Possible Changes in Eventing

I’m sure that anyone who is even remotely connected to USEA has seen the new rule change proposals on the docket. Anyone who has read this blog is probably not surprised that one in particular jumps out at me:

  • Helmet and Body Protector Standards: Currently the USEF Rules for Eventing does not state a standard required for helmets, however it does recommend one for body protectors. With the new ASTM/SEI Standard released for helmets, the USEA BOG has recommended parallel wording for both pieces of protective equipment. While the wording is still being finalized, the rule would require all riders to wear a helmet and body protector meeting, at a minimum, the previous ASTM/SEI standard and strongly recommend the equipment meet the newest standard. In addition, body protectors meeting the BETA standards (the European equivalent) will be accepted.
face smashes and body smashes are all bad, but they’re worse in inadequate equipment

I touched on the vest issue a while back, which was met with varying reactions, because I personally feel that the “standard” Tipperary vest that so many people wear is not adequate. That model vest is not ASTM/SEI or BETA approved, and to allow an un-approved vest to be worn on cross country seems more than a little silly to me when you consider that one of the biggest challenges in this sport is safety. We are lagging behind the rest of the world in that department. Once I did my research and upgraded to a BETA 3 vest, the difference was stark, obvious, and substantial. Comparing the two vests is like apples and oranges.

It should be no surprise to anyone that I whole-heartedly agree with and support this particular rule change proposal. I’m sure plenty of people would grumble about having to buy a new vest, but the priority of the sport has to be safety. I can’t imagine that anyone would be upset about the helmet standard… or at least I would hope not.

Although on the topic of helmets, Burghley was once again a disappointment, with only 26% of competitors choosing to don a helmet for dressage. And despite participation in Mind Your Melon promotions and sponsorship by a helmet company, Laine Ashker once again chose to wear a top hat – the only American to do so. Why in the world we still allow anyone to NOT wear an approved helmet for any phase of eventing is beyond me… hasn’t the safety of this sport been publicly scrutinized enough? It’s disappointing that people still continue to chose fashion over safety, and even more disappointing that you apparently have to make rules to force people to wear helmets.

because shit happens, even in dressage

Alas, rant over. Thoughts on the rule change proposal for vests?

29 thoughts on “Possible Changes in Eventing

  1. I WHOLEHEARTEDLY support the rule change. Shit happens. Approved vests and helmets can keep your body from being destroyed by said shit. If you are going to willingly engage in a dangerous sport, for heaven’s sake, why WOULDN’T you want to be wearing the best and most effective safety equipment out there?!


  2. I’m not an eventing person, but I did see that Laine Ashker chose not to wear a helmet during her dressage portion at Burghley (again). I follow her on IG and find it particularly interesting that she has her Laine Ashker Eventing branding here, there and everywhere, but still chooses to wear a top hat for dressage. It seems odd to me, as naive and as crazy as my opinion might sound, that someone so concerned with self-promotion would choose fashion over safety, when she knows that so many people watch her. You’d think she’d want to be looked at as a role model by younger riders to be as safe as possible, but apparently that isn’t where her priorities are.


    In other news, I’m all for stronger guidelines for vests and helmets. Because safety.


  3. I feel like if you’re going to wear a vest, why not wear the safest one possible? I think for once the USEA has gotten something right 😉


  4. Definitely a step in the right direction with the rule change.

    I was super disappointed to see LEA in a top hat for Burghley 😦


  5. I always get up on my soap box about helmets, have even ruined friendships over the issue. I just can not fathom why anybody would want to get up on a 1000+ pound animal with a strong flight instinct and not wear at least a helmet.
    I thought it was required to wear helmets in dressage, or is that only USDF shows? I know there was a big to-do about it a few years ago and the rule was changed to while actually riding the test a helmet had to be worn. Riders could still go sans helmet while in warm-up which to me defeats the purpose.


  6. I’ve now fallen off and hit my head 4 times. I was only jumping 2 of those times. 2 of those falls resulted in concussions and my fall this past weekend would have resulted in a 3rd for sure if I hadn’t been wearing my helmet. Head injuries are no joke. Even if every helmet you buy is $600 and you fall off multiple times, you’ve still saved your head, which can’t be replaced for an infinite amount of money. I have ridden without a helmet on occassion, but I won’t ride without one ever again. I really can’t risk any more head injuries. I get if you’re not pro-helmet and you’ve never been injured, but Laine Ashker has been injured severely and I would think that after that you’d be an advocate of any type of protective gear possible. Evidently that is not correct. As for vests, I think safety standards are definitely warranted. The USEA is a bit behind the ball on that in my opinion, but better late than never. I’m sure people will be pissy if they have to go out and buy a new vest, but it will save them money in the long run if/when they do fall off.


  7. i believe in safety and think that a rider will almost never regret being too careful. i wear my helmet and my vest, and encourage others to do the same.

    my frustration with this subject comes from a different direction – the price tag. the fact that slapping the word ‘equestrian’ on anything makes the price skyrocket, and there seems to be a high correlation between the *safest* equipment and the most expensive. today it is not unheard of that a new helmet and vest can add up to nearly $1K.

    sure, in the grand scheme of things that’s a small price to pay for our health and well being, and what’s another $1K on top of all the other dollars we spend on this hobby? …but at what point does it become cost prohibitive?

    i *know* my tipperary isn’t the safest vest on the market, but it’s what i have and i am not at all eager to go buy something better. and if it comes down to deciding between paying for a vest or for show entries/lessons/whatever riding activity, generally i choose to ride. so yea… it’s frustrating to me.


    1. Luckily there are cheaper options. There are helmets under $150 that are just as safe, and buying a better, approved vest can be as cheap as $100. Less than a Tipperary! Sure it’s easy to spend a lot of money, but the market is not devoid of budget friendly options either.


        1. Shop for BETA 3 vests from the UK. The Harry Hall Zeus, Rodney Powell Tabard, and Equi-Theme are all about $115 new. Or you can shop Ebay UK used and look for the 2009 BETA 3 safety label and keep an eye on the manufacture date (vests have the same 5 year recommended useage as helmets). If you’d rather shop in the US the Intec Crusader is ASTM approved and is about $160. The one I bought, the Airowear Outlyne, is $255 shipped from Riding Warehouse with a 15% off code (which I can get you). That’s the same price as a Tipperary Eventer.


          1. thanks – that’s super useful. i actually quite like the look of the harry hall zeus… so i guess what i would love to see in tandem with stricter safety rules is improved visibility of and accessibility to protective gear that won’t break the bank.


            1. I think if the rule change passes, US tack shops will be forced to carry and offer more options. Right now they really don’t have a reason to offer much more than the Tipperary since that’s what most people buy. The tide has already started to turn though, I think, in the past year or so with people seeking out better safer vests. If EVERYONE suddenly needs an approved vest, the tack shops who are wise enough to fill every price range with multiple options will do well for themselves.


  8. Honestly? To me the whole thing reads like misdirection.

    Eventing has a huge image problem right now, so they’re saying that everyone (well, ~75%) of competitors need to go out and spend more money on safety equipment.

    Except they cannot point to any statistic indicating that ANY of the accidents/deaths they’re had even just recently would have been in any way altered or improved with the use of said safety equipment.

    So while a so-called safer vest is probably a good idea, it looks like slapping a Hello Kitty bandaid on a compound fracture and and saying “man up” to competitors who aren’t the problem in the first place. I’d be more in favor if they did one shred of research or hired outside consultants or LITERALLY ANYTHING evidence-based to actually improve safety levels for competitors instead of saying “classic or Japenese?” as they slap that bandaid down.

    But hey. I don’t have a dog in this fight.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Actually there have been a couple falls lately involving Tipperary vests that have brought into question their use and our vest safety standards, which is probably what spurred all of this in the first place. But I do agree that more research needs to be done both on the sport itself and on our safety equipment (BETA has done a lot, we’ve done almost none) especially regarding air vests. They allocated a lot more money toward research lately, and I myself have been participating in an ongoing safety study, so I guess we’ll see in the next few years what they come up with.


      1. Personally I think USEA should require BETA 3 vests precisely because of the research BETA has done. Why reinvent the wheel? Why not require the maximum level of safety? As you state, its not really about cost – there’s affordable BETA 3 vests out there, and more will be available if this rule passes.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Yeah I just don’t get the no helmet thing. My boyfriend never wears one and it drives me crazy. When he rides with me I force him, because otherwise I spend the ride staring at his baseball hat predicting doom. Just don’t get why anyone, professional, ammie, eventer, h/j, dressage, trail rider, would intentionally put themselves in harm’s way like that.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Definitely seems like a step in the right direction… it kind of surprises me that there weren’t more rigorous standards sooner, but that does seem typical of many of the equine sports organizations in the US–they kind of drag their feet.


  11. It’s about time! It’s too easy to have a fall at any point at XC, not just over a jump. Dandy and JLE had one just last weekend because he lept in to the water and slipped. The video is scary! Approved vests at all times. The end.


  12. Approved vests and helmets seems like a no brainier to me… When I was shopping I didn’t even look at Tipperary which meant I had to order online. We have the same vest and it is much more substantial than the Tipperary. It makes me cringe to think about people disregarding their own safety.

    Yeah it might be more fun to spend the money on a show… But there will always be more shows… You only have one body!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. So I just found your blog and this was the first post I read. Wholeheartedly agree with the proposed change because when my horse threw me over a bank and into the water complex of an xc course back in 2004, I hit the log in the middle of the complex and shattered my L4 and L5. Helmet saved my life, but Tipperary vest did nothing to protect my back. A back surgery later, some rods/screws put into place, and I didn’t ride again until 2010. I’m starting back eventing with my baby OTTB and got myself an Airowear Outlyne- love that sucker!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Equestrian safety equipment is about mitigation, not prevention.

    All statistics can do is quantify the damage, and they don’t really illuminate the complex circumstances of a horse + rider accident. There are too many variables for that. They also don’t encompass what might have been. Concussion vs tbi, broken back vs paralysis, life vs death.

    Purchasing and wearing the most effective safety equipment you can afford is a no-brainer, and riders shouldn’t need rules to enforce that concept.


  15. I am all about upping safety standards! It’s honestly a good thing that my body type is all wrong for Tipperary vests because they ARE super comfortable. However, we HAVE the technology: we can make vests that are safe AND comfortable. We do not need to choose.


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