Which Noseband to choose for your snaffle bridle

A noseband is a relatively recent addition to horse tack. Traditionally, they and the snaffle bridle, were seen as a progression towards the curb bridle. However, nosebands became prevalent as the popularity of snaffle bits increased.

Now days, our modern riding practices depend on nosebands because many riders do not ride with curb bits.

Why do you need a Noseband?

Most noseband designs prevents a horse from opening their mouth wide enough to evade the action of the bit. This is important, not just for stopping the horse, but also to ensure that fine riding can be achieved. Ideally the communication between rider and horse should be as subtle as possible. To achieve this the aids from the rider’s reins need to be effective on the bit. Avoiding the action of the bit by opening the mouth can disrupt this flow of communication.

Riding an effective half halt can be one of the most rewarding moments in our riding careers. It allows us to feel that we are speaking the same language as our horse. As a rider, this is our most important goal.

Choosing and fitting the right Noseband

Like bridles, nosebands have developed to suit different disciplines and the expectations we have of our horses. Your noseband choice will also depend on how your horse accepts the bit and therefore, what evasion techniques your horse may have developed to stop the action of the bit.

Nosebands should be fitted to allow the horse to flex and move their jaw but should stop them from opening their mouth too wide, thus avoiding the action of the bit

Types of Noseband

Drop Noseband

The Drop Noseband

The drop noseband is very effective for horses who pull on the reins. The front part of the noseband should lie on the bony parts of the nose. The strap at the back should fasten below the bit. Correct fitting is essential. For instance, if fitted too low, it can interfere with the horses breathing and cause distress.

Flash (Hanovarian) Noseband

Flash (Hanovarian) Noseband

This is a cavesoon noseband which has a strap attached, this fastens below the bit. The strap acts similarly to the drop noseband. However, it is normally more comfortable than a drop and easier to fit. Although, the action is not as good. The flash strap must sit below the bit rings.

Cavesson Noseband

The cavesson noseband can be either a traditional style or a crank style.

The crank style

  • Associated with dressage bridle
  • Refers to how the back strap of the noseband does up
  • A snug fit is achieved by ‘cranking’ the back strap through a metal D ring.

The traditional style

  • Associated with a show bridle.
  • Lighter
  • Originally purely cosmetic
  • You can attach a standing martingale to it.

The Cavesson achieves its efficiency by the positioning and tightness of the noseband. Positioning it lower helps to keep the horse’s mouth closed. However, you must ensure that the positioning of the noseband is not so low that it pinches the skin between the bit rings. To confirm that the noseband is not too tight you should be able to push your fingers between the horse and the cavesson. Imagine if you have ever worn a belt that is too tight on your hips. That sensation of numbness in the skin leaves you wanting to vigorously rub the area once removed. The same is true for a horse’s noseband. It is not unusual for a horse to want to rub it’s face if the strapping is a bit tight.

Grackle (Figure of 8 or Mexican) Noseband

The Grackle noseband is usually  made from light-weight leather. It features a similar action to a Flash or Drop noseband. However, the Grackle also prevents a horse from crossing their jaw because its action is over a larger part of the head. It also sits higher than the drop so it is less likely to interfere with the breathing. The Grackle a popular bit with show jumpers.

Two straps cross over the nose where they are stitched together in a circle and usually padded underneath the crossover. The lower strap, similar to a flash strap and drop noseband, does up underneath the bit. The top strap works like a cavesson noseband.

Dressage competitions do not permit Grackle nosebands.

Anatomical Nosebands

Swedish company, PS Of Sweden, has lead the way in developing nosebands that are both more comfortable for the horse and more effective for the rider. Their most famous is the High Jump. However, brands have now copied this style. While they have copied the design superficially, the imitations have not yet mastered the complicated anatomy of the horses head which is the driving factor in the design of all PS Of Sweden’s bridles.

The High Jump

The High Jump

This noseband does not put any pressure on the teeth from the outside. This means there is no strapping touching the teeth cheeks. This reduces possible bit-related issues. The bows that lie over the bridge of the nose are flexible ensuring a perfect custom fit. The noseband has a decorative seam and is fastened with a hook. The hook can easily be removed for a traditional pull-back fastening if this is more suitable.

The Jump Off

The Jump Off

The design of the noseband has a flash strap. The cavesson strap at the back of the noseband allows for full freedom for the cheekbones and the sensitive nerve endings. Its upper part is fastened by regular pullback fastening.

LaNoir Saddleworld has a full range of bridles with nosebands that will suit you and your horse. Most nosebands can be purchased separately.

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