Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Riding Air Bag!

Has anyone else seen these new riding air-vests? They're geared towards eventers (who are required to wear a safety vest during cross-country), but can be used for any discipline. Apparently, some camps are claiming that they're the greatest safety invention since the helmet, while others feel that they're less effective than standard foam-paneled vests.

(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?


eventer79 said...

I've been following the debates on these closely on COTH. Reed Ayers, whose exactly specialty I can't remember, but does a lot of physics/materials science analysis for USEA, has given them the big fat thumbs down and I have to agree. I won't go into all the details here, but basically, probability of failure, possibility of destabilizing fractures, and changing rider trajectory are the main problems with this product. So far, this vest has been all hype and no science to back it up. I think there has even been a rider fall in which the vest DID destabilize a dangerous spinal or neck injury, although I can't remember her name off the top of my head. The top riders who are wearing these are doing so because they were given to them for free. I saw KOC demonstrate hers last fall at Waredaca during a training seminar. I failed to understand why I needed a life jacket to ride a horse. I will stick to my BETA 3 Rodney Powell, thank you. It doesn't have any fancy strings or poppy noises, but it does its job every time no matter what.

sumaclab said...

I'd be afraid of it popping on impact like a giant balloon and not protecting anything!

SprinklerBandit said...

I've seen them advertised, but I never paid attention to the price. Wow! That is a lot of money.

I don't have one and I'm not likely to ever buy one with that pricetag. I had no idea they were controversial, though. Interesting indeed.

eventer79 said...

sumaclab, that's why it and the Tipperary vests can't get BETA 3 certification, because they do not protect from punctures.

baystatebrumby said...

I am glad to see that some people are thinking of ways to keep us all safe. If they were affordable, I wonder if I would get one? Seems like a great idea! I love that picture of the person on the camel wedged between those two humps. That is so funny. I have always liked camels. I wonder if you could fall asleep up there??

Denali's Mom said...

Lol, if it would work, and be guaranteed to NOT break, I'd try it. Hell at this point I'd try anything.

*off to continue working on seat belt saddle*

Kristen Eleni Shellenbarger said...

LOL that is a lot of cash!!
I like Denali's Mom's idea of a seat belt saddle, but I think I'll invent a shirt with a mat around it so when I do fall, it'll be a gentle plop.
Perhaps we just need shorter, slower horses? lol!!