When I was growing up, nosebands were loose. In fact, many people didn’t bother with them at all. By the time I had bought Kroni, my Trakehner, it was difficult to find a bridle without a flash, and cranks were becoming more common. Kroni was always busy with his mouth, which was a problem for dressage. I tried a flash, tried a drop nose band, tried a crank. None of them made him happier, or quieter, or the ultimate goal, more submissive.
Ultimately, I figured out that he just had a thick tongue and a low palate. He wasn’t trying to be resistant; he was simply uncomfortable. He did better with bits that offered tongue relief and he did best when ridden bitless. He did not go well with a tight noseband.
It doesn’t surprise me that studies show that horses with tight nosebands are stressed. If anything nosebands are tighter than ever; I’ve seen pictures of horses where the strap of the flash, or crank, is so tight that the horse can’t swallow or move its jaw at all. I was always taught that you should be able to fit two fingers under the noseband. Maybe we should go back to that model.