2023 Irish Equestrian Safety Standards: Hats and Body Protectors

The hat standards for various equestrian organizations, including Eventing Ireland, Dressage Ireland, and the Association of Irish Riding Clubs (AIRC), are summarized as follows for 2023:

**Eventing Ireland:**

- Protective headgear is mandatory at all times, regardless of the competition level or phase (Dressage, Show Jumping, Cross Country).
- Accepted standards for protective headgear include both European and American standards. These standards specify the safety criteria that helmets must meet to provide adequate protection for riders.
- European standards include PAS 015 (2011) and VG1 01.040 2014-12. For added assurance, helmets should have the BSI Kitemark or Inspec IC Mark.
- American standards include ASTM F1163: 2004a and subsequent updates, as well as American Snell 2016. Snell certification combines a safety standard with quality testing.
- Australian & New Zealand standards are met by helmets that comply with AS/NZS 3838 (2006) and any subsequent updates.

**Dressage Ireland:**

- Similar to Eventing Ireland, Dressage Ireland also mandates the use of protective headgear at all times while mounted.
- Accepted standards for protective headgear align with those used in Eventing Ireland. Riders can choose helmets that meet European (PAS 015, VG1 01.040), American (ASTM F1163, Snell 2016), or Australian/New Zealand (AS/NZS 3838) standards.
- PAS 015 (1998) and SNELL 2001 standards are no longer acceptable due to their age and potentially outdated safety features.

**AIRC (Association of Irish Riding Clubs):**

- AIRC adopts a similar approach, requiring protective headgear to be worn at all times while mounted in Riding Centres.
- The organization accepts protective headgear that meets the same European (PAS 015, VG1 01.040) and American (ASTM F1163, Snell 2016) standards. Additionally, Australian/New Zealand standards (AS/NZS 3838) are accepted.
- The CE Mark, a European conformity marking, is not considered sufficient on its own as it must be accompanied by one of the other specified safety standards to be accepted.
- PAS 015 (1998) and SNELL 2001 standards are no longer accepted due to international safety standards.

**Pony Club:**

Protective Headgear must meet one of the following standards:

- PAS 015 (2011) onwards with BSI Kitemark or Inspec IC Mark.
- VG1 01.040 (2014-12) with BSI Kitemark or Inspec IC Mark.
- ASTM F1163: 2004a and subsequent updates.
- Snell E2016 (Snell combines a standard with subsequent quality testing, therefore no additional quality testing mark is required).
- AS/NZS 3838 (2006) and any subsequent updates."

**Common Points:**

- In all these organizations, top hats are not permitted during national competitions, as they do not provide the same level of protection as certified safety helmets.
- Athletes are strongly encouraged to regularly inspect their headgear, especially after a fall or any impact, and replace it if it shows signs of damage. Safety helmets are designed to absorb and distribute the energy from an impact and may need replacement after a significant impact to maintain their protective capabilities.
- Each organization has its own hat tagging system to verify that the helmet meets the safety standards and is up to date with the current requirements.

These hat standards are in place to ensure the safety of riders in various equestrian disciplines and are in line with international safety standards to minimize the risk of head injuries during horse riding activities. Riders are encouraged to prioritize their safety by selecting appropriate, certified headgear and replacing it when necessary.


The standards for body protectors in various equestrian organizations, including the Irish Pony Club, Eventing Ireland, and the Association of Irish Riding Clubs (AIRC), are outlined as follows:

**Irish Pony Club (IPC):**

- From January 1, 2024, body protectors meeting the 2009 standard will no longer be permitted. The only accepted standard for the IPC is the Beta 2018 Level 3 Turquoise Label.

**Eventing Ireland:**

- A body protector that is mandatory for cross country, cross country schooling, and whenever a body protector is worn.
- Accepted body protector standards include EN 13158: 2009 Level 3 or BETA approved, appropriately labeled as a "Level 3 body protector," with the year 2009 or later indicated on the label. The BETA 2000 body protector standard is no longer permitted.
- Competitors are strongly recommended to check their body protectors regularly and replace them if damaged.
- The body protector should not impede flexibility or balance, and Stewards may randomly check them for compliance.

**AIRC (Association of Irish Riding Clubs):**

- Level three (purple) or higher body protectors are compulsory for cross-country events.
- It is recommended to use body protectors during show jumping as well.
- Members are advised to ensure that new body protectors are Level 3 (purple) from 2009 or Level 3 (blue and black) from 2018 or onwards.
- From January 1, 2024, body protectors labeled as Level 3 from 2009 (purple label) will no longer be accepted. The 2018 Level 3 purple label will be the only acceptable standard from the following year.

**Inflatable / Air Jackets:**

- It is recommended that competitors wear air jackets for any jumping phases (for both training and competition).
- If a competitor chooses to wear an airbag-style body protector, it must be worn over a permitted body protector for the cross-country phase.
- Inflatable/air jackets may be worn for the show jumping and dressage phases without a body protector.

It's important to note that these standards may change over time, so it's essential for riders to stay updated with the latest safety regulations and requirements of their respective equestrian organizations.