(Sorry, not sure why this is so pixelated!)
This is the Point Two inflatible air vest, which has a long lanyard that you clip to the stirrup bars of your saddle. If you are thrown from the horse, the lanyard activates the release of carbon dioxide into the "airbags," inflating them. They inflate in approximately half a second, so your neck and back are fully protected by a cushion of air before your body hits the ground (well, in theory). It is available from Smartpak for the low, low price of $699-799, depending on size.
Gaaaah! ALL my pics are fuzzy and pixelated -- ???
This air vest is also Point Two, but it is the custom color version. Because heaven forbid you get caught in some generic black air vest. Ick. Cross-country just wouldn't be the same without bright, glaring colors on every available surface of you and your horse. This vest is available in an array of colors, from Bubble Pink to Bright Orange to High Vis Yellow. What's that sound, you say? Oh, I think it's just George Morris's shrieks of horror and disgust. Oh, and by the way, this vest is offered for the bargain price of $839.95 from Smartpak. What a steal -- buy two or three!
For those of you not fortunate enough to have spare fistfuls of cash, don't fret -- there is a slightly less obnoxiously expensive vest available from Hit Air, pictured above and below. It doesn't come in any fun colors, but it does seem to provide exactly the same protection as the Point Two. This one retails for around $450 -- still crazy expensive, but at least it's an improvement.
And, check it out, you can even use an air vest whilst riding a camel! It doesn't exactly seem like a real dangerous sport, camel riding, what with the humps keeping you in place and the general dislike of moving faster than a snail's pace that most camels seem to exhibit. But, hey, I am all for safety!
Apparently, the rules state that, even if you are wearing an air vest in an XC competition, you must still wear a standard safety vest as well. I'm guessing this is because the air vests are so new and maybe haven't been tested/approved. Sounds like a lot of layering for a sport where you are most likely already sweating bullets.
So, what are your thoughts on the air vest? Great idea or total crock?