Would Your Horse’s Noseband Pass the Test?
By Lindsay Grice, Equestrian Canada coach and judge
How to check your horse's noseband for tightness...
Technology now allows researchers to peek inside the equine mouth, comparing the effect of restrictive nosebands on bit action and swallowing. Overly tight nosebands, with the leverage they afford, can create measurable damage.
Dressage rules specify that nosebands must permit one finger between the horse’s cheek and the noseband. Current research has revealed that noseband tension must be tested on the bridge, or the front nasal plane, of the nose.
The International Society of Equitation Science (ISES) responded to the dilemma of cranked cavessons in equine sport by designing a noseband gauge for horse show ring stewards.
Researchers compared 750 horses with a noseband gauge at a variety of national and international dressage and eventing competitions. The consensus? “We are routinely preventing normal swallowing, chewing, yawning, and licking in the name of sport,” — ISES.
Noseband gauges are available for purchase at equitationscience.com/store/taper-gauge
Riders should ensure that their horse’s noseband is not excessively tight and complies with FEI rules. The ISES recommends a minimum spacing between the noseband strap and the horse’s nasal bones, and increasingly, sports governing bodies are introducing new rules to this effect, with several countries specifying a spacing between 1.5 and 2 cm. A minimum spacing of at least 1.5 cm is achieved when the ISES noseband taper gauge is inserted without force up to the raised stop. In addition, three notches on the side can be used to measure the diameter of the bit’s mouthpiece, and two marks on the reverse side measure the length of the curb shank.
The question upstream from noseband constraints is: Are we masking bit evasion without asking WHY the horse might be resisting?