02 May Safety Protection Rules and Regulations
What do the new Body Protector regulations mean for riders?
Body protection in equestrian sport has been in the spotlight more than ever before as a result of the new regulations put in place by BETA, the British governing body for equestrian trade. The following article with provide some insight into what these changes mean for riders, how you can be sure your safety equipment is the correct standard and will also discuss how to check when to replace your current protective riding equipment.
The original BETA 2000 standard:
In March 2000, BETA brought together the collective knowledge of riders, manufacturers, retailers and medical professionals to develop the required standard of Body Protection. However, this level has now been outdated with the BETA 2009 standard which is now in place. The reason for this revision was a result of the original standard protectors being a minimum of seven years old if manufactured at the latest date of July 2011. Due to wear and tear as well as the possibility of the protector being subject to impact i.e. falls, then this standard of the product would no longer be suitable for providing effective protection. Although the BETA 2000 level protectors may still be in circulation, it is advised that if your protector is of this level then it should be replaced with the correct 2009 standard.
The BETA 2009 levels and what they mean?
Level 1: Black Label
This level is the lowest level of protection that is recognised by BETA. Level 1 body protectors offer lower impact protection and are only suitable for licensed jockeys when racing.
Level 2: Brown Label
The mid-level BETA standard is the brown label, there are no products currently available that meet this. The brown level offers a lower than normal level of impact protection and is advised to be used in low risk situations. This means that this level is unsuitable for riding on the road or hard surfaces, jumping, riding young or excitable horses and also is not suitable for beginner riders.
Level 3: Purple Label
This is the highest level of safety standard in the world and the recommended level of body protector for riders. This level provides the most effective impact absorption and is suitable for all levels of riding, including competitions and leisure riding.
What level of protection should I be wearing?
It is advised that riders choose a body protector that is BETA Level 3 (purple label) as this offers the maximum level of safety as well as adhering to European standards. For eventing in the UK, it is a requirement that the rider’s body protector is of this standard to ensure that risk and severity of accidents is minimised. Additionally, body protectors should adhere to the European standard of safety (EN13158) which provides manufacturers with the technical specification, levels of shock impact and also the mandatory areas of the body that must be covered. The BETA standards are based upon this safety testing. This level of safety combined with the level of comfort or functionality should inform the decision of what body protector is right for you.
British Eventing Guidelines
In September 2016, British Eventing announced that as of January 2018 the BETA 2000 standard would no longer be permitted at competitions. This was in line with BETA’s standpoint that body protector’s adhering to the 2000 standard would be at least 7 years old and thus not suitable to provide maximum safety in a high risk discipline. Air-jackets have also been highlighted, with British Eventing stating that these must be worn over a BETA 2009 Level 3 body protector.
When is it time to change?
BETA and The British Horse Society advise that body protectors should be replaced every 3-5 years or after around six falls. It is important to remember that after every fall, no matter the severity, riders should examine their body protector to check whether any damage has been done to the foam or any other part of the protector. As well as this, general wear and tear affects body protectors just like everything else and so every time a body protector is worn, it should be checked over before mounting to make sure that there is no damage.
When should I wear a Body Protector?
Many riders feel that they need not wear a protector for varying reasons, such as: only doing flatwork, having 100% trust in the horse or simply because common body protectors do not meet the needs of the rider. Horses are flight animals, meaning that in situations of fear or panic, they become unpredictable and will do anything to remove themselves from the situation – whether it is a flapping plastic bag or a terrifying monster hiding in the corner of the arena. This unpredictability of the animal means that no matter how ‘safe’ the horse is, there is a chance that an accident could happen that could cause injury to the rider. For this reason, we believe that if you are in doubt, a body protector should be worn at all times when riding as well as dismounted if around young or excitable horses. The advantage of the Teqnox Body Protector is that its lightweight, breathable and flexible design means that the rider can ride freely with unrestricted movement whilst still ensuring maximum safety.
Riding Hats – new regulations
Regulations on riding hats have also seen some change in recent years. The EN1384 and BSEN1384 standard of hats are no longer accepted. However, if the hat bears either of these standards alongside another accepted standard, such as: Kitemark or Inspec IC then this is recognised as an accepted standard of safety.
Other permitted riding hat safety standards are:
- PAS 015 with a kitemark (1998 or 2011)
- VG1 with a kitemark
- ASTM F1163 (2004 onwards) with SEI mark
- SNELL E2001 or E2006 with SNELL label and number
- AS/NZS 3838 from 2006 onwards
If riding in a competition, then the officials should be checking hats to ensure that they meet the correct standard of safety.
When should I replace my riding hat?
Like body protectors, riding hats should be replaced every 3-5 years depending on its usage and general wear and tear. It is important to examine the hat after a fall to ensure that no damage has been done that could reduce its level of protection in the future. It is recommended by BETA and the British Horse Society that riders do not purchase or borrow a second-hand riding hat as it is unclear the impact it has had from previous falls and indeed if it is safe to use. Therefore, it is suggested that riders wishing to replace their hat visit a BETA certified retailer for a personalised hat fitting to ensure that the hat is the correct fit as well as appropriate for your discipline.
British Horse Society: http://www.bhs.org.uk/
British Eventing: https://www.britisheventing.com/