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Cavesson, Flash, Drop, Grakle and Kineton Nosebands


There are various types of nosebands, all of which have a different purpose. It is important to choose the most suitable for your horse and not simply put the noseband on because it happens to be part of your bridle. Always ensure that any noseband fits correctly and doesn't rub any part of your horse's face or jaw.
A cavesson noseband is purely a cosmetic piece of tack which breaks up the horse's face making it look shorter and more aesthetically pleasing. The width of the leather on a horse's noseband can have a dramatic effect on the apperance of the horse's face. A wide noseband will enhance a chunky cob or more heavyweight horse while a thin, lightweight leather will be more suitable to a finer horse or one of an Arab type. The height of the hoseband should fitted two fingers breadths below the horse's protruding cheekbone and care should be taken to ensure it is fastened no tigher than two fingers widths between the jaw and the leather. A cavesson which is fitted too tightly can rub the horse resulting in painful sores under the horse's jaw.
Flash nosebands are a combination of the cavesson and drop noseband, they allow flexibility in the way the noseband is worn. The separate flash strap can be removed for less demanding work allowing the horse a little more freedom. The cavesson part of the noseband fits as described above, the flash strap fastens below the bit and needs to be fitted tightly enough to prevent the horse opening his mouth, but ensure you can fit one finger between the strap and the horse's nose. When fastened the buckle should not be near the horse's lips or nostrils, and any excess strap should be secured in a keeper. Note that it is wise to always fasten the flash strap when the bridle is not in use as this or the keeper can easily be lost.
The Drop noseband although not now widely used, is effective in preventing the horse opening his mouth wide enough to be able to evade the bit. Extreme care must be taken to ensure correct fitting as it can restrict a horse's breathing if it is too low. The top strap must lie on the bony part of the nose, not the fleshy part of the horse's muzzle. The drop noseband fastens below the bit and behind the jaw. The noseband should be fastened tightly enough to prevent the horse from opening its mouth but not so tightly that it is uncomfortable or painful. Care should be taken when fitting to ensure all buckles are positioned towards the middle of the horse's jaw thus reducing the risk of rubbing.
The Grackle, sometimes known as Figure of Eight or Cross Over nosebands have a similar action to a drop or flash noseband but act over a wider area of the face. As well as stopping the horse opening his mouth, this type of noseband is also effective at preventing him from crossing his jaw which can make control very difficult. The grakle fastens higher on the head than a drop or flash noseband so is less likely to affect the horse's breathing. The headpiece should be adjusted to end on or just below the horse's cheek bone, the two straps of the noseband fasten immediately below the cheeks, then cross over the horse's nose through a padded keeper and fasten below the bit. The straps should be tight enough to allow just one finger between the strap and horse's face.
Kineton nosebands are not widely used and are suitable only for strong horses, ridden by experienced riders who need extra control. The noseband transfers some of the pressure exerted on the bit to the bridge of the horse's nose. It is similar in appearance to a drop noseband but it features two metal loops in place of the strap that fastens under the chin on a drop noseband. The metal loops fit round the mouthpiece of a snaffle bit between the bit rings and the horse's mouth. The centre strap of the noseband is adjusted to sit on the bony part of the horse's face. This noseband can be extremely strong especially if used incorrectly or by an inexperienced rider, it should always be used with a snaffle bit.
  All of these nosebands and indeed any tack must be fitted correctly, and kept clean and well oiled to ensure comfort for your horse. Badly cared for tack not only looks unsightly but will quicky become cracked and weak making it more likely to break. The condition of your tack is your responsibility and it is yourself and your horse that risk serious injury if it snaps whilst riding. Check the condition of all tack and stitching regularly and repair or replace any worn tack immediately. It is good practice to get into the routine of cleaning your tack every time you ride, a quick wipe over of all the leather with tack cleaning wipes is sufficient to keep the worst grime at bay. A thorough clean and oil of tack each month would then keep the leather in tip top condition. It is important to clean the bit after every use, if you rinse it under a tap straight after riding, any saliva or food left on the bit is still soft and easily removed.

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