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5 Signs it’s time to replace your safety equipment

Although we try not to think about it too much, horse riding is a dangerous sport. We use a wide range of safety equipment to reduce the chance of getting hurt, things like tack, hats and body protectors. This equipment is expensive and so it’s important to know the signs to look out for that it isn’t doing its job and it’s time to think about replacing it


1.      It’s broken

This may seem like an obvious reason, but as horse people we’re all guilty of sticking in a piece of tape or fixing everything with baler twine. If your safety equipment is broken, the fasting on your hat doesn’t do up properly or your body protector has a rip, you need to replace it. If it isn’t working properly then it won’t protect you as well as it could if you have an accident and worst case it might even make the accident worse.


2.      It doesn’t fit

A poorly fitting hat or body protector won’t protect you as well as it could in the event of an accident. If you get it fitted when you buy it, then it should be ok, but the problems come the longer you have it. You might change shape and then a body protector won’t fit in the same way. If you’re younger, then you might grow which will change the areas protected by the equipment. Even if you don’t change shape, over time the material inside hats and body protectors compacts and degrades which will change the shape and reduce its protection.


3.      You’ve had it for a long time

The inside of a riding hat compacts over time which stops it absorbing as much force in an accident. It’s recommended that even if the hat doesn’t look damaged on the outside, you replace it every 3-5 years to make sure that it gives your head the best protection possible.


4.      You change what you’re doing

Different safety equipment is tested for different types of accidents. If you change what you’re doing with your horse and start doing an activity which is higher risk, you may need to update your equipment. This might be a hat which has undergone more rigorous testing (you can find this out by looking at the numbers in the hat), a body protector with extra protection or you might decide to add an air jacket. Some disciplines have rules around the safety equipment you can wear for different activities, so make sure you check these before you book your first event.  


5.      You’ve had an accident

This may seem obvious, but every time you safety equipment takes an impact, it’s effectiveness reduces. This means that even if you don’t have a serious fall, the cumulative effect of lots of little falls will still have an impact on how well your hat or body protector can keep you safe. Even if you have a fall which seems minor, there can be damage inside the hat which can’t be seen on the outside.


If you’re ever unsure if equipment needs replacing, it’s best to get it checked out by a professional. For tack you can have a chat to your local saddler and for your equipment it’s best to go to a BETA approved fitter. If you have a hard fall which results in concussion you can send your hat off to BETA for testing and they’ll send you a voucher that you can use towards the cost of a new hat.

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