Getting the right noseband for your horse is not an exact science. Begin by using the most simple option and work through others if it doesn’t feel right, paying close attention to what your horse rides well with. The aim of the noseband is to assist the horse in keeping their mouth gently closed, encouraging contact with the bit and therefore making the most of the communication between rider and horse. There are several types of noseband, the most common being the plain, the flash, the drop and the figure of eight. Understanding what each of them are designed to do should assist you in making a decision on which might be best for your horse. Here’s a run through of the basics.
The Plain Noseband
Also known as the Cavesson noseband, this is the simplest noseband. It goes round your horse’s nose about two fingers below the cheekbone, and should be fitted reasonably snugly, but so you can easily slide a finger between the horses face and the band. This kind of noseband is great for well trained horses who happily accept the bit, and provides good support to the jaw. It may not be enough for a horse that shakes it’s head when you make contact or who hangs his tongue out, showing resistance to bit pressure by opening the mouth.
The Flash Noseband
The flash noseband is a thin strap attached to a plain noseband and helps prevent the horse from opening their mouth too wide. It can also help stop your horse from crossing their jaw and putting their tongue over their bit, which can break contact with the bit. Good fitting is required to ensure the flash can work effectively – you should be able to slide a finger round the top part, and two fingers round the bottom strap. As with any noseband, ensure that it’s resting against nasal bone, rather than as far down as the softer area near the nostrils, as this could affect breathing.
The Drop Noseband
The drop noseband sits low on the horse’s nose. Like the flash it also aims to prevent the horse opening it’s mouth too wide, but has a stronger action than the flash noseband. This kind of noseband holds the bit higher up in the mouth, which some horses like. Be careful not to fit it too low; it should be at least 6cm above the nostrils and it should fit snugly but with one finger comfortably fitting between the horse and noseband.
The Figure of Eight Noseband
The figure of eight noseband, also know as a grackle noseband, is designed to help stop a horse from crossing their jaw and opening their mouth. The point at which the crossover of the figure of eight happens is where the pressure point is, and is often padded – this should be fitted on the centre front of the nose, with the straps either side sitting just beneath the facial bones, and lower straps under the jaw and in front of the bit. You should be able to slide two fingers under the straps. If the horse tries to open their mouth too much the noseband tightens across the nose and also across the upper and lower jaw.