Noseband use in equestrian sports
The bridle is the main instrument used to control horses during competitive equestrian disciplines. It is attached to one of the most sensitive parts of a horse’s body. By applying pressure, the rider tries to control the horse, counting on their training and the restraint brought about by the bridle. By tightening the noseband more they can control their horses better or force them into compliancy. However, little research is done on the effect on the equine’s welfare, leading to inconsistent guidelines concerning the tightening of the bands. This article tried to assess how well the existing guidelines are followed during competition riding.
Tightness of the noseband was assessed using a taper gauge, position and width were measured with skin thickness callipers. It was also noted with type of band was used. Measurements were made during competitions on 750 horses from varying countries and of divers age. The horses competed in dressage, eventing or performance hunter classes of different levels.
The median tightness of the nosebands was 0,5 fingers, 40% was zero fingers and only 19% of all nosebands complied with the general rule of two fingers. Tightness was highest in eventing classes and lowest in the performance hunter classes. Flash nosebands were consistently tighter than the drop noseband, the cavesson and the Micklem.
Do you follow the guidelines when tightening your noseband? Why not?
Expert opinion by Charlotte De Bruyne
These results reveal a tendency to overtighten nosebands on competition horses, in at least in 3 European countries. When taking into consideration the likelihood of negative effects on the horse’s welfare when the noseband is too tight, there seems to be a need for stricter guidelines concerning noseband tightening. However, before these guidelines can be developed, more scientific data has to be collected concerning the effects of tightness on the horses.
> From: Doherty et al., PLoS ONE 12 (2017) . All rights reserved to © 2017 Doherty et al.. Click here for the online summary.