Is it time to do away with nosebands altogether?
Okay, maybe I’m jumping in a little soon without much background. Before you give me a definitive “NO WAY!” hear me out.
Some time ago I wrote about the purpose of nosebands (hint, we don’t really need them).
But now, leading up to the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, the RSPCA and other groups are calling for a changes to how tightness is measure or an outright ban on nosebands and it’s gaining some traction in mainstream media.
Even my writing about nosebands was late to the scene. In 2012 a taper guage test to enforce a consistent tightness (or rather looseness) was suggested to the FEI, their response? Silence.
But equestrian sports are a quagmire of tradition, money, more money, prestige and let’s mention money one last time. Do you see any focus on the horse’s welfare in there? Nope, me neither.
So the taper guage test was neatly tucked away or forgotten, and was not adopted by the FEI which could of course unravel so many bullshit
training coercion methods like the [rollkur][hyperflexion][LDR] which heavily rely on crank nosebands so tight they require pliers to put on and take off.
So what’s spurring the latest talk? A study from the University of Sydney showed significant stress differences when nosebands are overtightened.
Certainly, we can say “but did we really need a study to tell us that if you over tighten a noseband it’s going to be uncomfortable?” like Morgane Gabriel at HorseNation did about the study. But yes, yes we did need a study apparently because this is common practice in upper-level competition.
Pressure from nosebands has been likened to pressure from a tourniquet and often exceeds levels associated in humans with tissue and nerve damage. Crank nosebands are padded to avoid cutting into the surface of the skin, but inside the mouth, they force the cheeks against naturally sharp molars and are associated with lacerations and ulcers.
Vivienne Reiner, “Giving horses a voice on painful nosebands“
Groups are calling for more consistent measuring by using a taper gauge at the nasal bone (instead of on the side of the nose), but even at the more extreme I would support a measure to ban nosebands altogether in Dressage competitions.
Even a bridle isn’t necessary to communicate with your horse …
Do you ride with or without a noseband? Do you do so for a specific reason, or because that’s just the way you’ve always done it?
Updated May 15:
Please, sign the petition to the International Olympic Committee, urging them to institute a standard taper gauge measuring method to ensure the “two-finger” rule is accurately enforced for all competitors.
- University of Sydney: Giving horses a voice on painful nosebands
- RSPCA: What is a restrictive noseband and how does it harm horses?
- ABC News Australia: Olympic equestrian events under fire as research links riding equipment to stress response in horses
- EquiSci: Cranked Nosebands: “Acts of Cruelty”