How Protective Vests Impact Equestrian Safety

While researchers have looked at the reduced risk of serious injury to an equestrian when he or she wears a helmet, there has been less study into the effect of other safety equipment, including protective vests.
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How Protective Vests Impact Equestrian Safety
A survey showed that 72% of the U.S. Pony Club members that responded own a protective vest. | Photo: iStock
Studies have shown that equestrian sports have a higher injury risk than many other mainstream sports, including football, basketball, and baseball. While much research has been done on helmet safety and the reduced risk of serious injury to a rider when a helmet is worn, there has been little scientific research done on the effect of other pieces of safety equipment on injury prevention, including protective vests.

At the inaugural Horse Industry Safety Summit, held April 23 at the University of Kentucky’s Spindletop Hall, in Lexington, Sarah Andres, PhD, chair of the United States Pony Club’s (USPC) Safety Committee, addressed this topic in her presentation about the importance of protective vests for equestrians.

Andres noted that the USPC collects detailed data in the form of incident reports on any fall or other potentially harmful occurrence sustained by a member. These reports include the age, sex, certification level, type of activity, a description of the incident and any resulting injuries, what protective equipment was being worn at the time of the incident, and any possible contributing factors to the incident.

This data, Andres said, was a key contributing factor in the USPC updating the language in its rules at the beginning of 2019 from “strongly encouraging” to “requiring” riders to wear protective vests while riding cross-country

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