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August 1, 2023

USHJA Launches Equestrian Safety Vest Research Campaign Pledging $100,000 towards Fundraising Efforts

Informational webinar with USHJA Safety Committee Chair Joe Dotoli and Virginia Tech’s Dr. Stefan Duma and Dr. Barry Miller scheduled for Tuesday, June 20 at 7 p.m. ET. 

Lexington, Ky.—June 19, 2023—The U.S. Hunter Jumper Association is proud to launch the Equestrian Safety Vest Research Campaign, pledging $100,000 towards a $450,000 fundraising goal to begin the Virginia Tech Helmet Lab’s research to improve air vests used by the equestrian community.

“Safety vests have become very popular in our sport and in our discipline, but unfortunately, we know very little about their capabilities,” said Joe Dotoli, chair of the USHJA Safety Committee. “We recently concluded scientific research on helmets and how well they protect us against concussion. Building off that momentum, we are excited to once again partner with Virginia Tech to conduct a new research project on safety vests.”

The use of chest protection in equestrian sports has become common but there is little equestrian-specific research and testing available for equestrian air vests. The purpose of the Equestrian Safety Vest Research campaign is to review current equestrian vest protection standards, investigate the most common types of torso impacts and injuries, evaluate current testing methodologies, develop a biofidelic impact protocol for evaluating air and standard protective vests, and finally, test and rate the performance of current chest protection systems for the equestrian community.

“The USHJA is committed to furthering research and technology in this field and to the safety of our equestrian community, and we need your help raising the funding to complete this important and necessary research,” said Dotoli. 

To begin research, 50% of the total cost of $825,000 must be raised. The USHJA encourages other equestrian organizations and individuals to also pledge their support to help fund this crucial research which will help set standards for air vests in equestrian sport. To donate to the Equestrian Safety Vest Research Campaign to help Virginia Tech reach the beginning funding goal of $450,000, click here.

The USHJA will host an informational webinar with USHJA Safety Committee Chair Joe Dotoli and lead researchers Dr. Stefan Duma, director of the Virginia Tech Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science, and Dr. Barry Miller, director of outreach and business development with the Virginia Tech Helmet Lab, on Tuesday, June 20 at 7 p.m. ET for individuals and organizations interested in becoming involved with and supporting the campaign. To register for the informational webinar and learn how you or your organization can get involved, click here.

About the U.S. Hunter Jumper Association

The United States Hunter Jumper Association, as the official Hunter/Jumper affiliate of the United States Equestrian Federation, is a competition-based sport organization that serves our members through educational programs, awards and recognition, communication, and rules. We provide a wide array of programs for all Hunter/Jumper levels, and we are mindful of the well-being of our equine partners. Additionally, we are committed to preserving the history of our sport, and through our Foundation, we support charitable and benevolent services. Learn more at ushja.org.

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