Monday, January 27, 2020

Would Your Horse’s Noseband Pass the Pressure Test?

If you use a flash or drop noseband, you may be surprised at the results of a recent study. Nosebands that are designed to prevent the horse from opening its mouth could cause high pressures on the nose and the potential damaging effects of these pressure are not yet known. 

Jayne Peters from Bishop Burton College, UK and her research team investigated three different noseband designs and their effect on rein tension and the force being exerted on the frontal nasal plane of horses whilst being ridden.  Their findings were presented at the 15th annual International Society for Equitation Science (ISES) conference, Aug 19, 2019, at the University of Guelph.
Eight horses were included in the study. 

The research team measured rein tension and the pressure caused by each noseband on the front of the nose. The bridle was fitted to all horses using the “two finger rule”, checked with an ISES taper gauge for accuracy. Horses were ridden by their owner, in a snaffle bridle, for all three nosebands.
Of the three nosebands tested; the flash and drop nosebands showed significantly higher pressure on the front of the horse’s nose as compared to a cavesson type. The flash created the highest pressure.

Peters says, “According to initial findings; a common perception of restrictive noseband designs allowing a lighter rein aid may be inaccurate and warrant further investigation.” The study found no significant change in rein tension when comparing the three nosebands.

Peters says that the study raises equine welfare concerns when it comes to using nosebands with restrictive designs meant to prevent the horse from opening its mouth.  She suggests that with the widespread use of flash nosebands in international competition, continuing investigation into potential damaging effects is needed. 

Peters closed her presentation at the ISES conference encouraging more focus on correct training than equipment.  Currently, investigations reveal that the effect of tack is not yet fully understood.  Scientific evidence may lead to industry perceptions being re-evaluated.    

For more details, see:

Preliminary investigation into the effect of noseband design on rein tension and the force exerted on the frontal nasal plane
J. Peters, R. Brassington
Proc 15th ISES Conference, (2019) p42

You can download the Proceedings of the 15th International Society for Equitation Science Conference at:

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