Tight nose bands cause distress in horses

Tight nosebands
An article in HorseTalk.co.nz highlights the issues from “relentless pressure” from tight nosebands. Click on the photo to read the article

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.

Tight noseband
When a noseband/flash is this tight, the horse can’t swallow or move its jaw.

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.


4 thoughts on “Tight nose bands cause distress in horses

  1. Is it just me, or should this have just been common sense??? ANYTHING done up too tightly causes stress, dog collars, bras, waist bands, I can go on. Did we really need a study?

  2. Common sense? Way too rational. People get so caught up in “making” their horses conform that they forget that it’s about riding, not equipment.

  3. I’d go a step further and declare this as abuse. A noseband as tight as the one in the last picture is clearly hurting the poor horse and as such constitutes animal abuse. Whenever I tacked up a a horse, I made sure to at least fit 2 fingers under the noseband, erring on the loser side.
    I rather wonder why there are not more horse accidents, where the gentle giants simply flip out and get aggressive over being mistreated daily.

  4. They are very tolerant of so many things. It’s really a shame that people don’t think about how much our horses do for us and value them accordingly. I agree that a noseband that tight is abusive.

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