Better to be safe than sorry…safety wear online versus in shop

You would not dream of getting on a horse without a riding hat these days. An up to standard, correctly fitted and well made hat. One that a BETA qualified fitter has spent time fitting to your head. One that is up to standard and legal. Yes?

The same goes for a body protector doesn’t it? You would expect a BETA qualified fitter to assist with your purchase and make sure the measurements and fit are just right for your body? Check that it offers the correct level of protection when you sit in the saddle and is up to standard and legal of course.

So what about if you decide to purchase your safety gear online then? Who is there to help you? To measure you? To check the fit? And is it safe to buy online?


Most hat manufacturers recommend that you visit a qualified BETA fitter before you make your purchase. Taking measurements correctly is paramount to achieving the correct fit to provide the most effective protection for your head. Keeping the tape in the right position, making sure it is level for example, can be tricky if you are trying to do this alone. Surely your head is worth the best level of protection possible? Making sure you have a qualified fitter check, measure and fit your hat is paramount. Buying online is perhaps okay if you are replacing like for like, after a fall for example. But isn’t it wise to have your head measured every time?

PAS015, ASTM F1163 SEI, or SNELL E2001 E2016 – do you know the standards or even if they are legal?
For a full list of current 2018 safety standards for riding hats check the BETA website.


New body protector standards for safety came into force this October with Level 3 still being the optimum level for protection and one that BETA recognises and approves for competition use. The following gives a guide for the levels available:

Level 1 – Black Label
Providing a lower level of impact protection. Only considered appropriate for licensed jockeys while racing.

Level 2 – Brown Label
Providing a lower than normal level of protection. Only considered appropriate for use in low risk situations. These DO NOT include riding on roads or jumping.

Level 3 – Purple Label (now recognised as blue)
Suitable for general riding, competitions including eventing and working with horses. Level 3 body protectors should prevent minor bruising that would have produced stiffness and pain, reduce soft tissue injuries and prevent a limited number of rib fractures.

You need to measure the chest, waist and spine. Also the measurement from the waist over the shoulder and down the spine – ideally whilst sitting in the saddle. This can be super tricky to do alone! Plus the tape may move or not be held tight enough. It is vital for the measurements to be correct over clothing you would wear for riding and/or competing. Checking fit and move-ability too. Can you really do all this alone to buy online?

So should you buy online or instore?

Here at Selwood Equine we have made the decision not to sell safety gear online. We strongly believe you need to be fitted in person by a BETA qualified fitter for your hat and body protector. To make sure you obtain the best possible fit. One that provides you with the optimum level of protection, comfort and wearability. This, in our opinion, can only be achieved in store.

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