THE Exo body protector from Woof Wear differs from other body protectors because it has an Exo-Skeleton — an extremely strong magnesium alloy frame that acts as a “roll cage” in the event of a fall. Who uses it and what is it like to go cross-country wearing one?
Who uses it?
ADVANCED eventer Laura Toogood started using the Exo body protector before Bramham 2005. Other riders, including Kitty Boggis and Tom Robinson, have also competed in one.
Is it difficult to ride in?
NOT according to Laura Toogood.
“You do notice at first that it is slightly heavier than other protectors, but because of its design the weight hangs on the soft internal straps rather than on your body,” she says. “It doesn’t restrict your movement and I was able to navigate the twists and turns at Bramham in it.
“Perhaps it’s not very easy to turn and look directly behind you, but how often would you want to do that across country?
“Now I’m used to it, I wouldn’t go back to using a normal body protector. I feel so much safer riding in the Exo,” adds Laura.
Does it work?
WHILE no body protector can completely protect a rider, the Exo represents a safety advance because of its weight-bearing capacity.
“I fell off at the second last fence in the under-25 section at Bramham last year, and wasn’t hurt,” says Laura. “I’ve also done the test where I lay on the floor in the protector, and my mum stood on top of me — I couldn’t feel her at all.”
What else is there to know?
THE Exo-Skeleton, which follows the contours of a human ribcage, is integrated into high-impact absorbing foam. The protector opens at the shoulder hinges, and comes with an Allen key to undo the shoulder bolts in case of an emergency.
It is adjustable at the shoulders and waist, moisture-wicking and water-repellent. The Exo is kitemarked to BETA standard 3, the highest level. It costs around £275.
Woof Wear Tel: 01208 262505 www.woofwear.co.uk
This Q&A was first published in Horse & Hound (7 September, ’06)