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Noseband Science: How Tight is Too Tight for Your Horse?

The rules on how tight a horse’s noseband should be in equestrian sports are unclear, but research is showing that they need to be loosened.

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By: Antonia J.Z. Henderson, Ph.D. |

I am an amateur rider. I have a tendency toward right arm rigor mortis that no amount of coaching has corrected, and when that right arm locks up, my horse opens her mouth and crosses her jaw. She is a dressage horse and this not okay. So I tighten the noseband and close her mouth. This too is not okay. The research is clear. My horse’s noseband is too tight. It is at the very least causing my horse discomfort, probably pain, undoubtedly stress, and possibly physiological damage. Are nosebands on horse bridles really that tight? I am somewhat comforted in that I am not alone with my overtightened noseband. This practice has been exacerbated by the introduction of the crank noseband and its leverage buckle which allows nosebands to be excessively tightened with much less force (and possibly awareness) than the traditional cavesson. In 2017, equine scientist Orla Doherty…

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