We all know riding can be dangerous but there are some things we can do to lessen our chances of being injured. Since becoming a Nurse, particularly after I did a terrifying placement on Intensive Care a few years ago I realised that we all probably know what we need to do or wear to be safer but we just don’t. Perhaps looking at others who don’t or having an ‘easy’ horse we can easily get out of the habit of doing easy things to stay safe. I have really noticed this about body protectors. I think we all have one but why don’t we wear them?!

Body protectors were mandatory at my yard when I was a kid. I wore one every time I was on a horse. When I returned to riding a few years later as an adult I was quite shocked when even my instructors would discourage my use of a body protector in my lessons.

As I was constantly questioned if I really needed mine or asked repeatedly why was I was wearing one. I started not wearing it as I felt like I was being very over the top if I did. I soon never wore one unless I went a cross country and that really hasn’t been often.

Now, I have bought a lightly backed 4 year old I have started wearing mine again. I have noticed on instagram that people usually make excuses if they are filmed or photographed in theirs if they aren’t eventing. But not me! I will be wearing mine regularly because it is gives me confidence and it is the sensible thing to do. I encourage anyone that wants to wear their body protector but doesn’t as it feels too over the top to just do it! You’ll be so glad you did if you do take a tumble.

What bits of me will my body protector actually protect?

Body protectors protect the abdomen and internal organs, thorax (chest and ribs), prevent soft tissue injuries including bruising, lacerations, cuts and contact burns and reduce injury – Charles Owen.

No body protector can prevent serious injury in every situation, but they can increase the chances of staying alive and the severity of the injuries

British Horse Society

Other benefits of wearing a body protector

Posture. When I started riding Gracie in mine, my coach told me it actually really helps with my riding position. Your body is forced into a straighter upright position and for me that makes sitting back easier. I’m certainly not complaining if it keeps me safe and helps me ride better.

Confidence. Now I have started riding in my body protector I can tell you I feel more confident. Riding young horses is always a bit risky, Gracie is pretty good but she is a baby and horses are unpredictable. I feel good in knowing I am the safest I can be with my body protector on.

My mum feels better when I wear my body protector. My mum has always been a nervous spectator. I was an avid show jumper with very little fear back in my teenage years. This brought my mum a lot of worry. For a non horsey mum she was always supportive and involved as she knew how much I loved it. Watching me galloping around was never easy for her but when I tell her now that I am wearing my body protector that always make her feel slightly reassured.

I have made a pledge to myself to continue wearing my body protector as I really like it. I do hope I can inspire more people to start wearing theirs more too and writing this made me realise how old mine is and has prompted me to get a new one that is actually in line with current safety measures! Cringe! I really didn’t realise how old mine is!

Discouraging the use of body protectors is totally silly and we should be doing the opposite! Why would we not wear these things that protect us?! Let’s make wearing them more normal and get rid of the stigma of wearing one.

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