How much attention do you pay to the fit of your horse’s noseband? Have you kept it on the same hole for years and never thought about changing it? Or perhaps you make sure to check it every time you ride? Horse owners are quite rightly keen to get their saddle professionally fitted and adjusted, but many are more relaxed about bridle fit. But a poorly fitting bridle clearly relates to the comfort of a horse and has been proven to impact their performance too.
With that in mind, here are our top tips for fitting your horse’s noseband, so that you can be sure they are totally comfortable when you’re asking them to do their job. It’s important to remember that for a horse to maintain a soft and relaxed contact, their mouth can’t be strapped shut with a tight noseband. We’ll kick off by looking at fitting a plain cavesson before moving on to some other commonly seen styles.
- Put the bridle on and do the noseband up loosely, and then check if it sits 2cm below the cheekbones (that’s around two finger-widths). Adjust the height up or down if needed.
- Then do the noseband up with the buckle sitting comfortably between the two jaw bones and you can fit two fingers underneath it. A crank cavesson can be fastened slightly more tightly but make sure it’s not pinching the horse when contact is taken up.
- If you’re using a drop noseband it is very important to ensure it is at least six centimeters above the nostrils and that you can slide a finger all the way around. Any lower and you risk interfering with their breathing and damaging the soft tissues of the nostrils.
- With a flash noseband, adjust the top band so that you can easily slide a finger all the way around it and ensure the end of the bottom strap is pointing downwards. Again, you should be able to fit two fingers under that lower strap so that the horse can relax its jaw.
- If you’re using a Mexican grackle, it will have high rings to remove the pressure on the fleshy part of the horse’s jaw and teeth. Make sure the pad is centrally positioned and the lower strap sits in the chin groove and isn’t pinching anywhere. Ensure you can fit one to two fingers underneath it all the way round.
A noseband which is carefully chosen and correctly fitted is a useful tool for the rider, but they should never be used to ‘fix’ bad behaviour without ruling out physical issues first. For example, any noseband that’s too tight will press the soft tissues of the horse’s face onto its teeth. If their behaviour was caused by dental issues then a tight noseband will only make the problem worse.
In other news, we’re delighted to see the return of spectators to equestrian events and to get out competing ourselves! It’s been a long time coming and the events have felt rather quiet without cheering on their favourite horses and riders. We will be sharing the details of the events where you can come and meet Jo and the team very soon, so keep a close eye on our social media channels.