Horse Pilot: Designing technical clothes for the riders who experience riding as a sport. A sport which involves moving, sweating, enduring the rain and sometimes falling down. To meet those needs, we use all the tools offered by textile technology: materials, cuts and a garment construction at allow for posture, breathability, insulation and protection.
If there’s any rule that universally holds true for horses, it’s that you should learn to expect the unexpected. It’s a fact that applies to anyone who sets foot in the irons, from walk-trot riders on up to the world’s best pros. Among the latter camp: Isreal’s Ashlee Bond, who had a scary brush with the unexpected at the Desert International Horse Park in California a few years ago.
“I [was] trying a horse, and I was just hanging out watching someone jump. The horse just reached back so fast and got its mouth caught on the stirrup, and it just went over. I was underneath the horse, and it had to step on me to get up. [Thankfully], it didn’t freak out, it just stepped on me as much as it had to,“ Ashlee says.
“You can’t prepare for those things, they just happen.”
Ashlee’s mishap that day is just one of the reasons why she has taken a hard look at her own safety in the last year and decided to make a change. The rider for Horse Pilot has long been a fan of airbag vests, and is looking forward to adopting them into her program in the coming season.
“I think that little voice in my head was like, It’s stupid not to,” Ashlee says. “I’ve seen that Martin Fuchs started wearing a vest, and [my teamate] Dani Goldstein wears one, and I saw it on a few other people, and I was just like, You, know, why not? What could this hurt?
“I’m a mom, and I just think, also, that it might help to give you an edge because you feel more secure and [more comfortable] pushing the limits a little bit more.”
“We’re jumping really big jumps, why not take that extra precaution? “
Bond’s first-hand experience trying on and inflating Horse Pilot’s vest this fall proved to be the tipping point. Designed in partnership with the award-winning In&motioncompany—a brand specializing in personal protection for skiing and motorcycling—Horse Pilot’s innovative model breaks new ground when it comes to safety, comfort, freedom of movement, and discretion—and that’s just the idea.
“I’m vain enough to care what I look like: I don’t want to look like an Oompa Loompa!” Ashlee jokes. “The Horse Pilot vest is so sleek, and other than the cartridge, from the outside, you really can’t tell that there’s a vest [inside your show coat].”
In addition to the importance of taking her own health and safety into account, “I think it’s a good example to set for the younger kids [as well], and I’m all for that,” she says.
What’s more, Bond notes that the range of coverage provided by airbag vests, from the abdomen and chest up to the neck and vertebral column, can offer greater peace of mind to riders of all levels, be they amateur or professional, weekend warrior or World Cup Finalist. “The vests protect all your vital organs. It goes up to the neck and down to the tailbone,” Ashlee explains.
“I definitely think the vests will [continue to] get more sophisticated as the years go by. Like with the [ASTM-approved] helmets, they used to look really [bulky] to everyone, and now they’ve made them so pretty and sleek. That will probably be the same thing with the vests.
“I think it will just become something that everyone uses. It’s [just] good safety.”
We are excited that Ashlee is setting a good example for those young riders to come and, hopefully, these types of vests become the new normal for riders of all levels.