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‘It could save my life but I won’t wear it’: rider speaks out on body protector stigma

An amateur event rider who broke her back in a fall has spoken out in an attempt to understand and help decrease the stigma attached to wearing body protectors.

Darcie Lattin, who suffered a compression fracture to a vertebrae in a fall at home in 2017, now wears a body protector at all times in the saddle.

She shared her thoughts on her Facebook page The Broken Eventer.

“I feel like there’s a lot of stigma against wearing them and I don’t understand why,” she told H&H.

“As someone who’s had a bad accident, I can’t imagine why you wouldn’t want to protect your spine.

“I don’t want to shame anyone into wearing one, it’s more ‘If you want to wear one, wear one’.”

Darcie said she knows higher-level eventers who will not wear body protectors, other than for cross-country where they are compulsory, as they do not want to look novice or incompetent.

“The stigma’s more than we think it is,” she said. “It baffles me.

“After my accident, I mainly did dressage and would warm up in my body protector and no one would say anything. But when I went to go in the ring, people I didn’t know would say ‘Aren’t you going to take that off?’

“When I said no, they’d pull a face. It seems they’re associated with novice and nervous riders and unless you’re in the cross-country start box, people look at you like you’re completely out of place.

“These are just my experiences, but I think the industry could change for the better.”

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Darcie thinks leading figures on social media could help change thinking.

“I think as a community, we’ve got a responsibility to say ‘If you want to wear one, we encourage you to’,” she said. “It’s not a negative to wear one, it’s positive, and if the people around you can’t see that, and support you, you’re around the wrong people.

“I was very lucky; I was on a ward with people who weren’t so lucky and that’s why I’m passionate about this.

“People look at a body protector and think ‘That could save my life — but I’m not going to wear it’. That’s crazy.”

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