28 Apr Wearing a Body Protector Isn’t Cool
When you see someone wearing a body protector in the warm-up before cross country, you would think it was perfectly normal; in fact, it’s so normal that you probably wouldn’t think anything at all. However, if you saw someone wearing one in the collecting ring for dressage or showjumping, that would most likely be a different story. Most of us would assume the rider was very nervous or that their horse was wild. If we were being really honest, we might even judge them for ruining their smart show day outfit.
The question is, why? Why do we judge someone for riding WITH a body protector when in the same breath, we would be horrified if someone rode WITHOUT a helmet? Both were designed to keep us safe while participating in this wonderful yet dangerous sport; therefore, why is a helmet a must-have whilst a body protector is not?
Is the simple answer that it just isn’t cool to wear one?
Over the last few years, the eventing world has seen many falls, but a few in particular shocked us. Mr stickability himself, Andrew Nicholson, was lucky not to be paralysed after he fell from Cillnabradden Evo in 2015, making a “lucky” escape with a severe neck injury. Shortly after that team GB’s William Fox Pitt fell into a coma after his tumble at the Young Horse Championships. More recently, we all watched with bated breath, as Jonty Evens fought his way back into the saddle after a fall left him with a serious brain injury at Tattersalls in 2018.
These three falls brought a noticeable shift in the way people view equine safety, which presented the opportunity for a long-overdue mindset shift towards body protectors. Riders began to question what their lives would look like if a similar thing happened to them. Today we ask you what you would miss out on if you were left seriously injured from a fall?
You might miss out on a season or, as a younger rider, you could miss out on getting selected for the U18s or Junior riders team. You might miss out on playing sports at school or have to skip your exams and watch your friends go off to university without you.
For the more mature rider, a fall could mean you can’t look after your kids. Perhaps you wouldn’t be able to go to work and therefore wouldn’t earn a wage. Could you continue to pay your mortgage and put food on the table?
It’s a fact we are often dismissive of, but a fall, even during the simplest of schooling sessions or on the quietest hack, could result in your life completely changing. Having the correct safety equipment every time you put your foot in the stirrup maximises your chance of walking away from a fall without a life-changing injury. Body protectors might not be cool, but it’s pretty cool that they could save your life.
Here at FOMO, it is our mission to normalise body protectors for every single ride. Prevention is better than a cure, and if doing something as simple as wearing a body protector could save your life, why wouldn’t you?