offer more coverage than foam alternatives. The Ovation Air Tech vest is an affordable option that is available in both youth and adult sizes.

ovation-air-tech

Click to see it on State Line Tack

PROS:

  • Lightweight
  • Does not the restrict range of motion of the individual
  • More coverage during falls
  • Affordable air vest option

CONS:

  • Will not protect against kicks
  • Cannot be tested for certification like foam alternatives

Read Customer Reviews on State Line Tack

online horse courses

Hit Air LV Equestrian Light Weight Airbag Vest

The Hit Air vest is an option that comes up often when discussing safety vests.

While it is on the pricier side, it is a reputable product that offers a great deal of coverage and has adjustable fastenings to fit a range of sizes

Click to see it on Amazon

Chief Rookie Aside: Read our detailed Hit-Air Equestrian Vest review.

PROS:

  • Lightweight
  • Does not the restrict range of motion of the individual
  • More coverage during falls
  • One size fits all

CONS:

  • Will not protect against kicks
  • Cannot be tested for certification like foam alternatives
  • Expensive

Read Customer Reviews on Amazon

Intrepid International Kid’s Safety Supraflex Vest Protector

The Intrepid International Supraflex vest is a well-priced safety vest that is also safety certified.

It’s considered a Level 3 vest, meaning it will protect against falls that may have caused bruising or some rib cage damage (ie. more impact protection).

Click to see it on Amazon

PROS:

  • Affordable
  • BSI Level 3 Certified

CONS:

  • Run small

Read Customer Reviews on Amazon

Horse Riding Safety Vests Infographic

You’re welcome to use this infographic on your own website *as long as you link back to horse-rookie.local.*

Feel free to share on Pinterest, as well by hovering over it and clicking the Pinterest icon. #knowledgeishorsepower

Horse Riding Safety Vest Infographic

Learn about the differences between body protectors and air vests.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a horse riding body protector?

Body protectors cover a majority of the rider’s torso and are specially designed to absorb the impact to protect your vital organs and ribs against falls and hooves.

They are lightweight and designed with the range of motion used in riding in mind to allow riders to move comfortably, while staying as safe as possible.

How often should a body protector be replaced?

At least every three to five years, even if no visible damage has occurred. After any major fall, you should examine the body protector for indentations.

It’s normal for the foam to compress during a fall or kick, but if after 30-60 minutes, you can still see dents or compressed areas, the foam is no longer usable and it needs to be replaced.

Remember, technology and design are always advancing. So it’s likely that every five years, you may find an upgrade of your existing vest has become available.

How do you choose a body protector?

The two most important things to consider are quality and fit. For the most part, the more you spend, the higher quality and better protection you will get. However, an ill-fitting vest is never a good choice.

You’ll want to find something that fits well, meaning your ribs are completely covered and the bottom allows enough room that the saddle does not push the body protector up on your neck or off your shoulders.

Choosing a manufacturer with a safety certification is always a wise choice.

Body protector vs. air vest: What’s the difference?

A standard body protector uses foam that compresses under pressure, protecting your body from impact.

An air vest is like an airbag for your body. It connects to the saddle with a cord. If the rider falls off, the cord is disconnected, triggering the inflation of the vest.

These vests offer more coverage than a foam body protector and expand up the neck and down the hips, providing additional protection for your neck, spine, and pelvis.

Should I wear a body protector when riding?

While not all riders wear them, body protectors do tend to keep you safer when you ride. You should always wear one when dealing with less predictable horses or riding situations.

When learning a new, difficult skill or performing at a high level, the extra padding is a great way to avoid too much extra risk. They are also an important piece of safety equipment when training horses.

However, even a predictable horse can be spooked or react unexpectedly, so everyone, especially children, can benefit from wearing them even with trustworthy horses.

What’s the best body protector for a child?

Many body protectors come in youth sizes. Determine the level of protection you need, the type of riding your child will be doing, and your budget. Make sure whatever you choose fits your child well.

What is the best cheap body protectors for horse riding?

For a certified option, Intrepid International Kid’s Safety Supraflex Vest Protector is affordably priced.

While not certified, the Tipperary Ride-Lite is a popular choice for casual riders who don’t need as much protection as eventers might and is known for being comfortable for most people.

Protect & Defend (Yourself!)

Ultimately, choosing the perfect safety vest is a personal decision. You’ll need to consider your riding style and level, budget, risk aversion, and even the weather you’ll be riding in.

Whatever you choose, wearing a safety vest consistently can make you safer and prevent avoidable injuries that might keep you out of the saddle.

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About the author

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Annabelle A.

My parents owned a boarding facility and ran a lesson program throughout my childhood, so I was quite literally raised in a barn! As an adult, I've owned and shown two horses and now love watching my own children learn to ride. I also loved watching my sisters show on their college equestrian teams.