What’s in a Noseband?

ArticleHow to - Tack and EquipmentFriday 20 January 2012
Horse Noseband

English nosebands come in a wide array of styles and shapes.  While most bridles come equipped with a basic cavasson noseband, sometimes a rider chooses a different style of noseband.  What are these nosebands, and what are they for?

Cavasson Noseband

This is the basic noseband that you see on most bridles.  While it looks nice when adjusted properly, a cavasson noseband serves no real purpose.  It cannot hold the horse’s mouth closed, nor does it offer the rider more control.  You could easily toss the noseband and the horse would not know the difference.

Flash Noseband

A flash noseband is a fine strap of leather that is attached to the front of a cavasson noseband by a small loop.  It can be removed at any time, leaving a plain cavasson noseband.

The advantage of a flash noseband is that it acts to keep the horse’s mouth closed.  This is because this noseband is fastened below the bit, encircling the muzzle rather than the jaw.  It must be done up very tightly to be effective.

Many disciplines frown on flash nosebands, and do not permit them in the ring.  On the other hand, some horses need the incentive to keep them from opening their mouths and bracing against the bit.  A flash noseband can be used in the warm-up ring, and removed just before the horse goes into a class.  This way it is available during the training session, but is not on the horse while it is being judged.

Drop Noseband

Set lower than a cavasson noseband, a drop noseband is designed to fasten just below the horse’s chin.  The top part of the noseband rests on the bridge of the nose while the bottom part drops in front of the bit.  Like the flash noseband, a drop noseband is used to keep the horse’ mouth closed.  Unlike a flash, it cannot easily be removed.  Drop nosebands are not acceptable in certain disciplines, and are not as commonly used.

Figure Eight Noseband

Shaped like a long figure eight, this noseband also acts to keep the horse’s nose closed.  The top part of the eight wraps around the horse’s nose, higher than the average cavasson noseband.  The crossover of the eight rests on the bridge of the nose with the lower part dropping below the bit, much like a flash.

Figure eight nosebands are fairly popular in the eventing world, where they are permitted in the ring.  Many other disciplines do not permit them, and because they are not easily removed, they are not as common as the flash noseband.

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