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?
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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