I am glad to see the FEI Eventing Committee have released a position on the Air Vests. The FEI have released this press statement late last week:
8 Sep 2010
Following a meeting of the FEI Eventing Committee evaluating the potential of air vests in overall rider safety on the Cross-Country phase, the Committee has recommended National Federations and riders to keep themselves informed of all the latest developments and to consider the potential benefits of their use.
The Eventing Committee will continue to monitor the evolution of this equipment, for which there are currently no internationally recognised industry standards. As part of its FEI Eventing Risk Management Policy and Action Plan, the Eventing Committee is fully committed to continuing the collection of data on all aspects of safety in the sport. Specific data on air vests will need to be evaluated in detail before any further advice on their use is issued.
“There is no doubt that air vests represent an important development in rider protection, but protective clothing is not the magic solution to rider safety. It needs to be considered in combination with active measures such as correct training, responsible riding, course design and fence construction”, Giuseppe Della Chiesa, Chair of the FEI Eventing Committee, said.
The one issue I have with this statement is that they have not come out with a clear position on the use of the vests with or without a traditional vest. The USEA rulebook states;
2. PROTECTIVE VESTS.
a. A body protecting vest must be worn warming-up for and in the cross-country test.Stable, team or club colors are permitted. The Federation recommends that the vestshould pass or surpass the current ASTM standard F1937 or be certified by the Safety Equipment Institute. Inflatable vests are permitted only when worn over a body protectingvest. EC 3/15/10 Effective immediately
This is a clear and instructive rule that has been in place since March 2010. I think most people are in agreement that there are some circumstances that an air vest will not deploy and thus it is not recommended as a replacement to a normal vest but is to be worn in addition to a normal vest.