Horses and People

We share your passion

Available worldwide by subscription and in Newsagents and select stores in Australia.
App Store - Logo Google Play Store - Logo

Much Too Tight! On the Effects of Nosebands

May 2018 by Kathrin Kienapfel and Holger Preuschoft

The following paper is an approved translation of a study first published in the German equine science journal Pferdeheilkunde titled: Kienapfel, K.; Preuschoft, H., 2010: Viel zu eng! Über die Verschnallung der Nasenriemen. Pferdeheilkunde 26, 178–185.
'Much Too Tight! On the Effects of Nosebands'
Kathrin Kienapfel* & Holger Preuschoft
*corresponding author: Kathrin Kienapfel/


The practical realm of horse riding in general and equine sports in particular appears to be increasingly losing touch with the traditional art of horseback riding. Discrepancies between current and traditional methods arise early, such as in the tightening of the nosebands. Superfluous bridle straps lead to misinterpretations of their function.

In this paper, the actual effects of the most commonly used noseband will be demonstrated theoretically and substantiated with empirical (experimental) methods.

All riding related activities demand the horse is provided with the opportunity to ‘chew’ during riding. Chewing, as well as the ability to receive a reward is, however, only possible if the jaw can be opened to some degree. This is precisely what tight nosebands prevent.

The tightness of the noseband is of most importance here; whereby it is unimportant if the strap is tightened above the bit, as in the English or Cavesson style, or below the bit, as in the Hanoverian style - a noseband which combines a cavesson with a chin-strap.

Testing the distance between the nasal bone and the noseband by inserting two fingers is essential and more reliable as a method of checking tightness than testing the distance on the ventral side of the lower jaw. Testing for sufficient distance on the side of the head will not provide any useful information.

If completely closed jaws are used as a starting point, the loosening of one hole on the noseband is necessary to provide the incisors with the distance of a finger width and the premolars of more than 12mm.

Keywords: noseband, animal protection

To read the full paper click on the PDF image above right.

To read a lay version of this article by Sonja Vandermark, please click here.