More and more riders today ride into the ring with a safety vest/body protector. This provides extra protection for the upper body and neck in case of a possible fall.
There was a period when these body protectors were (almost) never worn. Certainly not on the competition stage. Yet today, more and more riders are choosing to give themselves extra protection, and it turns out that this is not unjustified.
Three years ago Zoë Conter fell heavily during an international competition in Rome. In the process, the rider broke her fifth cervical vertebra. After months of rehabilitation Conter got back on her horse, but since then has rarely or rarely appeared in the ring without a safety vest.
Neither does rider Karen Oris enter the ring without a safety vest.
“A while ago I had a horse in my stable that I fell off of on a weekly basis,” Karen starts. “I then received the safety vest as a gift from some friends and my partner, who is not into horses himself and even thinks it’s crazy that we practice such a dangerous sport with only a helmet as protection. I then started to wear it rather sporadically when I was jumping with young horses. Today I wear it on every horse, whatever age, stout or naughty, high course or low course, at home or at a competition…. From the moment I take one jump I have the vest on. It’s almost like a seat belt in the car: it becomes a habit and after a while you don’t want to go without it,” she says.
“In addition, I think that there is no reason for riders not to wear a safety vest. We see it happen so often at all possible levels. An accident is in a small corner and happens quickly, without the horse or rider being at fault. And if we can protect ourselves against it, why not? Our helmets are super safe and fashionable. Safety vests are also going in that direction so I think more and more people are taking that step.”
“At OK-Stables I recommend it to everyone myself. Most of the people who take lessons from me have already bought one and that pleases me. Finally, it would be nice if top riders could be seen in the ring more often with such a vest. That way they give a good signal to riders, young and old”, concludes Karen.
Photo: Facebook OK-Stables