Know your noseband: an exploration of factors that influence riders’ choice of noseband

Hilary M. Clayton, Jane M. Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Articlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
52 Downloads (Pure)


The popularity of equestrian sports provides an increasing market for horse gear or tack. While manufacturers have launched new designs to enhance the safety, comfort, effectiveness and aesthetics of their products, few items of tack have been evaluated quantitatively. Nosebands are not an essential component of a bridle, but are widely used across equestrian sport. Despite this, little is known about factors which influence rider decision-making when selecting what noseband to use for their horse. A 41 question online survey was distributed via equestrian social media sites to provide insight into how riders select and fit nosebands, what factors influence decision-making, and sources of information that inform practice. Frequency analysis combined with Kruskal-Wallis analyses identified if differences in noseband selection, use and fit existed between recreational and competitive riders. Thematic analysis analysed open questions to evaluate riders’ decision31 making in more detail. A total of 1381 respondents completed the survey. Horse performance, comfort and control, customary habit to use and appearance were key factors that informed rider decision-making when selecting which noseband to use for their horse. The use of cavesson (34%) and flash (20%) nosebands was prevalent across riders in the UK and North America, for recreational riding, flatwork and jumping; these nosebands were perceived as kind and comfortable for the horse. Differences in the use of crank nosebands (p<0.01) and additional padding under the noseband (p<0.02) were found between disciplines. Most respondents (79%) had changed their horse’s noseband at least once; when more control was required, riders used nosebands incorporating a strap passing below the bit e.g. flash and grackle nosebands. If the bridle or noseband was thought to be causing pain or injury to the horse, the majority of respondents (95%) would change the noseband. Preferred sources of information in this regard were veterinarians, equine dentists and coaches or trainers, with less than 25% consulting a qualified bridle fitter. Most Equine noseband use respondents agreed with the recommendation that there should be room for 2-3 fingers beneath a correctly adjusted noseband; 44% had experienced the tightness of their horse’s noseband being checked at competition, however only 14% recognised the ISES taper gauge. Increased communication of the value of using trained bit and bridle fitters and the ISES taper gauge to assess noseband fit to riders is warranted
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research
Early online date17 Nov 2021
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2022


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