The airbag vest in horse riding: why did so many riders make this choice?

10 August 2020

©Célia Brisset

It’s come back to the competition o’clock. As it was usual before the confinement, the airbag vests will be many on the arenas. It is very likely that we see many riders wearing this garment on their course, as Guillaume Canet and Félicie Bertrand or François Mathy JR. Given that fact, you will probably wonder: why did the airbag vest become a must-have? You will discover all along this article that the new airbags generation vest as nothing to compare with the first prototypes, and I will tell you my secret to find the best one on the market.

Don’t be afraid anymore to make horse riding airbag vest match with fashion and aesthetics

 

Equestrian disciplines are marked by heritage and tradition. In many of them, riders wear elegant, chic and sophisticated outfits. Indeed, fashion has been included in the clothing collections of the horse riding brands for more than 10 years now, offering to the riders multiple ways to complete their style and answer their need for estheticism. It then became logical for the brands to add design features to their protection equipment.

The French company Horse Pilot made design one of the main features of its airbag vest. Developed in partnership with In&Motion, someone who wouldn’t pay attention would definitely confuse it with a sleeveless jacket as it’s so stylish and discreet. Because the vest blows up toward the exterior, it is one of the rare that has a close-fitting cut.

To put more fun in your outfit, a whole range of bombers has been specifically conceived to be worn on top of the air vest/airbag on a daily basis and without obstructing its operation. An elegant show jacket also allows to hide it fully on the competition arenas.

The Airbag compatible range including the AMP bomber and competition jacket for men

But are these aesthetic features enough to explain this exponential growth of the airbag vest? Of course not: comfort is a key feature leading to this choice, and here also, significative progresses have been made on the newest vests.

Why did the airbag vest in horse riding become so nice to wear?

 

The time when we had to hold our breath when wearing back protection is over. From now on, we can practice our sport wearing a thin and highly elastic airbag vest, such as the airbag vest from Horse Pilot x In&motion. Discreet and comfortable, we don’t feel it when we wear it. It allows a total freedom of movement that is highly appreciable.

Thanks to the use of technical materials and the brand’s recognised experience in innovative clothing, Horse Pilot developed an ergonomic airbag vest. The rider’s speed is used to optimize ventilation during training, thanks to Aerotech technology. This way, the airbag vest is not an additional heat source and remains comfortable during summer.

Small details sometimes become key in the daily use. This is why a new magnetic fastening system makes it possible to attach and detach the vest very quickly. You can try to take it off when you get off the horse for those who forget.

The reasons why the airbag vest will not hinder your ride

 

Some riders may be afraid that the movement of their pelvis and back will be impeded by their protection equipment. This concern is no longer relevant today. In addition of being close to the body, the trigger block has been designed to improve ease of movement, especially in jumping. The trigger system is the subject of two patent applications. The originality is its flat appearance, which is made possible thanks to the distribution of the gas within four pistons in the cartridge, as well as its thinness.

 

airbag protection on horsebackAirbag cartridge and strap

 

The lower part of the vest is folded up inside. This allows the rider not to be hindered when riding a horse. Everything has been thought out to ensure that the movements, balance and position are not altered in any way by wearing the airbag vest.

Replace the cartridge of your airbag? A simple method

 

Horse Pilot and In&motion have reinvented the way to recharge the airbag vest after inflation. The process is now accessible to everyone:

 

● a colored marking delimits the level to be reached when unscrewing the screws
● green lights ensure that the pistons are properly positioned.
● as a gift to reward the efforts made, the metal housing of the marble only appears on the last piston if the previous steps have been carried out correctly.
● a system of arrows that can be associated in duo in front of each other reassures on the final positioning of the corks.

To recharge your airbag vest, you will need to know how to screw, unscrew and count in order up to four. The Allen key required is supplied with the packaging and is available in any DIY store if you lose it. Thanks to these smart tips, added to video tutorials available on the web, the process is simple and comforting for the rider.

Safety: tests to ensure the reliability of the airbag vest

 

The good news is that the many advances mentioned above on this product do not reduce its safety reliability.

The Horse Pilot – In&motion airbag inflates on the front to protect the rider’s vital organs in the thoracic cage and the abdomen. The spine is also protected by an inner tube acting as a mattress at the back of the vest. The lower back is preserved by the deployment of two tubes hidden in the lower part of the airbag vest, while the cervical vertebrae are protected thanks to a finely-tuned relationship between support and freedom of movement.

The rider airbag waistcoat inflates at the rear and front to protect the rider's vital areas.

To ensure that the equipment provides maximum safety for the rider, the designers carried out many tests before it was launched on the market. For example, they positioned pressure sensors in the airbag vest and then placed the airbag in a kind of vertical catapult (called “puits de chute”) to check its good shock energy absorption capabilities.

They also conducted aging tests to ensure that the trigger and gas cartridge functioned under all conditions, including several inflation/deflation cycles. The selection of the most suitable materials for the end use of the product was induced by tests on a wide range of textiles and plastics.

Which is the best rider airbag? The secret is revealed

 

All the innovations of the new generation of airbags have been reviewed. We have one final revelation. How to choose the best protection for riding a horse? Just by selecting the one whose comfort and features will make you want to wear it every day. The air jackets on your back will always provide better protection than the one you left in the closet.

 

By Flora Masiuk for Horse Pilot