Welcome to EN’s Product Review series! Who doesn’t love shopping … especially when the object of your search is new gear for yourself or your horse? While browsing for gear is fun, sometimes it’s just overwhelming to search through all of the products that are available for you and your horse. Companies featured in my posts have very generously provided me with their products, so that I may try them out and share my own experiences with all of you! Of course, every horse and rider is a unique individual, so each product may perform differently for you and your horse then it does for me—after all, different things work for different people (and horses!), and that is all part of the variety of life! This column is meant only for me to recount my personal journey, and share my own and my horse’s experiences with all of the exciting products featured. While I make no recommendations, I hope that you have fun and find entertainment while reading about my many adventures of trying new products, and that hearing about my personal experiences might help give you factors to consider when you are on your own quest for new gear!
It’s an absolute thrill. I mean, the excitement can start as soon as you wake up in the morning. Hoping out of bed, a combination of nerves, coupled with eagerness is the business of the day. In my case, I always tried to nibble on something for breakfast, even though I really was never hungry. I was waiting for the time to arrive. Best case scenario? Probably busying myself with tasks, like grooming my horse (again), or cleaning and double checking all of my gear. Before checking my watch again, that is. Until it was time to get dressed up for my date.
Instead of a party dress though, I don my competition top, breeches and boots. While I don’t reach for a necklace and earrings, I do deck my horse out in his matching gear (because he knows when he looks good). And since reaching for a shrug or scarf to ward off the cold would just be silly under the circumstances, I pull on my protective vest — which is the finishing touch. Thus, I’m ready for my date. With the Start Box. On XC day.
Most of us are absolutely hooked and the thrills and pure exhilaration that is cross country day. I’ll never forget my very first trip around course at a starter trial. Sure, the dressage went well enough, and bouncing around the show jump course was fun … but I felt a sense of elation as my horse carried me up and down the slopes, and through the fields and woods of the cross country course. It’s what made me fall in love with our sport. A great sense of accomplishment settles over you after the successful completion of a course. A safe completion.
As wonderful as the experience of running a cross country course is, it is not without it’s risks. Our horses and partners boldly face many obstacles with us; big drops, solid obstacles and tricky combinations. Accidents can happen, and unfortunately, they do happen … even to the most experienced of us. When I go out on course, whether it be to run a course or just school, I make sure I’m wearing securely fitting safety gear — namely, my helmet and my protective vest.
I’ve worn a number of Tipperary Equestrian vests over my years spent riding and jumping. Over time, I’ve seen the vests change and evolve. Recently, I had the opportunity to try out the newest addition to Tipperary Equestrian‘s line up of protective vests — the Eventer Pro 3015. Since I’ve most recently been used to their traditional Eventer vest, I noticed a number of new and exciting changes when I had the chance to see the Eventer Pro vest for the very first time. Perhaps the most noticeable change that I observed when looking at the vest was the appearance of the construct of the sections.
While the traditional Eventer vest is comprised of many sections that can easily follow the lines of your chest, the Eventer Pro gives the appearance of being more solid looking. The new Eventer Pro is actually made with something called Evolution Foam (Tipperary’s own material), which literally molds to your body while you are wearing it. And not only that, but the vest has also been created using Tipperary’s new method of Tectonic Foam Plating — which is just a fancy way saying that there are actually two overlapping layers of foam contained in the vest, that allow the vest to mold to your form without allowing any gaps in the body of the vest. At all. Another new feature is Tipperary’s Live Spine design, which by molding and flexing with the rider, creates addition protection during an impact.
When I picked up the Eventer Pro 3015 vest to pull it on while getting ready for a schooling session out in my back field, I noticed that it had a solid (but not overly heavy) feel to it. Upon zipping it up, the vest felt like it didn’t just want to sit against my body; it felt as though it wanted to start to mold it to. It didn’t happen immediately, but after a short while of having it on (maybe 5 or 10 minutes), the vest really started to contour to my chest and back.
Something else that was very helpful when I was fitting the vest to myself was the new side laces. Instead of the slow moving process of having someone help pull my laces tight and securely tie them for me, I was able to give a few tugs downward, and tighten a button on the string (with a type of drawstring effect). The great part was, I didn’t need any help at all in adjusting these Flex Lace Closures (which is what the newly designed laces are called) on the vest to help it fit snugly.
There are also additional flaps that lay across the inside of where the laces are, so that there are not openings on the sides. Another great aspect of the vest is the look — in my opinion, the vest is definitely attractive to look at, and it includes several Tipperary Equestrian logos on it. And the reflective trim is an added bonus–it is stylish looking, and also serves as a safety feature.
My rides while wearing the Eventer Pro 3015 vest have actually been enjoyable. Normally, I associate wearing a protective vest with a feeling of being constricted, and maybe a little awkward if I try to twist around too much in the saddle; yet I felt comfortable the entire time I wore it in the saddle. I’ve been starting to school my gelding, Ripley, over jumps again, and let’s say that he gets … pretty excited. To start with, after warm up we spent time running some circuits around the back field of my small farm to get him loosened up and burning off some energy — and so that I could have a chance to see how the vest felt to me.
When I finally started jumping Ripley, he was so excited that he felt the need to rocket-launch himself over them (even though they were on the small side), which I wasn’t quite prepared for. I really liked that I felt like the Eventer Pro was my own set of armor while I was along for the ride when Ripley was launching over jumps … even though the jumps were on the small side, it did give me a sense of being solid, but it didn’t feel bulky or heavy while I was wearing it. I was still able to move freely as I needed, and didn’t have the sense of feeling constricted, or really having my range of motion limited. I have spent time walking, trotting (sitting and posting), cantering, galloping, and jumping in the vest, and it just feels really nice to have on, in my personal opinion.
I’ve even worn it on a number of fairly warm days, and while the vest does feel slightly damp inside from sweating (or glistening, as I like to call it) when I remove it, I did not notice feeling overheated while I was riding. Because of the secure feeling that I get while wearing the Eventer Pro vest, I have actually continued to wear it during all of my schooling sessions when I intend to jump.
If you will be making to trek to spend some time at Rolex this year, chances are you will be watching on cross country day (after all, that’s something on everyone’s must see list, isn’t it?). Well, take a good look, as you’ll have the chance to see Tipperary’s new Eventer Pro vest in action on the course. Tipperary is offering a ‘Dash for Cash’ promotion for Rolex competitors, in which a total of $15,000 in bonus money is available for riders wearing eligible Tipperary protective products, which is evenly spread over the three legs of the competition.
For cross country day, this means the rider wearing the Eventer Pro 3015, has no jumping penalities, and is closest to optimum time will win the bonus for the day. One rider who will be wearing the Eventer Pro while making his way around the Rolex cross country course is Daniel Clasing. Daniel sported the Eventer Pro vest as he piloted his own gelding, Houston, around the Rolex cross country course in 2013. The pair finished 21st at last year’s event, and will they will be returning for another go at this year’s Rolex.
I had the opportunity to chat with Daniel briefly, and he confirmed that he will be wearing the Eventer Pro for his cross country run again at this year’s competition. While we chatted, he told me that the vest “gives you a very safe feel.” And, when he compared the new Eventer Pro 3015 vest to the original Eventer vest, Daniel conveyed that “it is more substantial than the old (vest), but at the same time it doesn’t get in your way.”
While safety is always my number one priority, wearing Tipperary Equestrian‘s Eventer Pro 3015 vest allows me to not only feel safe and be safe, but also comfortable and looking great at the same time. And the vest also does pass both the ASTM and SEI certifications. I do like a number of the new features — especially the double layer of Evolution Foam that molds to the lines and curves of my body, so that the vest actually feels like it is hugging me (rather then just sitting against me).
Plus, I really like the Flex Lace Closures, so that I can tighten my own laces instead of having to wait around so I can pounce on someone to bum help off of. Personally, I think the vest speaks for itself when I wear it — after all, what more can I ask for then to be wearing a vest that fits well and helps me to be safer while my horse is hurling himself over obstacles while I’m aboard?
Go Protective Vests on XC day. Go Tipperary Equestrian. Go Eventing.