When looking at the safety of your riders, there is a range of different options available for making the experience a safer one. Here we can look at the different standards for riding hats and for body protectors.
Riding hats are approved by different bodies, but they are all up to an agreed standard to be deemed safe. These are the current up to date standards and a riding hat must meet at least one:
You should be recommending that your clients replace their hats every 4 to 5 years unless the helmet has been dropped or the client has had a fall. Even if there is no visible damage on the outside, there is a possibility that the inner foam could be damaged. This could result in the hat not being able to fully protect your client against a future fall or accident. Having a hat professionally fitted is something that should be strongly recommended for anybody. Most equestrian stores that sell hats offer a free fitting service. This is something that you, as a riding school, could offer if you sell or provide hats. If you have hats to hire out, they should be regularly checked and maintained as you want them to last their lifetime in good condition to best protect your customers.
Through our own experience we have found that, especially for riding schools, a favourite is the jockey skulls. They are a plain hat with no fixed peak. There is the option to buy covers to go over the top to customise it to whatever style you want. These types of hats are essential if you wish to ride Cross Country as the hat should not have a fixed peak for safety reasons.
Even though body protectors are not compulsory, you may still wish to recommend them as an extra level of safety. Standards for body protectors are set out by BETA (British Equestrian Trade Association). These encompass three levels, all designed for different activities with their own colour coded label on each garment. On 1st October 2018, there was a new safety standard which was released. This will run alongside the 2009 version for the next few years as the older stock works through the market. Performance wise, there is no difference in the protection offered, just the 2009 version ceased manufacture at the end of 2018.
For riding schools it is recommended that a level 3 body protector is offered. This is to allow for that extra level of protection whilst learning to ride, however, this is not essential. Body protectors should be fitted correctly to ensure that they are able to absorb the impact from a fall or a kick. It is recommended to look at replacing these every three to five years. This is also a service that you could offer to your clients or recommend your local equestrian retailer if they offer free body protector fitting services.
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