A brand of inflatable airbag safety jackets have been approved for use in competition by British Dressage.
The Helite Air Shell Gilet, made from a soft shell fabric and distributed by Treehouse Sporting Colours, is allowed to the Helite Original Jacket could be worn over a show jacket or tail coat, and “would both be acceptable and permitted under BD rules”.
The Helite Air Shell Jackets are based on an interchangeable airbag system, which allows different outer jackets to be worn. They have a soft shell outer, airbag and multi-directional trigger system. Treehouse said the jacket has the fastest inflation speed on the market of just 0.1 seconds.
Treehouse had noticed an increase in the numbers of dressage riders ordering air jackets on their stand at shows, prompting a question top British Dressage about the garment’s use in ompetition.
“I think all riders are taking safety seriously now, rather than just those who gallop and jump a lot,” said Treehouse’s Director Theresa Morris.
“At the end of the day, anyone can have a fall and an air jacket gives riders peace of mind they are well protected should the worst happen.”
Helite was founded in 2002, after Gérard Thevenot had spent almost 30 years in the Hang Gliding industry, as a pioneer, manufacturer and main engineer for his own company La Mouette. The first idea behind Helite was to develop an airbag for hang glider pilots. Gérard won a prestigious French innovation award, for his first airbag. This was followed by a motorcycle air jacket, and the Air Jacket for Riders followed quickly after as the triggering technique was similar to motorbike sports.
Helite Air Jackets are the choice of many top riders, including event riders Gemma Tattersall and Emily Llewellyn and showjumpers Louise and Joe Whitaker.
The vests became well know under the name Point Two, but from last year Helite started selling the product under its own name.