Required for many competitive activities like eventing, endurance, and some rodeo sports, safety vests and body protectors are becoming popular for recreational riders. They cushion the body and neck during a fall and have proven to reduce injuries.
Vests provide protection only when inflated. A cord or lanyard attaches to the saddle. When the rider falls, the cord activates a trigger with causes the vest to inflate, usually in a second or less. Most of the vests include cervical protection for your neck as well as cushioning for your torso. The staff of Farmhouse Tack in Landrum SC demonstrates how the vests inflate. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gQLegELpXOg
Body Protectors provide permanent, static protection. They fit around your body something like a soft clamshell. They are filled with either foam or gel.
Some manufacturers offer hybrid systems that incorporate both a vest and body protector. The jury is out as to whether they are any more effective than the individual pieces. Fit is obviously important, and each manufacturer has its own instructions, if not video, to explain fitting.
Here are the major vest and body protector manufacturers. Few tack shops carry a wide variety. You will probably have to order online. Check the retailer’s return policy. Some offer free returns, while others require you to pay the return shipping, and others charge a re-stocking fee.
Charles Owen www.charlesowen.com
Hilason. (Very popular with eventers and rodeo riders) www.hilasson.com
Horsepilot Airbag: www.horsepilot.com