Horseback riding is for many people the most magical thing in the world. But it also comes with great risk and danger. I'm almost certain that every rider has fallen from a horse. Sometimes we get lucky and escape with no injury or only superficial ones, but sometimes very unfortunate things happen. These injuries lead to painful recoveries and prevent us from riding for a very long time, if not forever. Thanks to modern technology, we don't have to leave our fate to luck anymore. There is more and more equipment available on the market to reduce serious injuries and save lives. We started with riding helmets, and now we're heading into the airbag era.
No more missing training and shows because of an injury!
I started considering airbag vests when I saw a girl who had a bad fall onto a jump but stood up right away thanks to her airbag vest, while I had a not had such a bad fall myself, I had hurt my ribs in a fall and couldn't ride for two weeks. But before I purchased my airbag vest, I had a couple concerns. Is it going to scare my horses when it activates/explodes? And is it going to be uncomfortable and ugly?
It does NOT scare the horses!
Before I purchased my first airbag vest, my biggest concern was that the deployment of the airbag will scare my horses and cause more danger. However I was wrong. Weirdly, our horses who spook at flowers or little birds cannot be more indifferent at the airbag explosion. I remember when I first got my airbag vest, I forgot to unhook the trigger from the saddle when I dismounted and accidentally deployed the airbag. The loud noise made everyone at the parking lot turn their heads, but my horse simply stood there without any movement, like he did not hear anything. I felt embarrassed but was happy to know that the airbag vest does NOT scare the horses. I've heard the same testimony from other riders as well. Also, to avoid the embarrassment, the Horse Pilot Twist Air vest added a red pull to remind the riders to disengage before dismounting. But like everything else in life, once you get into a habit after sometime, you will always remember to disengage before you dismount.
It can also look good!
My second concern about the airbag vest was that it was going to be uncomfortable, restrict my movements during jumping and make me look clumsy. However, they are so lightweight that you won't remember their existence. Most airbag vests have mesh panels on the side to ensure maximum breathability. They can also be slim fit thanks to the super stretchy material. Also like our helmets, they are getting a more and more elegant look, especially worn together with the compatible jackets, then no one will even notice that you are wearing an airbag vest.
Available brands and products
Here I have gathered some airbag products available on the market.
In&Motion company, the airbag vest provides riders freedom by knowing that you are protected in the best way.
- Airbag Vest by Horse Pilot
- Twist Air Airbag Vest
- Deployment speed, comfort, protection zones, breathability, ease and speed of reloading: nothing was left to chance.
- Mesh, this stretchy and breathable material is a true game changer for riders. On the new Twist Air airbag vest, the mesh areas have been extended to the back and side of the Twist’air Airbag.
- Optimised deployment / release system thanks to a more ergonomic piston system.
- The reloading of the gas cartridges has been simplified.
Testimony from JÉRÔME GUERY, Belgian Olympic show jumping rider and the newest World Equestrian Game silver medalist:
I am very, or even sometimes too much careful by nature (laughter). I decided to equip my riders, my family and myself with a Horse Pilot airbag after an accident had happened in my stables. My rider fell off a young horse, she did not go far from remaining paralyzed. Luckily, she was okay. As a father, it is my responsibility to take these kind of measures to avoid dramatic consequences.The Horse Pilot airbag is complete, comfortable and makes you feel safe. It is elegant because it is close-fitting, an important point in our sport.
Freejump by Penelope
- Airlight 2.0
- The lightest airbag vest available.
- Providing optimal protection for cervical, lumbar, sacrum, pelvis and thorax.
- The 2.0 has a new gas canister, which is lighter and quicker. The leash has also been updated, it is now lighter and easier to put back in place after the gas has been set off.
It is available in a feminine plum color and a fun peacock blue color when you're looking to add some colors to your show outfit.
Perfect for a mother-daughter matching look on the show!
Made in France, French brand Equi-Theme has joined forces with one of the first equestrian airbag vest manufacturer Helite to produce a jacket meeting all your riding needs.