By Catie Staszak/Catie Staszak Media
As Olympic veteran Amy Millar (CAN) crossed the timers of Leopoldo Palacios’ (VEN) massive 1.60m track for the second time, securing the only double-clear effort for Canada in the prestigious CSIO5* BMO Nations Cup, the crowd at the Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ Tournament positively erupted for their hometown hero.
There’s no questioning it: Millar is riding with confidence. The 45-year-old was recently a part of the all-female squad that represented Canada at the FEI Jumping World Championships in Herning, Denmark, where the group was the only North American squad to advance to the final round of team competition. Chances are, you won’t find many courses that she hasn’t faced before. But she’s also aware of the inherent risks being a competitive athlete presents, so she made a pact with herself to protect her body as much as she could.
That’s why Millar is now a brand ambassador for ALLSHOT Americas, the U.S. distributor of the French brand ALLSHOT, recognized in the airbag industry for the innovation and quality of its products—in both equestrian and motorcycling sports.
“I have two children: a 4-year-old and a 12-year-old. Part of my mantra is to stay healthy for the next 20 years so I can raise my children and be present in their lives,” Millar said. “I will do what I can to minimize the risks in the sport and in my life.”
The ALLSHOT airbag solution is quickly gaining traction in North America, thanks to its longer, tailored fit—supporting more of the lower spine—and its enhanced safety features. Unlike with riding helmets, there are no American certifications for air vests, but there are in France, from AFNOR (Agence Française de Normalisation). ALLSHOT air vests meet that standard: NF S72-800:2022. To do so, an air vest must deploy in less than 250 milliseconds. ALLSHOT’s Belair (designed for hunter, jumper and dressage riders) and Oxair (for eventers) vests—deploy in just 80 milliseconds. For comparison, 100 milliseconds is the speed at which an eye blinks.
ALLSHOT is also the only air vest to have a built-in, removable back protector by D30®, which boasts a high level of impact absorption and airflow. D30® is used by the US army and in both the National Football League (NFL) and National Hockey League (NHL).
“My first impression, in all honestly, was how much better the vest looked and felt [compared to others I had worn]. I love the dorsal fin to protect my back,” Millar said. “My experience so far, with falls that are not very serious, I don’t wake up stiff the next day. The only thing that hurts is my pride!”
Over the winter in Wellington, FL, Millar test rode a demo of a new model of ALLSHOT’s Belair vest—one made with a soon-to-be released Outlast® technology. Originally developed for NASA to protect astronauts against extreme temperature fluctuations in space, Outlast® technology is made of a unique material that can absorb, store and release excess heat. As an individual’s skin temperature increases, the technology will absorb that excess heat to help reduce overheating. ALLSHOT has exclusivity in the equestrian market to utilize this revolutionary technology.
“I tried it out in some of the really hot temperatures that we ride in. It really makes a difference,” Millar said. “The only complaint one could ever have about riding in a vest is that it can be hot. When I finished competing one day, I opened the Belair Outlast® vest, and between the vest and my show jacket, it was cooler inside than it was outside.” Millar’s father, 10-time Olympian Ian Millar, also wears a Belair vest from ALLSHOT as he continues to develop young horses at Millar Brooke Farm in Perth, Ontario. ALLSHOT makes air vests for riders of all age brackets, and its SafeKid vest is the only airbag vest on the market developed to be worn by children as young as six years old (33 pounds).
In both the BMO Nations Cup and in Herning, you may not have even noticed Millar’s vest. ALLSHOT had the equipment customized to match the exact color of her team show coat, and the Canadian flag was embroidered on her left chest. ALLSHOT is able to customize its Belair vest to match any country’s team colors. ALLSHOT vests can also be worn under any show jacket made with 15% or more of elastane.
“When I ride on the Canadian team, which are the biggest events of all, I don’t want to be changing my routine and program and not wearing safety equipment because it doesn’t match [the uniform],” Millar said. “We sent over the color of my [team] jacket, and Allshot worked on a custom red vest for me. It blends in beautifully.”
When Millar isn’t representing her nation, she wears a black vest to match her main show coat. There’s a vest for every occasion, because Millar is of the sentiment that accidents can happen to any caliber of rider, any time.
“When I’m schooling at home, I also wear my ALLSHOT Belair vest,” Millar said. “I got in the mindset that it would be silly for something to happen [outside of the show ring, unprotected]. I have air vest straps on all of my saddles. I’m always ready!”