All that being said... you don't have to go top of the line, I ride in an almost $300 eventing vest for x-c (which is about the norm for new ones), but honestly, I've never really put a price on safety. I've seen some around $200 that I would trust, but really, I want to know that if I hit that solid jump, I'm not breaking ribs (which I've unfortunately put to the test, and my Casel-Equi has come through for me).
Unfortunately there are no tack shops anywhere close that do vests or anything like that.. It's hard enough to just find English tack! What vests would yall suggest though? I was hoping not to spend over about 200 or so, but can maybe go a little over if it's nice enough.
I'd suggest maybe the Charles Owen Body Protector? They're certified and I've seen them as low as $210 on dover, I'm sure you can find them cheaper somewhere else. Tipperary's are popular but they are not certified. I'm a big fan of Casel-Equi, they design body protectors for eventing, rodeo, racing, as well as non-horse sports like mountain biking. They have more options for custom fitting on each vest including the velcro shoulder padding to adjust length, and stretch lacing down the sides to give a closer fit but it also comes at a bigger price tag, around $275.
My barn is all eventers. I'll ask around if anyone has one for sale. We have a few women your size who have Tipperary's and no longer event. I've ridded in Georgia in summer. I honestly think you would burst into flames wearing a solid vest.
I like the Charles Owen, they are a rated vest and the firmness will provide more safety. I'd rather be hot than hurt an I've used a Tipperary (I own one) and I just don't feel as safe. It doesn't get as snug and there's more space between the padding than on my casel-equi vest. Whenever I have to ride in it I always feel like if I fell the pads would just wiggle out of the way. They also stretch out which leads to bigger gaps between pads which you wouldn't have to worry about with the Charles Owen.
I always opt for safety over personal "comfort" just try and find a light color or wear a light colored cotton shirt on top to help keep you cooler. The "cooling factors" in a tipperary are minimal and compromise the integrity of the product as a safety device.