Too-Tight Nosebands Bad For Equine Welfare

Nosebands, the piece of a bridle that encircles a horse’s nose, are common in many riding disciplines. Standard practice is to tighten the noseband so there is room for two fingers to slip between it and the horse’s jaw. Tightening the noseband more than this could create undue pressure and pain for the horse.

Dr. Dominic Weller, White, Fenner, Wilson, Wilkins and McGreevy sent a survey to various equine groups and received responses from 3,040 horse owners, riders and trainers. The survey asked questions to determine what types of nosebands were used, why they were used, what designs were preferred in which disciplines, and how nosebands were tightened and monitored in competition.

From the results, it was determined that:

  • 2,332 of the survey respondents used nosebands. A plain cavesson was most common (46.6 percent), followed by a flash noseband. Crank nosebands were also common, used by 28.9 percent of survey participants.
  • The type of noseband used was often discipline-specific. Respondents who did not use nosebands were most likely to practice Natural Horsemanship, Western riding and Endurance.
  • The most-popular reasons for using a noseband included preventing the horse’s tongue from getting over the bit, following competition rules and making a horse look better.
  • Nearly one-fifth or respondents noted physical and behavioral complications related to noseband use, the most common of which was hair loss under the noseband.

Though tightening the noseband seemed to result in the horse being more sensitive to rein tension, the risk for overtightening the noseband is high as there are no international rules of competition to monitor noseband tightness.

A commonly accepted measurement of the tightness of nosebands is two finger widths spacing measured on the flush with the nose, but this is not a standard measure enforced by entities that oversee racing and sport-horse competition. In addition, not all riders check for noseband tightness on the bridge of the nose.

Tighter nosebands restrict the horse’s ability to show resistance and discomfort by opening his mouth or placing his tongue outside his mouth. Limiting the horse’s ability to make these actions heighten his discomfort. Restricting the horse in such a manner increases the rider’s control through negative reinforcement.

Tight nosebands can compromise equine welfare as they can place sustained pressure on the horse’s facial bones and soft tissues, which can damage them.

Read more at HorseTalk.

The post Too-Tight Nosebands Bad For Equine Welfare appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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