I wear one (Racesafe) for everything except dressage competitions. To date, it has saved me from: A smashed pelvis (cross-country - the lower back section was visibly thinner after the impact! Bruising was bad enough to land me in bed for three days) A smashed collarbone (warm-up arena for jumping - fell under the horse and he kicked back onto my shoulder hard enough to dislocate it) A, potentially, damaged spine (flat-work warm up when horse took a vagary and dumped me onto the arena fence)
As with any other safety kit, it also needs to be changed fairly regularly though. They are only expensive if you never have cause to need one, IYSWIM?
My child always wears a body protector, whether in lessons, hacking out, in competitions or in winter, just helping out around the yard. For the first year or so she was riding I dithered over whether to get her and her sister one each. When we moved and got the money for regular weekly lessons I got them both body protectors. Older child gave up riding a couple of months later, and now younger child wears that body protector and also has her own hat. We've had several years use out of both. (I keep meaning to take the outgrown bp along to the riding school to give it to them to sell/hire out for young starters). She has come off a couple of times where the protector had definitely helped. however, I think she mainly wears it for extra warmth in winter, and it is just a part of the whole experience, makes her feel prepared and more confident and ready to ride. It's like shin pads for hockey or a mouth guard for rugby; it won't protect them from all injury, but can help them to be equipped with the right attitude, which is a far more important aspect of safety.
I don't wear one as I don't do cross country etc, mainly hack. I know things can still happen, but I feel too restricted and I'm just too old to get used to it. GD wears her air jacket a lot at the minute, and body protector underneath if hunting or big xc fences.
I have a race safe (and as on another post) have just got an air jacket. The racesafe is great, I felt that if I was going to wear one and make the kids wear one then it needed to be comfortable, I also then didn't need a sports bra! Came off my horse once when he fell over, it did make a big difference to my injuries. My eldest came off quite a few times on a flighty horse and hit the school fencing with her back, hers saved her from severe bruising. However should the horse have stood on her or fallen on her it would have saved her from a lot more (internal injuries) as kids we got in a car without seatbelts and rode bikes without helmets, now we do both so why not a protector. After I looked into the different ones and got that type more adults on the yard asked me about it, tried them And got them (some on lessons not owners) and the shop started stocking them. Before that I was the only adult with one on and most if the teenagers didn't want them. But I wouldn't let my child ride without a hat, it's the same thing for me, no protector no horse. But that's just me, it's what I think and want, I wouldn't call anyone stupid who didn't want one.
Mine's ok when it's warmed up but I have to make sure I have sleeves (not a vest top) as the velcro scratches my arms otherwise. Depends what style you have though I suppose. It does dispense with the need for a sports bra if you are busty as everything is held in pretty well .
I was just going to say the same, will just add that they will protect your internal organs as well, so could prevent kidney damage for instance in the event of a kick. I think the air jackets become rigid when inflated so are much more effective in protecting the neck and spine (and possibly against crushing) but obviously they are only designed to be like that for a short while, whereas the foam ones have to allow more freedom of movement.
Body protectors are designed to absorb impact from a fall (or kick). They are not guaranteed to prevent ALL injuries, but they can prevent some injuries and lessen the severity of others. They generally protect the back, but also the rib cage and collar bones as well.
I don't think they necessarily prevent back injuries, but I think they can reduce the risk in certain situations.
Personally I would not get on a horse without one as they COULD prevent an injury. They are not especially expensive these days either. I don't have a child but if I did I would definitely make them wear one.
Check out the BETA website for more information on body protectors, and if you get one make sure it is fitted properly at a good tack shop.
Also these days some people at my yard are wearing air jackets which inflate when you fall off. I think these are much more expensive than normal body protectors but something to consider.
I see quite a few children wearing these now at riding lessons, and wondered what the general opinion of them was, and how worthwhile they are. I hadn't even thought about them, but DH was asking what the reasoning was. As I understand it, they don't protect against back injuries, only bruising?
DD has riding lessons, does a bit of jumping, but nothing very serious. Do your dc wear them for that kind of general riding? Forgive me for my ignorance, in my riding days wearing a riding hat was the height of safety awareness, and only welloff seriously committed children had proper riding boots / jodphurs etc, now everyone seems to.