EQUESTRIAN: Making safety fashionable

There have been some changes in the attitude of riders towards safety equipment in recent months and what used to be considered only something amateur riders might wear, has started to become a regular sight in the warms up of 1* to 5* warms up.

Whether it be because riders have witnessed some life changing accidents in the ring or that just like when riding hats became compulsory for all riders at all shows, safety is becoming more prevalent in our high risk sport. I chatted with some of the riders who have chosen to make wearing protective clothing in the ring a habit….

MARIEL AGUIRRE – is based in Belgium at Stal Augustsson Zanotelli with her team of horses.

photo credit – ARAL PHOTOS

Which back protector do you wear?

I wear a back protector from Dainese called the pro armor body protector.

When did you start wearing it?

I started wearing it last year after a very stupid fall that resulted in me breaking two vertebraes.

What made you pick that particular model/make?

I wanted to find something that would obviously protect my back, that was breathable, flexible, easy to wear everyday and that could fit under my show jacket. I also wanted it to be certified level 2 protection. I tried a few and this is by far my favorite.

Do you wear it at shows? Home? Flat? Jump?

After my fall I wore it every single day to ride every horse. I don’t do that anymore, but I do still wear it every time I’m doing any kind of “exercise” at home with the horses and of course every time I jump. It’s crazy how most accidents happen at home over the smallest jumps. I don’t want to regret not having it on one day just because I couldn’t be “bothered” to put it on. I fell in such a stupid way over a 1 meter oxer. If I would’ve had it on, I probably wouldn’t have had that injury.

photo credit – ARAL PHOTOS

What made you start to wear one?

I was in the warm up at CSI4* Samorin and was jumping my first oxer, about 1 meter high and the next thing I woke up in the helicopter on the way to the hospital. It was extremely scary because I had no idea what was going on. I broke two vertebraes, bruised all my ribs, and had a collapsed lung. I was in the ICU for 24 hours and then in a recovery center for 1 week before I could fly home.

Do you feel different when wearing it?

I was never afraid of riding again, but I was afraid of how quickly everything could change. I knew I wanted to protect myself moving forward. It was a bit strange at first, but now I don’t even feel it. I forget it’s there and if I ever don’t have it on, I feel weird.

Do you wear a hat when riding?

Yes 100% always. I never get on a horse without it. Nobody in our stable does.

Do you think we will start to see more and more riders wearing air vests/back protectors?

I would say that up until this summer, I always felt like I was one of the only riders wearing a body protector. I was sometimes self conscious about it, but I felt smart for taking action. Now, you see more and more riders wearing some kind of protection at every show. In other sports, wearing protection means that you are going to essentially risk everything to win. In our sport, wearing protection is often seen as “amateur”. Some of the brands are doing a great marketing job with the best riders in the world to spread the word and kill that negative image. I think it’s great and I feel less alone!

You can follow Mariel on instagram @marielagu

photo credit – Alexa Pessoa

ALEXA PESSOA – bases between Belgium and the USA running Amethyst Equestrian, a training and competition stable with her husband Rodrigo.

Which air jacket do you wear?

I wear the Dada Sport show jackets and training vests over the Helite airbag vest

When did you start wearing it?

I started wearing it in 2017 after my second daughter was born and I wanted an extra layer of safety as I got my bearings.

What made you pick that particular model/make?

I had just met Caroline from Dada Sport and when she showed me what she had developed I was so impressed with how well concealed the airbag was in their jackets.

Do you wear it at shows? Home? Flat? Jump?

I always wear it to show and to train at home. I have a more casual, sleeveless, training vest that it zips into for days at home.

Do you feel different when wearing it?

Once I got used to riding with it I never really looked back. It really makes me feel safer in the saddle. Now, if I didn’t have it on I would feel exposed, much like being in a car without a seatbelt.

Do you wear a hat when riding?

I always wear a helmet to ride. No matter what.

Do you think we will start to see more and more riders wearing air vests/back protectors?

I do see more people buying them which is a wonderful trend. The more normalized it becomes, the better!

https://www.dadasport.com/en/airbag/656-comic-star-airbag-jacket

You can follow Alexa and her team on instagram @ameythyst_equestrian

photo credit – Alexa Pessoa

ALEXANDRA CROWN – is based and trains with Stephex stables and competes both in the USA and Europe.

Which air jacket do you wear?

I wear the Dada Comic Star airbag show coat with the Helite airbag zip in.

photo credit – Ahmed Al Maawali

When did you start wearing it?

I started wearing it about a month and a half ago.

What made you pick that particular model/make?

I chose the Dada jacket as I thought the design was very flattering and I really like that you can barely notice the airbag! I also did a bit of research into the Helite company and it seemed like the technology was very advanced, which definitely made me feel very comfortable about my decision!

Do you wear at it shows? Home? Flat? Jump?

So far, I have only worn the airbag jacket in competition. However, I just got the Dada Carthago vest which the airbag zips into, so that I can wear it whenever I am jumping at home.

What made you start to wear one?

I saw Zoe Conter wearing one, and really liked the idea of wearing some sort of protection. When you think about how dangerous this sport is, it starts to seem a bit strange that we don’t wear anything to protect ourselves!

Do you feel different when wearing it?

As for the jacket itself, I don’t notice the airbag at all once it is on! It may sound a bit silly, but I actually do feel more confident when wearing the airbag. It gives you one less thing to think about and makes you feel much safer.

Do you wear a hat when riding?

Yes, I always wear my helmet!

Do you think we will start to see more and more riders wearing air vests/back protectors?

I really think they are going to become much more popular, and hopefully eventually become the norm!

photo credit – Ahmed Al Maawali

You can follow Alex and her team on instagram @alexandracrown

Products featured can be found using the following links:-

https://www.dainese.com/gb/en/safety/back-2/

https://www.dadasport.com/en/

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