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Body protector vests

From: Cathy

Dear Jessica, I'm a horse-sense fan and an event rider. I competed at Novice last year and plan to go Training next year. Last year, I borrowed my instructor's body protector vest, but I would like to get one of my own. I don't understand the different protection level ratings. Can you explain them?


Hi Cathy! Congratulations on moving up. The USCTA doesn't actuallly have any particular requirement about the level of protection required -- you just have to have A body protector. Some models are stiff, some are flexible. Some come with optional shoulder pads, some with crotch straps. Fastening methods differ, as do cut and style. I've seen some body protectors that haven't been tested or rated, and others that are fully tested. A lot comes down to personal preference -- and to which models and brands are available in your area. As for the ratings, here's what you'll need to know.

The BETA classifications for body protectors are now listed as Class 1, Class 2, and Class 3. For ease of identification, each class is associated with a particular colour on the label -- Class 1 = green, Class 2 = orange, and Class 3 = purple.

Class 1 (green) is just now being manufactured -- these vests offer the lowest level of protection, suitable for quiet rides.

Class 2 (orange) offers a level of protection that is similar to the "old system's" highest level -- the old BETA 7 standard.

Class 3 (purple) is the highest standard of protection -- and you can tell the difference! These body protectors, at least to me, feel like body armour. They are VERY stiff, and I would worry about the possibility of the body protector getting in the rider's way.

My eventing students ride in Class 2 body protectors -- these seem to combine a high level of protection with enough flexibility for comfortable riding.


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