Safety wear is appearing increasingly in traditional disciplines, as the showing world tightens regulations and riders turn to modern kit.

Some show riders are now using air jackets to break in and show young horses.

“My staff are strongly advised to use an air vest if they don’t feel confident riding a new horse,” producer Lynn RusseIl (pictured) told H&H.

“We also use them at shows when babies are first taken out for a ride about.”

For the first time, in 2013 Dublin Horse Show required all riders to wear body protectors in classes that involved fixed fences.

“Both the young event horse classes and working hunter horse competitions at Dublin incorporate a number of fixed obstacles, which led to the introduction of the rule as a safety measure for riders,” said a spokesman for the show.

“There was no negative feedback as body protectors are normally worn over fixed obstacles in Ireland.”

But some riders were put out by the new rule. Shirley Anderson, from Co Down, chose not to compete at Dublin last year.

“The expense of buying a body protector is the final straw, in my opinion,” she said. “A working hunter course should be knockable, so I don’t see the reason for them.”

Earlier this month, leading showing society Sports Horse Breeding of Great Britain (SHB(GB)) announced that from 2014, it would be compulsory for all riders and judges to wear safety headgear in all of its classes.

Picture courtesy of LRG photography

This story was first published in H&H magazine (28 December, 2013)